NEMCC names Blues legend Sam Mosley to Alumni Hall of Fame class

September 13, 2019


For over 70 years, Northeast Mississippi Community College alumni Sam Mosley has been gracing the hills country of Mississippi and the entire Magnolia State with his gift of blues music.

A native of the Beaver Dam community in Union County and the son of a sharecropper, Mosley’s love for music started young by listening to his father Joe Mosley play the mandolin in a string band with his brothers Bud and Theodore. 

However, Sam Mosley’s music career began to blossom early when he joined with his brothers Jamie and Ralph, as they started performing as the “Starlighters,” in the 1950s and then “Jamie Mosley & the Dynamics,” later on in the decade.

Mosley’s career has spanned over seven decades and due to his numerous contributions to not only Northeast but the world of blues music, he is the college’s Alumni Hall of Fame inductee for 2019.

Mosley will be enshrined along with other notable Northeast alumni such as Harold E. Lomenick (Class of 2018), Hugh McLarty (Class of 2017), Travis Childers (Class of 2016), Vance Witt and Earline “Woodsie” Woods (Class of 2015), Dr. William G. Jackson (Class of 2014), James Seth Pounds and Cathy M. Roberson (Class of 2013) and Major General Augustus Leon Collins and the honorable William “Billy Joe” McCoy (Class of 2012).

Northeast will hold an induction ceremony for Mosley and the three members of the college’s Sports Hall of Fame class – Anthony Gamble, William “Billy” Southward and Shirley Hall White, on Thursday, September 19 at 4:30 p.m. in the Claude Wright Room of the Haney Union.

In addition to the induction ceremony, members of the Alumni Hall of Fame and the Sports Hall of Fame will be recognized prior to the Northeast football team’s game with Holmes Community College that night. 

Mosley will also serve as the Northeast Development Foundation and Alumni Association’s representative and will present Homecoming Queen Victoria Brown of New Albany with flowers during the crowning of the queen ceremony as part of homecoming festivities at halftime.

Mosley has tirelessly served the college including providing a pair of free concerts to Northeast employees, students and the community.

In 2016, “Northeast Learns the Blues with Sam Mosley,” drew 427 people to a concert in the Claude Wright Room of the Haney Union and in 2015, “A Night of Music and Memories with Sam Mosley” drew a crowd of over 300 people.

Mosley was even the focus of a keynote video at the college’s InService in 2018, where he talked about his time at Northeast and how the college had shaped his views on life.


SAM MOSLEY BACKGROUND

Mosley’s views on education were shaped earlier than that during his time at the B.F. Ford School in New Albany where he realized the value of an education and wanted to go to college to be a schoolteacher.

However, life had other plans. 

Mosley was drafted into the United States Army in 1965 and served until 1967 — which included a tour in Vietnam from 1966-1967. 

Upon his return to the states in 1967, Mosley reconnected with friend, Bob Johnson, who informed him that Northeast was re-organizing its football team after an 11-year hiatus and they were asked by legendary Northeast football coach William B. “Bill” Ward if they wanted to be on it. 

Mosley and Johnson enrolled at Northeast in 1968 and it was during that first season back, that Mosley put his mark in the Northeast football record book by becoming the first African American to catch a touchdown pass when he hauled in a touchdown pass on a play called “190 Sideline and Go,” and helped Northeast beat Southwest Mississippi 33-20 on September 7, 1968.

While Mosley was leaving his mark in the history books at Northeast, it was during his time at the Booneville-based college that he and Johnson were solidifying their blues music and after they would finish football practice in the afternoons, the duo along with Robert “Pistol” McGlown, would make their way to Memphis to play in the blues clubs in the Bluff City. 

Mosley was the astute student and made sure that his grades were in order, even though his time was split between the classrooms, football and the blues clubs and graduated with from Northeast with an Associate of Arts degree in business data processing. 

Mosley’s education did not stop there and went on to the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1973.

While his love for being a schoolteacher never faded, Mosley knew that he wanted to share his love of music to the masses. 

Mosley’s music career picked up when he reconnected with Johnson. After agreeing to a creative partnership, the duo tried to decide on a name for a group and went through phases of “Bobby Johnson and the Messengers,” “Sam and Bob and The Soul Men,” and even “Mojoba,” before finally settling in on “The Mosley and Johnson Band.”

While the name took a while to come up with, one thing was for certain, Mosley and Johnson’s music was in high demand in the Mississippi Hill Country and across the Magnolia State.

In 1967, Mosley and Johnson started recording at the John Mahalic studio in Tupelo but their big break came in 1968 when, while performing at a Memphis nightclub, the duo was asked for some demos and was soon on their way to recording with Hi Recording Studio in Memphis.

While with Hi Records, the pair released a pair of 45 records with the songs “Gimme Some Lovin’” and “Is It Over?” which Mosley performed under the pseudonym, David Duke.

In 1971, Mosley and Johnson released their first album together, Mississippi Mud, under their own record label – SABO Music – as Sam and Bob and the Soulmen.

