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About The Artist
A fan wrote us a while back asking if we had anything about Willie Samples. Well, sometimes that's how the articles on this site come about - someone prods us and we see where our research takes us.
We first learn about Willie Samples in a couple of mid-1960s publications. Paul and Ruth Charon noted in one of their columns of the constant arrival of newcomers to the Music City, trying to get attention. In a 1967 article, they felt that Willie was one that was going to get noticed.
He had come to Nashville by way of Michigan - where he had spent the years working the local 'honky tonk' night club circuit.
He apparently moved to Nashville about 1964 or so and his efforts finally paid off when John Denny noticed him after a reference from songwriter Wayne Walker. That 1967 article noted they had heard him and his "soulful voice" coming out of the 109 Club on their way to the Opry. He was being managed by Barbara Martin at the time. This may be the same Barbara Martin that was managing Jimmy Martin at the time.
Mr. Denny signed Willie to a recording contract for his Dollie label.
In the next issue of Country Music Life, Mary Ann Cooper makes note of a visit from Barbara Martin in Clinton, Illinois and comments that Willie had been booked for an engagement at the Sangamon Park in the spring of 1967. Ms. Cooper thought that Willie could be in the same category as newcomers such as Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard at that time.
In April 1967, Billboard reviewed his recording on the Dollie label and "predicted" it would make the Hot Country Singles chart. That recording was "The OTher You."
Willie was one of five acts that gave audiences a free concert at the Forest Park Bandshell in Queens, New York on July 27, 1974. The show was produced by Richie Allen and radio station WHN's Stan Martin. The show also included Walt Conklin of MGM Records, Nick Shaffran, Al and Karol and the Roadside Ramblers. It was billed as an appreciation to the fans of country music in the WHN listening audience. The venue could seat more than 4,000 people.
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