Today marks 2 months since my brother Sam passed away. I’m still recovering from the loss and the sadness lingers. It is one of those things in life that you just don’t see coming that knocks the wind out of you. I have a literal lifetime of thoughts, memories, adventures and outside humor tied to him. I miss him immensely and think about him all the time. I still can’t believe he’s gone.
The pure shock of it all comes from the fact that Sam was 53 years old and lived the epitome of an active athletic lifestyle. He always seemed tougher, more intense and more determined than the average person. His death is a blunt reminder that any of us can go at any time so live your life to the fullest and show love to the people who deserve it.
During his power packed life, Sam did many rad things. He achieved a black belt in karate, climbed mountains including Mount Rainier multiple times and backpacked/mountain biked/snow skied in extreme situations all over the country all while working a long fruitful career with Norfolk Southern Railway. He was also a badass water skier. We had some of the best times ever growing up on the lakes of East Tennessee. We raised our fair share of hell out there.
Sam was also a shredding guitar player as far back as I can remember. He was my first guitar hero and will always remain on my list of favorite players. When I was a little kid during the ‘70s heyday of hard rock, he was an axe slingin’ teenager into all the best music at that time. I used to sneak into his room every chance I got to play his guitar when he wasn’t around. He introduced me to so much great metal, prog, fusion and rock at a very young age. Artists like Kiss, Judas Priest, Jeff Beck, UFO, Tommy Bolin, Deep Purple, Van Halen, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rush, Rick Derringer, Johnny Winter, Larry Carlton, Dixie Dregs and so much more. It shaped and molded the musician that I am today which is rooted in the old school.
When I finally got my own guitar in the early ‘80s, Sam was the only person I ever took lessons from. He taught me fundamental chords/scales, how to solo over a 12 bar blues, riffs of the day like Crazy Train, songs like Juggler by Axis and the Kiss “Alive!” version of Let Me Go Rock N Roll from start to finish as well as many other tricks of the trade. I will forever be grateful to him for pointing me in the right direction and helping me find my true passion because up until I got my guitar, I was pretty lost in life.
So the last time Sam and I jammed together was when he visited Los Angeles late last year. Thankfully, I recorded our final musical adventure. On the 13th of November 2014, Sam flew in town and we went straight to my jamroom. I set up the mics, he grabbed my black GJ2 Glendora, I got behind the drum kit and we went for it. He had a few riffs at the ready and we just improvised and came up with the rest. His main rhythm guitar track was recorded live with the drums. We actually finished “Part 1” while he was in town. I edited an arrangement from our jam and overdubbed the bass, and then Sam overdubbed the rhythm double and solos. We were both stoked by the final result of this spontaneous creation.
I had kind of forgotten about the rest of that session until recently. I pulled up the files and was reminded that we had done another killer basic track. I then started assembling “Part 2”. Again, I edited an arrangement of our jam and then overdubbed the bass. I was happy to find that I had plenty to work with because there was a bunch of extra Sam shredding in the outtakes. Once the song was assembled, I added a rhythm guitar track that mimicked what Sam had played live in the jamroom to fill things out. I think he would be really happy with how it turned out. I can see him smiling.
These 2 songs are extremely special to me for obvious reasons. I wanted to share them so I decided to put them out as a free download via my Neanderthal project. The heavy nature of the instrumental music fits with my catalogue nicely. Sam was a huge supporter of Neanderthal so I figured I would honor his memory by making his awesome guitar playing the centerpiece of this release.
The cover photo was taken by my wife Tairrie when she, Sam and I went to Joshua Tree the day after these jams were recorded. This was one of the last memories and adventures we shared with Sam and it was a beautiful memorable day. It seemed like a fitting image for the cover.
I hope you enjoy this musical tribute to my brother. It is meant with the utmost love and respect… in loving memory.
Sam M Murphy III - 03/08/62 - 09/19/15 - RIP
I love and miss you, brother.
released November 19, 2015
Sam M Murphy III - lead & rhythm guitar
Mick Murphy - bass & drums (rhythm guitar on track 2)
written by Sam M Murphy III & Mick Murphy
arranged, engineered & mixed by Mick Murphy
recorded at the jamroom 11/13/14
all rights reserved