Description: Guitarist, USA

Known For: Guitarist, played with Sonny Boy Williamson in his early teens.

Instruments: Guitar

Music Styles: Blues

Location: United States of America

Date Born: 12th July 1935
Location Born: Little Rock, Alaska, United States of America

Date Died: 29th April 1990
Location Died: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America
Cause Of Death: Natural Causes

Memorial: Sammy Lawhorn died at the age of 54.
Web Site:  Sammy Lawhorn”

Other Links: See below



Sammy Lawhorne

Sammy David Lawhorn (July 12, 1935 – April 29, 1990) was an American Chicago blues guitarist, best known as a member of Muddy Waters’ band although he also accompanied many other blues musicians including Otis Spann, Willie Cobbs, Eddie Boyd, Roy Brown, Big Mama Thornton, John Lee Hooker, James Cotton and Junior Wells

Lawhorn was born in Little Rock, Arkansas. His parents soon separated with his mother remarrying, leaving the young Lawhorn cared for by his grandparents. Nailing some baling twine to the side of their home he made his own diddley bow. Frequently visiting his mother and stepfather in Chicago, they bought him a ukulele to play, followed in turn by an acoustic and finally electric guitar. By the age of fifteen, Lawhorn was proficient enough to accompany Driftin’ Slim on stage, and with further guidance from Sonny Boy Williamson II, began playing with him on the King Biscuit Time radio program.

Lawhorn was conscripted in 1953 and served in the United States Navy where, on a tour of duty in Korea, he was injured by enemy fire during aerial reconnaissance. He continued in service and was discharged in 1958, when he moved to Memphis, Tennessee. There he undertook recording sessions with The “5” Royales, Eddie Boyd, Roy Brown and Willie Cobbs. An argument arose with the latter over the writing credits for the song “You Don’t Love Me.” Finding work on his own in Chicago in 1958, Lawhorn soon relocated, despite having a guitar stolen at one of his early club performances.

By the early 1960s, Lawhorn had found regular work as a club sideman to Junior Wells, Otis Rush and Elmore James, which led to him sitting in with Muddy Waters band on a couple of occasions. By October 1964, Lawhorn was invited to join the Muddy Waters band on a full-time basis. Over the next decade, he subsequently played on a number of Muddy Waters’ albums including Live At Mister Kelly’s, The London Muddy Waters Sessions, The Woodstock Album, and Folk Singer.

Lawhorn’s guitar work also featured when Muddy Waters’ band supplied backing to John Lee Hooker, Big Mama Thornton and Otis Spann. Lawhorn’s use of the tremolo arm on his guitar, and his overall playing expertise, saw him later credited by Muddy Waters as the best guitarist he ever had in his band. However, Lawhorn’s career started to be hampered by his drinking. Passing out on stage over his amplifier, off stage whilst sitting in clubs, or missing shows altogether, led to Muddy Waters losing patience and firing Lawhorn in 1973. He was replaced by Bob Margolin.

Lawson simply returned to playing in Chicago clubs, and remained in the recording industry with appearances on Junior Wells’ On Tap, plus James Cotton’s Take Me Back (1987). He also supplied his guitar skills to recorded work by Koko Taylor, Jimmy Witherspoon, Little Mack Simmons, and L. C. Robinson. His work in several Chicago haunts saw him play alongside his childhood idols in T-Bone Walker and Lightnin’ Hopkins. Assistance proffered by Lawhorn to up and coming musicians of the time saw John Primer become a disciple.

A combination of alcoholism and arthritis started to cause Lawhorn’s health to fail. The latter was contributed to when he was thrown from a third floor window by a burglar, breaking both his feet and ankles.

Lawhorn died in April 1990 at the age of 54 with his death certificate citing natural causes.

Selected discography

The following list represents a range of album recordings that featured Lawhorn’s guitar work:

Folk Singer (1964) – Muddy Waters
Blues is Where It’s At (1966) – Otis Spann
Live at the Café Au Go-Go (1966) – John Lee Hooker
The Bluesmen of the Muddy Waters Chicago Blues Band (1966) – Various
Big Mama Thornton with the Muddy Waters Blues Band (1966) – Big Mama Thornton and Muddy Waters
Brass and the Blues (1967) – Muddy Waters
The Bluesmen of the Muddy Waters Blues Band, Volume 2 (1968) – Various
Ball ‘n’ Chain (1968) – Big Mama Thornton
They Call Me Muddy Waters (1970) – Muddy Waters
I Got What It Takes (1975) – Koko Taylor
On Tap (1975) – Junior Wells
Live at Theresa’s 1975 (1975) – Junior Wells
Spoon’s Life (1980) – Jimmy Witherspoon
My Soul is Blue (1980) – Johnny Dollar
Take Me Back (1987) – James Cotton Blues Band


  1. ^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g h i j Chadbourne, Eugene. “Sammy Lawhorn”

    . Allmusic. Retrieved August 2, 2010.

  2. ^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g h Johnson, Greg. “Sammy Lawhorn”

    . Cascadeblues.org. Retrieved August 2, 2010.

  3. Jump up ^ “Sammy Lawhorn | Credits”

    . AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-28.

  4. Jump up ^ “Sammy Lawhorn discography”

    . Wirz.de. Retrieved 2014-01-28.