This series celebrates Morecambe’s Finest, the personalities and unsung heroes who make our town great. This week GREG LAMBERT meets SAM KING, the town’s ‘one-woman band’.
“I was going out with this guy in a band and one night, the drummer didn’t show up.
“I stepped in and played ‘Gimme All Your Lovin’ by ZZ Top. People were amazed how well I could do it.”
Up until then, Sam had been bullied at school.
Born to English parents in Derry, Northern Ireland, the family emigrated to Ontario, Canada when Sam was just two years old.
In her early teens, they had just moved to Prince Edward Island, a province just off the Canadian coast. Sam was finding it hard to adjust.
“It was incredibly tough,” she recalls.
“I’d come from a small town where there was more of a rock culture, long hair, heavy metal. But on the island there were a lot of farmer chicks who hated me right away. They’d pin me up against the lockers at school and challenge me to fights. It was so scary.
“But overnight, I became this cool drummer chick and the bullying stopped.”
Within two years, Sam was the drummer in a professional band.
At 22, she was in a 12-piece rock ‘n’ roll group and on the verge of being signed to a record label.
“But they only wanted the singer. I threw an almighty strop and decided to move to England, where my parents were from.”
After settling in Manchester, she met Morecambe musician Rick Middleton.
“We met on an internet dating site,” she laughs.
“He wrote to me and I wrote back to him. If he wanted to see my response, he had to pay £60, and he did!
“I was impressed right away. We hit it off. We have a lot in common. He has a son and I have two kids.”
Now married, Sam and Rick live on Clarendon Road, in one of the classic old West End houses.
“I’ve grown to really love it here, the people are so friendly,” she says.
“Whenever I come come across people slagging off Morecambe and the West End, I say you have to see what it has to offer. Yes there’s rubbish, unkept houses and people who walk around in onesies. I’m totally aware of the crime and the down-and-outness of it. But I’ve lived in all sorts of places all over the world, from small towns to big cities. And it’s always what you make it.”
Sam works freelance for More Music, the town’s community music organisation, where she runs drumming workshops for youngsters who want to follow in her footsteps.
“I totally relate to the kids,” she smiles.
“Growing up in a small town, with aggression all around me, it helped me to have something to do. Music kept me out of a lot of trouble.
“I love giving young people a sense of achievement and igniting that spark in them.”
Sam, 45, also drums in local bands, working alongside some of the area’s top musicians including Ben McCabe, Howard Haigh and ‘Boogie’ Bill Roberts.
She’s also having great fun with a new solo project, inspired by More Music’s artistic director and one man band, Pete Moser.
“Pete asked me to do something for his One Man Band festival in Morecambe.
“I was totally hooked from that day onwards. All the honking and beeping and silly noises just had me laughing all day long.
“It was so great to feel like a kid again, and I loved the reaction of the the public too.”
So now, with a tambourine on her foot, guitar over her shoulder, drum on her back, and kazoo and harmonica, the ‘One Sam Band’ is for hire.
She will play at the upcoming Viva Morecambe weekend and her enthusiasm for her new love is infectious.
“Wherever a bit bit of cheer is required, the One Sam Band wants to be there,” she laughs.
“I play 10 instruments at once to a variety of covers and well known ditties.
“And I’m also learning Eric Morecambe’s ‘Bring Me Sunshine’. It would be criminal not to!”