It was just announced on Mr. Magee's Facebook page that he "...passed away peacefully last night." No other details. This is tremendously sad news. As a musician, I think he was without peer, and I cannot think of anyone I've heard who has done the one-man-band street musician project as brilliantly or resourcefully as he had done. As part of Satan and Adam, his guitar work was rhythmic and forceful, and the time he kept on his customized drum set up (with cymbals!) unfailingly created grooves and moods and such that complimented his gruff, splintery, exclamatory singing. I came across Satan and Adam from a track played on the Sunday blues show on KSDT FM in San Diego, from their first album Harlem Blues in 1991, and followed them ever since that time. I read Adam's book Mr. Satan's Apprentice sometime later and was taken with the camaraderie , and how they managed such a brilliant partnership. Of course, it was my introduction to Adam's harmonica work as well. Sterling Magee was unique, beautifully so, a transcendent man who spoke the language of the heart and soul, joy, pain, grief, exaltation. My deepest condolences to Mr.Magee's family and especially to Adam. ---------- www.ted-burke.com
Last Edited by ted burke on Sep 07, 2020 12:51 PM
They tell me that Sterling Magee (b. 5/20/36) has finally succumbed, peacefully, to COVID-19 at the age of 84.
I have no reason to doubt that. But I do know one thing: Mr. Satan will never die.
He told me that himself, many times. When I'd say, "Everybody dies. Heck, I'M going to die," he'd stare at me, hard, and bark, "You said that!" As though it were a foolish thing to say. A comforting fiction.
"You'll live through it," was one of his favorite sayings. He said it every time I complained about a former girlfriend or whined about a cold sore. It took me a while to connect the saying with the fact that he'd grown up in Jim Crow Mississippi in the 1940s and that living through it--and that--was an assertion of indomitability in the face of unfavorable odds. It was his personal blues ethos, drawn from a far deeper well of experience than I'd managed to accumulate by that point in my life. He never held my relative naivete´against me. He just shared what he knew, and schooled me.
And he was right. I lived through it. Every single time.
A younger man is truly lucky to have an older man like that in his life. He toughened me up. His gifts were legion and can't easily be summarized. He could be harsh. But he always sought to pull people out into the light, as he saw it, and back into the circle of community. He was a gentleman in that way, with a kind word and a verbal tip of the hat to everybody he encountered. "Thank you, ma'am, for that beautiful smile," he'd say.
He was a great man.
And then, of course, there was, and is, his music. When I put on certain recordings, like "Listen to the Music," and get that delighted-little-kid look in my eyes, my wife knows what I'm thinking. What I know.