Sam Moore The Soul Man

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As Georges Bizet, the famous French composer once wrote, "music, what a splendid art. And what a sad profession." Bizet did not live long enough to see his operatic masterpiece ‘Carmen’ become a major success. The statement certainly rings true for Bizet, who died from angina, aged just 36.


However, what if you are a blessed artist and a master in your chosen craft. Moreover during your lifespan, you manage to beat the odds. You cheat death and exorcize all the demons in your head. Then surely the art becomes a happy profession. This is certainly the case for Sam Moore.

Sam Moore is the famous soul singer from the hip shaking, finger snapping, rhythm and blues power duo Sam and Dave. Sam Moore is a man who has overcome many of life’s obstacles, to reach personal fulfilment and gain worldwide recognition as a talented singer and status as a living legend. At the grand age of 72, Sam Moore is gratified with life, his family and his fascinating career.

At an early age, Sam Moore found that he had an innate talent for singing. He wasted no time in developing his natural skill in the sweaty clubs of his hometown of Miami, Florida in the late 50’s and early 60’s.

In 1961, by chance, Sam Moore joined forces with collaborator Dave Prater to form Sam and Dave. Sam and Dave wanted to sing and the world to listen. Sam and Dave signed to Roulette Records. Then in 1965, they signed to Atlantic Records. Sam and Dave were now ready to join the growing soul movement which was taking the world by storm, especially on the shores of Great Britain. Where sharp dressed young teenagers would seek refuge in smoked filled clubs and dance until dawn to transatlantic soul. With the likes of Wilson Pickett, Geno Washington, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin and Sam & Dave becoming heroes to the working class youth of Britain of 60’s. The UK was witnessing the birth of the 1st generation of Mods.

As the swinging sixties ended, Sam and Dave AKA Double Dynamite decided to call it a day. Despite several attempts at reunions in the 70’s, and one in the early 80’s, the chemistry had disappeared, as the duo went through the motions as opposed to delivering the songs with zeal.

Since that day, Sam Moore has spent the next three decades performing on the live circuit with a welcome return to the studio in 2006. It was a year that showed that Sam Moore is back on top of his game. His long overdue solo album ‘Overnight Sensational’ (Rhino Records) produced by Randy Jackson, American Pop Idol judge, has been met with critical acclaim.

The album features Sam Moore dueting with a galaxy of stars such as Jon Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, the late and great Billy Preston and many more. Once the word was out that Sam was back in the studio, the phone did not stop ringing.

sam moore 12006 was also good to Sam Moore, as he was given a lifetime achievement by MOBO. In addition he closed the year in the UK by singing one of Sam and Dave’s greatest songs, ‘Soul Man’ at the stroke of Midnight on New Year’s Eve on the Jools Holland Later TV show. What a way to see the year out, and welcome the new one in.

At ZANI, we have always been massive soul music fans. So when we had the opportunity to interview Sam Moore, we said yes without a moment’s hesitation.

ZANI caught up with Sam and his wife Joyce Moore in a delightful little restaurant in London EC1. Even before we asked Sam his first question, his beautiful beaming smile gave us a feeling of belonging and genuine warmth.

ZANI - You’ve just done the Soul Britannia concert at the Barbican. Pleased to be back in the UK?

Sam Moore – Yeah, it’s cool, this is the sixth time I have been here in the last 18 months.

ZANI - I know you adore Baker Street and the Chinese restaurants that Soho’s Chinatown has to offer. What else do you like about the UK?

Sam Moore – What have you been doing, following me?

ZANI – No, just intensive research

Sam Moore – I love everything. When I first came here in the 60’s , as Sam and Dave. I didn’t know what to expect, as we didn’t have a show lined out. We just knew that we had to be the very best at what we did.

ZANI – Well, Sam and Dave certainly did that.

Sam Moore – Thank you, it’s nice to know the hard work paid off.

ZANI - Let’s quickly move to 2007. Your producer for Overnight Sensational, Randy Jackson is a Pop Idol Judge. How do you think Sam Moore would fare in Pop Idol?

Sam Moore – I think that I would be OK as a duet, I do because I am sort of a blues singer so when it comes to everyone singing together, I could have hung in there. Now as far as a solo artist, I don’t know.

