Archive for Big Sambo and the Housewreckers

Rock Moment: Big Sambo Comes Home

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , on January 10, 2010 by 30daysout

James Young, a.k.a. Big Sambo

In Port Arthur, Texas, there’s an unlikely tourist attraction – or it would be a tourist attraction if more people knew about it.  It’s called the Museum of the Gulf Coast, and once you get past the typical everytown historical artifacts you come to a section called “Music Legends,” which spotlights the talent who were born, raised and lived in Southeast Texas.

Of course there’s Janis Joplin, Lonnie Brooks, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, George Jones, Jivin’ Gene … the list is quite long.  This section of the museum is more than worth the entry fee, because it’s richer than the better-known Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.  You can hear the music, but many times you don’t get the great stories.  Today I want to share with you one of those stories: the tale of Big Sambo.

In June 1983, a man named James Harold Young died in Port Arthur.  Earlier in his life, he was known as Big Sambo, a saxophone-playing R&B singer with a beautiful singing voice.  A few days after he died, this is the story that appeared the Port Arthur News:

On June 19, 1981, the Port Arthur Civic Center jumped and throbbed to the sound of rock and roll.  Dancers choked the aisles as more than 2,000 concergoers embraced the second annual Jaycees’ Fifties rock revival show.

Probably the biggest hit of the night was a soft-spoken, unassuming musician whose saxophone and voice mesmerized the crowd.  For James “Big Sambo” Young, it was a big night; playing before his hometown, it was the proudest moment of his life.

Last Friday, at 1:08 a.m., James “Big Sambo” Young died at Park Place hospital.  His heart stopped too soon at the age of 45; he was buried on Tuesday.  The area and the world have lost an immense talent.  We have all lost a great friend.

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