Steve Alaimo Remembers Sam & Dave’s Early Days in Miami
Miami singer Steve Alaimo once sang with so much soul while opening a Miami Stadium show for James Brown that Brown went backstage and told Henry Stone, “Don’t you ever let that white boy on before me ever again!”
Alaimo started working for Stone as a University of Miami student playing in a college band called The Redcoats. He played weekend hops, sang in lounges, did free afterhours gigs in Overtown, wrote and recorded music, managed acts, worked in TV, A&R’d, promoted records, engineered, produced, toured, and eventually became VP of TK Productions, the largest independent record company in the world throughout the 1970’s.
He also sang gigs with and helped discover Sam & Dave (“Hold On, I’m Comin'”, “Soul Man”) the top selling and charting soul duo in the history of recorded music. Most people don’t know that they formed in and began on the Miami talent show circuit. Here are some of Alaimo’s recollections on their early days.
“I found Sam & Dave at the King of Hearts Club in Liberty City. I sang at King of Hearts too, in fact Sam and Dave were my opening act. They opened up the show and I came on next. Man, that was great in those days.”
“Put it this way, my dressing room was John Lomelo’s office. He was the club’s owner. And in the door, there were bullet holes in it. So when you dressed, the people were lookin’ in through the bullet holes.
There was an office in the back. The crowd was in the front. and the stage was a small riser, and the stage was a dance floor, so you sang on the dance floor if you were an act. If you were a band then you got on the riser, which was only about a foot high.
Those crowds were great. They knew how to appreciate everything. If you were good, they liked ya. If you weren’t, they didn’t make any bones about it.”
“John Lomelo ended up being the mayor of Sunrise. Went to jail for some kind of bullshit. Big white guy. Big burly guy, and he was Sam and Dave’s manager cause he said “I’m your manager.” A tough guy. While he was mayor he went and got arrested, went to jail, came out of jail, and they made him mayor again. They didn’t care because there was no crime in Sunrise. He didn’t take no shit.”
“Back to Sam & Dave. First, I made their records for Henry Stone on Marlin Records, and then we put them with Roulette Records in New York, and put two or three records out, “No More Pain” and a bunch of those things. I wrote their first song, “No More Pain.” Then I went to California to do the show “Where the Action Is” with Dick Clarke on ABC. Henry sent Sam & Dave to Stax….called up Atlantic and Atlantic didn’t do anything with them, so Atlantic sent them to STAX, where Isaac Hayes and David Porter started producing them. And the rest is history.”
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