ZANI – With regard to your album, you dedicate one song ‘Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)’ to Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, who wrote the song. Was it that song that got you signed by Ahmet, when he heard you and your then singing partner Dave Prater perform at a club in Miami?

Sam Moore – Yes, I was in Miami Florida in a club called The King of Hearts, and we were playing as Sam and Dave. Ahmet and his friends came by the club that night, it was nothing planned. He came in, I was singing lead on song, and that’s how Sam and Dave were discovered.

ZANI - Before we chat about your life, and Sam and Dave, there is a Sam Moore lost album Plenty Good Lovin, from the early 70’s. Are there any plans from you and Rhino Records to re–release the album?

Sam Moore – Yes, there are plans but nothing definitive at the moment. Everyone likes it

ZANI - You were born and raised in Miami Florida, I understand that you were a quiet child but trouble was always around the corner? Is that right, were you a juvenile delinquent?

Sam Moore – Ha, I don’t know about juvenile delinquent. What my biggest problem was, that I couldn’t stay away from the girls. That’s what got me into trouble.

ZANI - Was being a singer your first career choice, if so what made you come to this conclusion?

Sam Moore – No, I wanted to be a Minister. When I was little boy in Miami, at the weekends I would go in the front yard, stand on a crate, and preach from a bible. But it wasn’t a bible, it was a comic book. People would come by and listen to this cute 5 year old. By the side of the crate, I would have a little hat to collect money. My mother would come out and shout "What are you doing, you can’t collect money like that, your Minister days are over"

ZANI - Was it gospel music around the house that got you into singing?

Sam Moore – Yes, ‘Jesus Loves Me As I Know’, that was the first song I sang as a solo but I’ve forgotten the words now. But the only reason I decided to sing in the local band, was to meet a girl. Everything I did, was for the girls

ZANI – So that’s what got you into singing, chasing skirt?

Sam Moore – Ha, chasing the skirt. I loved it, and I am not going to deny it. I saw this girl in a band, and I wanted to go for this girl. So I got in the band telling them I could play an instrument, but I couldn’t play an instrument. But it was a way of getting near to her. My Aunt bought me an Alto Saxophone, and she would say "Can you really play? Because I have never heard you play." "Of course I can play," I replied as we came out of the music store. Then I went to the band practice, to see this girl. The bandleader had to show me how to put the saxophone together, and he said to me "Do you know how to play a solo, read music?" I said "Sure I do".

The band was playing well, then it came to my solo, and I just hit a bum note. The whole band stopped and stared at me in total disbelief. The bandleader said "Have you got enough light?" "Yea" I said. So they tried the song again, and the same thing happened. The bandleader came over to me and pulled the sax out of my hand, yelling at me to leave and to never come back. But it done the trick, because the girl in the band and I have a 54 year old daughter.

ZANI – Nice one, your ploy worked.

Sam Moore – I knew it would.

ZANI - You shot to fame in the mid 60’s, as part of the famous soul duo Sam and Dave. It was a long road, as you met your singing partner Dave Prater in 1961. What was your first meeting like?

Sam Moore – It wasn’t all that great. There was no plan to form Sam and Dave, it was a fluke. Dave came to the club which I was MCing at, during amateur hour. I had heard about this young man, who was singing songs all over the clubs in Florida like Sam Cooke. He came up to me at the club, and asked if he could sing. I asked him his name, and he said "Dave, Dave Prater". I replied in a forceful manner "You’re the guy that sings all the Sam Cooke songs" I didn’t think anyone could ever sing or sound as good as Sam Cooke. Dave said that he wasn’t going to do any Sam Cooke’s but Jackie Wilson that night. So I signed him up, and the rest is history.

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ZANI - Before you signed to Atlantic records, and found commercial success, did you and Dave used to get drunk and dream about hitting the big time?

Sam Moore – No, not a total.

ZANI - What were the early days like for Sam and Dave with your first label, Roulette Records?

Sam Moore – I did not know at the time, that the Mafia owned Roulette Records. No one told me. The guy who was in charge was Morris Levy, who had strong connections to the Mafia. Roulette weren’t doing anything for Sam and Dave, no promotion, nothing, the records weren’t going anywhere. Whilst other labels like Motown were pushing their artistes forward. I didn’t know what to do. This guy, who was working for Roulette, said why don’t you go to Morris and get out of your record contract. I didn’t know you could do that, shows you how much I knew back then.

