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Watch the Sam I Am Variations online guitar lesson by David Hamburger from Blues Alchemy: Post-War

It’s easy to look at the musicians of the past and think, “well, I guess I'll keep practicing, but without a cool, destiny-implying handle like 'Lightnin’', it doesn't really seem like blues greatness is in the cards for me.” And yet, Samuel Hopkins had made two stabs at a career in Houston, with a stint in prison in between, before he found himself on the West coast in the 1940's, about to record for Aladdin Records with pianist William Smith. At that point, an Aladdin exec decided “Lightnin’” Hopkins and “Thunder” Smith - Thunder and Lightning, get it? - had a lot more pizazz than “Sam and Bill.” So - ok, I guess having a cool name does make a difference…