Soon after the release of Mississippi Mud, Mosley and Johnson found themselves at Malaco Records in Jackson and produced three albums for the central Mississippi label.

In addition to their own record release, Johnson and Mosley also recorded for Polydor records in the 1970s as Mojoba before finally finding their identity as The Mosley and Johnson Band.

During over 30 years working together, Mosley and Johnson, neither of whom had formal music training, steadily learned the music world and became one of the go-to duos for not only performing on stage but also in a studio and writing songs for other artists including Malaco artists such as Bobby “Blue” Bland, Little Milton, Johnnie Taylor and multiple other musicians throughout the Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama region like Z.Z. Hill and his hit song, “Down Home Blues.”
Throughout their careers, Mosley and Johnson had the opportunity to work with the vaunted Muscle Shoals studio band in Alabama.

Mosley and Johnson’s career continued to reach new heights throughout the 1980s with the release for the self-titled album “Mosley & Johnson” in 1985 and “Mosley & Johnson Premium” in 1987. 

Johnson and Mosley’s song, “Rock Me,” came off the 1985 album and the duo’s “Slide On,” helped the pair earn their first gold record for songwriting and producing.

However, in 1989, Mosley and Johnson reached the international market when the pair set out on a European tour and played in such European cities as London, Paris and Switzerland. The pinnacle of the European tour for Mosley and Johnson was the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland where the duo got to perform on stage with Blues musician B.B. King.

Sadly, Johnson passed away while performing onstage during a Verona performance in 1998 but Mosley has kept the name alive and continued to perform with Johnson’s brothers Willie and Miles as part of the Mosley Johnson Band.

In 2000, Mosley and Johnson were nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album off of Bobby Bland’s “Memphis Monday Morning,”…only to lose out to King’s “Blues on the Bayou.”

In 2008, The Mosley Johnson Band was honored with a marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail in New Albany at the corner of Washington and Cleveland streets. The Mississippi Blues Trail contains 120 markers throughout the Magnolia State and outside the state with 30 of the markers contained in the Mississippi “Hills Country.”

During his performance times, Mosley has had the opportunity to play with Blues greats such as Lou Rawls, Bobby Bland, Denise LaSalle and Johnnie Taylor and had the opportunity to write for some of the best as well.

A graduate of New Albany’s B.F. Ford School in 1964, Mosley has received two gold records for songwriting and producing, one gold record from his work with Johnny Taylor and two from his work with ZZ Hill. 

However, Mosley’s love for education has not been lost to time and since his retirement from the furniture industry, he has made time to educate the youth of Union County and the hills country of Mississippi about the blues, racial reconciliation and civil rights in Mississippi.

Mosley is married to the former Margaret Ezell and has five children and many grandchildren. 

He is a member of Beaver Dam Baptist Church and his wife is a member of Watson Grove Baptist Church. 

He spends a lot of time with his grandchildren, educates today’s youth and plays as often as possible.

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NE_AHOF_SamMosley_2016Performance
Northeast Mississippi Community College alumni Sam Mosley performs in front of a standing-room only crowd in the Claude Wright Room of the Haney Union in 2016 as part of his “Northeast Learns the Blues with Sam Mosley,” concert. Approximately 425 Northeast employees, students and community members attended the concert. Mosley was named to the 2019 Alumni Hall of Fame class at Northeast and will be inducted into the hall of fame on Thursday, September 19 at 4:30 p.m. in the Claude Wright Room of the Haney Union on the college’s Booneville campus.
NE_AHOF_SamMosley_2016
Northeast Mississippi Community College alumni Sam Mosley (center) performs with Northeast students and members of the college’s music department in front of a standing-room only crowd in the Claude Wright Room of the Haney Union in 2016 as part of his “Northeast Learns the Blues with Sam Mosley,” concert. Approximately 425 Northeast employees, students and community members attended the concert. Mosley was named to the 2019 Alumni Hall of Fame class at Northeast and will be inducted into the hall of fame on Thursday, September 19 at 4:30 p.m. in the Claude Wright Room of the Haney Union on the college’s Booneville campus.
NE_AHOF_SamMosley_2015
Northeast Mississippi Community College alumni Sam Mosley (center) stops for a photo with former Northeast football coach and athletic director the late William B. “Bill” Ward (left) and former Northeast division head of social, behavioral and applied sciences Carla Falkner (right). Ward recruited Mosley to Northeast after he finished his stint in the United States Army and the New Albany native did not let his former coach down by hauling in a touchdown pass on a play called “190 Sideline and Go,” to help Northeast beat Southwest Mississippi 33-20 on September 7, 1968. Mosley was named to the 2019 Alumni Hall of Fame class at Northeast and will be inducted into the hall of fame on Thursday, September 19 at 4:30 p.m. in the Claude Wright Room of the Haney Union on the college’s Booneville campus.



Source: TigerWire

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Written by Michael H Miller

mhmiller@nemcc.edu

Michael H Miller is the Public Information Specialist at Northeast Mississippi Community College.

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