Last week was a terrible blow to anybody invested in the soul and R&B music of the late '60s. Between the deaths of Isaac Hayes and Atlantic Records executive Jerry Wexler, it seemed as if one of the greatest eras in American pop music began to fade.
Sam Moore (above, left, with Hayes), one half of the R&B duo Sam and Dave, is performing an Isaac Hayes tribute at Sunset Junction this weekend, and he knew the players of the decade as well as anyone. He spoke with Soundboard last week about his fractured friendship with Hayes, his decades-long reconciliation with Wexler, and his life at the front lines and the forgotten margins of soul.
Obviously this has got to be an especially hard week for you.
Oh, isn't it something...? I'm telling you. Isaac, man, now Jerry.
Had you stayed close to them up until their deaths?
Every so often we would call [Jerry] to see how he was doing. He wasn't getting out that much, so we would call and check in on him. Isaac, I attempted to stay in touch with, but as I guess you've heard, it's no secret, his organization of people, they kind of separated that. So I didn't have that much communication with Isaac. But fast forward here, I didn't have that much connection after he had joined the Scientologists.
You came out with a new solo record a couple of years ago after a 35-year hiatus from solo work. Did you feel any pressure to get back on the road and follow that up?
I did. Because y'know, there's a story behind that. After Dave and I left each other, I was re-signed back to Atlantic and I cut an album as a solo artist with King Curtis being the producer. Well, I tell ya, I heard one cut of a song, I think it was shopped around one day on radio, and I said, Oh boy," and then I didn't hear that any more. Then I didn't hear any cuts any more from the album, so for years I went back, Man what's going on?" I'm already having doubts about myself. People have put it in my head, Well, you can't sing without Dave, you can't perform without Dave, nobody wants to hear you without Dave." So when [the documentary film] Only the Strong Survive" was done and we were out doing promotion, the management and Roger Friedman did a surprise by bringing Jerry. So Roger takes us inside to the theater and he and my wife sat there and they talked and Joyce said he was very emotional. So, when it was finished, Roger said to him, Well, now Jerry, tell me something. What happened? Why you never put the album out, y'know?" And you know what he said, honestly? I was a jerk. I was such a fool," he said. He turned around and said, Sam, I did you such an injustice." And y'know, him saying that, there's not many people that can admit when you've done something, you've made a mistake. And I looked at him and I gave him a hug and I said, Y'know what? All is forgiven." And we settled out differences.
That reconciliation must have made his passing a little easier than it could have been otherwise.