ZANI – Thinking about the girls perhaps?

Sam Moore – Maybe. Morris had a beach house in Miami. Dave and me, went to his house, and rang the doorbell. A white maid came to the door, and gave me and Dave a dirty look. You have to understand that this was the 60’s, and we were just starting to depart from colour segregation in the buses and restaurants. "My name is Sam, and this Dave, and we’re here to see Mr Levy".

The maid slammed the door in our face. So we rang the bell again and she answered the door and yelled "You will have to go round the side, you’re not coming through the house." A very brash woman. We went round the side of the house. Morris Levy was sitting on the lawn with a few beautiful girls in bikinis, and these tough looking guys with heavy coats on. Not the sort of clothes to wear in the Florida Sunshine, but great for concealing guns.

ZANI – Very Michael Corleone.

Sam Moore – You bet it was. Morris Levy didn’t even know who we were. "Who are you?" he asked. "Mr Levy, sir, we’ve come to get our contracts" "What contract?" Morris replied. "We’re signed to your label Sir" He calls his secretary to go and get our contracts, and then gives our contracts back. Whilst he’s finding our contracts I start to make eyes with one of the girls, I ask her if she’s married. She is, to Mr Levy. So Dave and I leave the house in a hurry.

ZANI – Still chatting up the girls

Sam Moore – Afraid so.

ZANI - I understand that you attended a meeting after the Clay/Liston fight in Miami. Present were Malcolm X, Cassius Clay, Sam Cooke,

Otis Redding, and you. Was the meeting about the possibility of starting a black owned label?

Sam Moore – It was Otis and I. Otis wasn’t pleased with his label. So we were talking about where the royalties were going, and maybe we should start our own label. But it never occurred, because of what happened to Otis.

ZANI – Were Clay (before he was Ali) or Malcolm X involved?

Sam Moore – No, neither of them were. I used to go to this gym on the beach to see a young Clay spar after he came back from the Rome Olympics. He was amazing to watch. I am saying this as a man, he was very good looking. He was smooth, with the way he walked, talked, and boxed. He would come to the clubs, over the years and we became very close friends.

ZANI – Are you still good friends?

Sam Moore - Yes. I moved to Arizona, so has Ali. It hurts me to see how Ali is ill these days with Parkinson’s disease. In Arizona, they have Ali’s fight nights. I’ve gone twice, I don’t want to go again. It just saddens me to see my friend like that, he is so sick.

ZANI – Were you friends with Malcolm X?

Sam Moore - Yeah. At one time, I was trying to find myself, so I became a follower of Elijah Muhammad. I would listen to Malcolm X in the street, he was so mesmerising. Malcolm was something of a Nat King Cole. What I mean by this, is that he had green eyes, just like Nat King Cole.

In the last year of his life, Malcolm X had been to Mecca, and he was telling the story that we should stop putting all the blame on the white man.

ZANI – Which is what Martin Luther King, was trying to do.

Sam Moore - One time Martin Luther King and Malcolm X had issues with each other. Malcolm X would call Martin Luther King, a sell out, which wasn’t true. But at the time I thought it was true, because I was a follower of Malcolm X. The dream that Martin had, as to what we are doing today, this is not his dream. It’s sad, you know.

ZANI – Where were you, when Malcolm X was assassinated?

Sam Moore – I was in New York. I was living with a young lady, by the name of Esther. She was cero, she was black but with different blood in her, Spanish, Italian. I was sitting in the house and I sent her to Harlem to get drugs for me. I’m watching on the TV the assassination of Malcolm X, I am going ‘oh man’. I get a phone call from Esther, she says to me in tears, "can you come and get me" I said "Not really, have you heard the latest". "That’s what I calling about, they’ve assassinated Malcolm, I’m in Harlem and I look white." Oh god I thought. I caught the train to Harlem found out where she was. These guys had her in a corner in the ghetto. I talked the guys round and managed to get her and me home safely.

ZANI – So with Malcolm’s death, there were strong moments of civil unrest within the black community?

