Sam Carr

Sam Carr was born April 17, 1926 in Marvel, Arkansas.  Marvel is a small town in Phillips County, just west of Helena.  His parents were Robert Lee and Mary McCollum.  Sam’s birth name was Samuel Lee McCollum ,so how did he become Sam Carr?  Who were Robert Lee and Mary McCollum?  Sam’s father was a musician who went by the stage name of Robert Nighthawk.  He and Mary had a traveling spirit and didn’t want to be held back by any children so they left Sam with the Carr family in Dundee.  Dundee is a small community in southern Tunica County, Mississippi.  Sam was only a year and half when his parents left him, so he didn’t remember much about them.  The Carr family was good to him and soon adopted the young man.  Thats how he became Sam Carr.

Robert Nighthawk

robert knighthawk

About 1933, when he was seven, Sam’s Father came by to see him in a bright red T-Model Ford.  He looked down at the little boy and told him, “I’m your Daddy, whether you believe it or not.  I know you ain’t seen me or know nothing about me.  I just want you to know I’m your Daddy.”  Four years later, he came back by and told Sam when he got bigger, he could come stay with him.  When he turned sixteen, he did just that and moved to Helena.  Sam collected money at the door to his Father’s shows and worked as a chauffeur for him as he traveled around to play music.  He also filled in on the band when he was needed.  Because he never knew what he had to play, he became a master at a number of different instruments from the harmonica to the guitar.

Sam met Doris in 1946 and got married.  He tried a little time as a sharecropper, but got mad one day when he was cheated.  His family packed up and moved eventually to St. Louis.  They lived with his Mother and soon formed his own band called Sam Carr and the Blue Kings.

Around 1956, he started playing with Frank Frost who played the harmonica and guitar.  Sam took up the drums for good.  They moved back to Mississippi and started playing with Sonny Boy Williamson and other acts in Helena.  Sonny Boy Williamson and Robert Nighthawk were mainstays on KFFA radio out of Helena.

In 1962, Big Jack Johnson joined them.  Sam was working for a farmer in Lula and Jack was working for Lee Horace Bass, who became their first manager.  Frank got by the best way he could.  Later that year, the trio traveled to Memphis and recorded their first album under the band name, Frank Frost and the Night Hawks with producer Sam Phillips at Sun Studios.  Hey Boss Man was a big hit and the band soon changed their name to the Jelly Roll Kings after one of their big songs on the album.

frank and sam

The Jelly Roll Kings played at local clubs during the 60’s and 70’s, but never did really get any bigger.  In 1978, Frank left for Greenville and played with musicians like T-Model Ford and Willie Foster.  Frank kept up his solo career, but Sam would join him sometimes.  He helped with different artists, but basically lived out from Lula, worked on a farm driving a tractor, went to church with his wife, and enjoyed life.  It was always good to meet people with a smile, and Sam Carr was known for his smile.

Sam Carr at his home in Lulu, MS

Sam Carr, Lula, Miss.

After Frank Frost’s death in 1999, Sam decided it was time to start doing more.  He formed his own band called the Delta Jukes and recorded a couple more albums like Down in the Delta in 2004 and Let the Good Times Roll in 2007.  He played in front of thousands throughout Europe, but remained Sam back at Lula.  That was his personality.   Sam Carr passed away on September 21, 2009 after being sick a long time.  He and his wife are buried right across from where they lived in a small cemetery next to their church.  Sam was always known for being one of the nicest men you would ever meet.  He was also a talent and a great musician.

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