Sam Moore and Dave Prater burned through the late 1960s as the dynamic soul duet singers, famous for their stage moves and harmonies. The late Dave Prater was a Georgia country boy; Sam grew up in Miami. What they shared was an upbringing in gospel music, the sacred foundation for soul that found its way stylistically into their upbeat hits. But it’s also in the voicing of the ballads. Sam tells about meeting Dave and forming soul duo Sam & Dave.
Sam Moore: Dave migrated out to the club in Miami, the King of Hearts, where I was working, singing and doing amateur hour. He came out there and when he walked up and gave his name, I said, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard about you. You’re the young man that sings all the Sam Cooke songs.” But he chose to sing Jackie Wilson’s “Doggin’ Me Around.” He did the chorus pretty good, but when he got to the verses, he forgot the words, and he got nervous. The crowd was booing him, and I said, “Give him a break, give him another chance.” So I said to him, “I’ll help you. I’m not supposed to but I’ll help you.” And as he started again, I sat behind him, and I was repeating the verses to him, and my foot got entangled in the cords, and I knocked the mic over, and the poor guy is having a problem as it is. The mic left and he was sweating, and I reached down with him, and everybody thought that was fat. And that’s where Sam and Dave’s career began.
Nick Spitzer: So by 1966, you’ve got a song, “Hold On I’m Coming’” written by [David] Porter and I guess arranged by Isaac Hayes, and that’s number 1 R&B, and there you are in pop charts moving up, you’re like at 21.
SM: Yes. I remember it not being “Hold On I’m Comin’” at first. You know how the radio was at that time. You couldn’t come up with those kind of titles because it’s too, as they say, too suggestive.
NS: Did you ever feel you had to stand up for being the character of a song, “I’m a Soul Man?”
SM: Still does it today. I can sing soul, but I can also sing jazz, that doesn’t make me a jazz singer. I can sing pop, doesn’t make me a pop singer. I can sing country, doesn’t make me a country singer. Gospel, doesn’t make me a gospel singer. I figure myself as just a person that can sing different songs that feel good and that I can get my teeth into, without having an albatross put around my neck.
To hear the full program, tune in Saturdays at 7 and Sundays at 6 on WWNO, or listen at americanroutes.org.