Sam Moore – Yea, what they don’t understand. It was Blacks that shot him.

ZANI – Going back to the idea of Black record label owned. Did you feel that Tamla Motown was making soul music to appeal to the whites in the 60’s?

Sam Moore – No, Berry Gordy had a vision and Berry Gordy took that vision to the world. To give them something different, something new. It had nothing to do with trying to push soul music onto the whites.

ZANI – Would you have liked Sam and Dave to have signed to Motown?

Sam Moore – No, it didn’t even cross our minds. At one time Stax were trying to compete with Motown, and I remember Jim Stewart, saying to Estelle Axton (Stax Records founders). "Look let’s stop. First of all Motown have other vision. Gordy isn’t thinking about what we are doing in Memphis. He’s thinking way ahead. Second of all, Motown are way too big, you can’t compete with them. Stop trying to, you’re too small. Motown are getting bigger and larger, stop. They are competing with Atlantic & Colombia. Stax are just a small company. Let’s keep what we got here, and let’s make the best we can."

ZANI - Well they did, Stax is a great label.

Sam Moore – Stax were much better off when they decided to go down that road, and not compete with Motown.

ZANI - When you signed to Atlantic in 1965, you were effectively loaned out to Stax. Did you feel excited about joining the growing soul movement, especially in London?

Sam Moore – No, not really. We didn’t really know what was going in England. When we first came over here, we came with Otis Redding. Otis had been over here before us We came over here, with the Stax tour. We were hot. Everyone on this tour had a hit record at the time. Eddie Floyd, BT and the MG’s. We had a great time.

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ZANI - Stax didn’t assign their hitmakers Booker T Jones and Steve Cropper to write your songs. Instead it was two young songwriters and producers, Isaac Hayes and Dave Porter. They wrote many hits such as, ‘Hold On I’m Coming’ and ‘Soul Man’. What was the chemistry like within that team?

Sam Moore – When I first met Isaac and Dave Porter, I thought we weren’t going to have a career.

ZANI – Really, they didn’t set your soul on fire?

Sam Moore – No, what you’ve got to understand. There was Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, and all of these goods things coming out of Motown, like Marvin Gaye. We went in the studio, and Jim Stewart said these are going to be the producers. I thought ‘oh brother’. There was no chemistry at first between us. They started playing us songs, which they wanted us to do. I think the first song they gave us, was ‘Jody Rider’ or something like that. You can look it up. I was going inside ‘oh boy’, and then I was upset because I didn’t see no girls. All these guys around and no woman. I started crying. I went back to Miami, on a downer.

ZANI – What about when they played things like ‘Hold On I’m Coming’ for the first time, did you think it was going to be a hit?

Sam Moore – Oh no.

ZANI – What? How about ‘Soul Man’?

Sam Moore – Hmmm, I (Long pause) thought it was okay. I liked ‘Something Is Wrong’, or ‘I Take What I Want’. But when I first heard ‘Soul Man’, I was thinking ‘what the hell is this song all about?’

ZANI - Staying with ‘Soul Man’, do you, or did you ever, bear a grudge against Lulu, as her song ‘To Sir With Love’, stopped ‘Soul Man’ from being number one in the UK?

Sam Moore – Yeah, I know and I did get annoyed about it. To Sir With Love, was a movie with Sidney Poitier. Sidney was born in Miami, and grew up in Cat Island, The Bahamas. I knew his family. Sidney did the movie, and we cut the song at the same time. Every time I would see Sidney, I would go "Sid, you owe me one". He would say, "What are you talking about?" I would say "You kept my song going from number one". This went on for many years. I saw Sidney many years later at a movie convention.

He had just finished playing Nelson Mandela in ‘Mandela and de Klerk.’ I went to him, and said "Sidney." He’s such a gentlemen, (mocks posh voice) "Hello Sam, how are you?" I said "you owe me Sidney." He said, - as he was getting very tired of it by now - " Sam, stop, First of all I didn’t sing To Sir With Love. Second, I didn’t have anything to do with the music. Third, if you’ve got a problem, go and to talk to the people who cut the movie, I had nothing to do with it. Get away from me."

ZANI – He wasn’t pleased.

