Sammy Ward, often known by his nickname Singin’ Sammy Ward (given to him by Berry Gordy‘s wife Raynoma), was an American rhythm and blues singer at Motown in the early 1960s.
He grew up in Alabama before moving to Detroit, and there he established himself as a local club singer. Sammy became one of Motown’s first signings when he joined the company in 1960. Recording on the Tamla subsidiary, he had an unexpected R&B hit with “Who’s The Fool?” in 1961, which was Motown’s fourth chart success. He continued to record for Motown into the mid-1960s, eventually moving to the (more appropriate) Soul subsidiary, but found no more success and left the label in 1964.
As Sam Ward, he went on to record (“Stone Broke” b/w “Sister Lee”) for the Groove City label in 1968. Following their release (and commercial failure), he retired from the music industry for good (except for one single, “River Of Tears, in 1977).
Rediscovered by Ian Levine in 1989, Sammy recorded some material for Motorcity Records. This was in spite of the fact that “he was almost impossible to record, as he couldn’t stick to any melody at all, and merely improvised in a bluesy voice”. His single “If At First You Don’t Succeed” was released in 1989. Sammy also made appearances at British soul festivals around this time.
He passed away in 1995, in Detroit.
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