Sam Moore – (Loud Laugh) You could say that.

ZANI - Going to back to the Stax revue that toured Europe. Is it true that Sam and Dave stole the show from Otis Redding?

Sam Moore – From Otis? Nah. Who says that? I didn’t look at it that way. Sam and Dave just done what they have always done. We sang hard, and we would do anything, short of taking of our clothes off, to sing hard. We weren’t dancers, we didn’t have girls dancing behind us. We had to stand there and sing. We sweated, we preached, we did everything. We weren’t doing this to upstage Otis. Otis liked us for putting what he called that ‘pressure’ into our singing. That’s what Sam and Dave had, pressure.

ZANI - Sam and Dave earnt the nickname, Double Dynamite. Is that a fair analysis?

Sam Moore – It was a play on words. That came from the tour in England. Even today Sam and Dave, have more respect in Europe, then we did back home.

We get more respect in the UK, Japan and Holland than the States. Maybe in the States, they viewed Sam and Dave as junkies, I don’t know.

ZANI – Your addiction to Heroin didn’t really come out until the 70’s. But was it known in the 60’s, that you and Dave were drug addicts?

Sam Moore – That’s a good question. We wanted so badly to be accepted by our peers. Well I wanted it, I can’t speak for Dave. I wanted it so badly, to be accepted for what we were doing.

But as soon as our career began going downhill. People started to speak out about our problems with drugs.

ZANI - Towards the end of the 60’s, it became obvious that you and Dave didn’t get on. I heard that you started singing "She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes" at one gig over Dave’s vocals. Were you and Dave ever friends, or was it a working relationship?

Sam Moore – We were never close, close. But we were close. However, I think that the career went downhill, when Dave went home, and shot his wife. I took it upon myself to say to Dave," I’ll sing with you, but I won’t talk to you."

ZANI – So that was the last straw in your relationship with Dave?

Sam Moore – I took it upon myself to become Judge, Jury and Executioner.

ZANI – Did you go to Dave’s funeral in 1988?

Sam Moore – No I wasn’t invited

ZANI – Really?

Sam Moore – Yeah, really. Sam and Dave first split in 1969, because I wanted to do other stuff other then ‘Soul Man’. Then after the Blues Brothers done it, I was forced to go back. I had no choice, but our career was over, it was nothing. You know, we were doing wet tee shirt nights, stuff like that.

ZANI – Chicken in the basket cabaret?
 
Sam Moore – Ha. It wasn’t a special or a good time. When I got back with Dave, we got addicted to heroin again. We split up again in 1982, that was the last time I ever saw Dave.

ZANI - The 70’s and early 80s seem like a very bleak period for you, especially for Sam and Dave.

Sam Moore – Yea, Oh my god it was real bad. You’ve got to understand it wasn’t a promoter that broke Sam and Dave, it was us. Sometimes Dave would show up, and I wouldn’t. Sometimes I would show, and he wouldn’t. We’d get up on stage, but it wasn’t like the old days when we connected, and say to each other "Let’s go and get them". We were getting high, I was pimping my girlfriends at the time. It wasn’t such a good life then.

ZANI - I understand that it was the death of John Belushi, co star of The Blues Brothers in 1982, which helped you to clean up?

Sam Moore – I was in California, living in Joyce’s house at the time. I weighed about 118 pounds, with rotting teeth. They good look now, because they are all new and I’ve had them bleached. Anyway I looked in the mirror, and thought oh my god. Because of the things I was doing, which was cocaine and heroin, you know. I remember a lady talking on TV about a doctor out of California, who had done an anti drug treatment. Joyce and I got in the car, two hours going, two hours coming back. I had an examination, the doctor knew who I was because it was set up that way, to tell them who you were. The doctor said to Joyce, the doc didn’t tell me, but Joyce told me later what the doctor had said. "If he lives another 6 months, he’ll be lucky"

ZANI – So they gave you 6 months to live.

Sam Moore – That’s what they gave me. My liver, blood pressure, my heart were bad. My voice was gone. But by then I didn’t care, I really didn’t care. I was doing my first concert in Houston, Texas. I remember going to the hotel, I was sick. Joyce said my eyes were rolling in my head. All she could do was to keep me warm. Because my temperature had sky rocketed, I called a doctor, but I didn’t tell him that I had done drugs. I went in a bathtub to cool down, because now I was too hot. It was scary.

Then I started praying. I wasn’t being religious, I was scared. Then I started saying, "I ain’t going out like this." I got out of the bathtub, got into bed dripping wet. The next day I done the show, it was one of the worst shows I have ever done. I was sweating, all over the place, you know. The promoter didn’t pay me. That was the last time I done drugs, I’ve been clean for 25 years now.

ZANI – Nice one.

Sam Moore - Thank you.

ZANI - Staying with Belushi. His hit film The Blues Brothers, with Dan Aykroyd, brought the soul vibe to a whole new generation. Was Jake and Elwood based on Sam and Dave?

Sam Moore – At the time Dan Aykroyd said John Lee Hooker. Why Danny told that lie I will never know. A lot of people said it was Sam and Dave.

ZANI - How would you describe your journey to 2007?

Sam Moore – It’s been interesting. If you had asked me many years ago, would I have made it up until now. I would have said probably not. Today I’m 72, I am in good shape. I enjoy singing on stage, I don’t enjoy the travel as much as I did.

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ZANI – What about the future?

Sam Moore - I’ve spoken to Joyce, to Randy and my family members. I am going to make a decision about what I am going to do. I would like to do another album, but I don’t know if I am going to continue travelling.

ZANI – You’ve been there, seen it, done it, and you know you can do it again.

Sam Moore – Yeah man. You know what I’m saying, I’ve had a good time.

ZANI - Music is a big part of your life. Outside of this world, what else keeps you happy?

Sam Moore – Playing golf.

ZANI - The soul man becomes a golf man

Sam Moore – I love it. I done an interview with TV guide a while back, and I got them to caddy for me at the golf course.

ZANI – Very cheeky.

Sam Moore – Hah.

ZANI - You have won many awards over the years, which one means the most to you?

Sam Moore – The MOBO.

ZANI - Finally Sam, are you still a soul man?

Sam Moore – (Long Pause) I would say that I am the most blessed man to sing ‘Soul Man’.

Fine words from the man with the captivating smile. Sam Moore has certainly been blessed and privileged to have in his roister of songs, hits such as ‘Soul Man’, ‘Hold On I’m Coming’, ‘Brown Sugar’, ‘Soul Sister’ and many more. Songs that you will always find on any number of soul compilation CD’s cementing the legacy of Sam and Dave. Sam Moore’s career and life has been varied to say the least. From performing with his heart and soul, to stealing loose change from parking meters to feed a drugs habit.

Yet he prevailed, removed all the excess baggage and is singing again for pleasure. His latest album, ‘Overnight Sensational’ is not only a celebration of his career but also a commemoration of the soul music movement over the last 5 decades. The album is captivity from start to finish. From the production and musicianship, you can hear that a lot of hard work and love has been put into this project.

Overnight Sensational will get your mojo working, and shaking your moneymaker. Any soul fan should own a copy. Whether Sam Moore records again only he holds the key to that answer. If he does not, then he leaves his mark on the world of music on a big natural high.

Sam Moore may be one of the last spokesmen for the golden generation of soul. With many of his contemporaries, like Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, and many more have sadly passed away. Let’s hope there are some young people ready to keep the flame of soul music burning forever. Amy Winehouse can still hold that torch bright - please.

With all the heartache and pleasure Sam Moore has felt and endured, he has become a legend. He shines bright, not only as a sensational singer, but also as a human being. Yet without the help and support of Joyce, his wife and manager, and Sam’s deep down desire to change. Sam Moore’s life could have easily fitted into Bizet’s statement. We thank our lucky stars it did not.

©Matteo Sedazzari/ZANI
Read 2522 times Last modified on Friday, 08 May 2015 15:59

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ZANI was conceived in late 2008 and the fan base gradually grew by word of mouth. Key contributors came from those of the music, film and fashion industry and the voice of ZANI grew louder. So, when in 2013 investor, contributor and fan of ZANI Alan McGee* offered his support to help restyle and relaunch the site it was inevitable that traffic would increase dramatically and continues to grow. *Alan McGee co-founder of Creation Records and new label 359 Music..

 

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