It is with great regret that I have just learned of the death of Soul man Sam Mahood - a legend of the Irish shownband era – who sadly passed away on Sunday, December 23.
Sam was a well known character around Belfast and, like fellow musician Rory Gallagher, he always had time to stop and talk to fans. In his orange cordauroy jacket, blue cordauroy trousers, knee high boots and with his long curly hair people would joke that he looked like King Billy. Sam gave the impression of being a quiet and gentle man but when he started singing he could belt it out with great energy. He disappeared off the scene for a few years and a number of rumours flew about as to where he had gone to but he eventually made a come-back and the power of his singing had in no way diminished. He will be sadly missed on the local music scene.
Back in the day of the Belfast Beat (Maritime Blues) scene, Sam Mahood played with Just Five and later toured with the Big Soul Band [who made the Commitments look like Val Doonican - ed].
Just Five were a powerhouse R & B act and one of Belfast's hottest acts. The band was founded by pork butcher Sam Mahood (born in 1946, in Banbridge on the River Bann, Co Down, Northern Ireland), who had long wild red hair, staring eyes, and a voice steeped in gospel, who lived in University Street with John Cox, brother of Mick Cox later of Eire Apparent. Promising guitar player John Cox nearly joined The Just Five. The band included Frank Connolly vocals; Billy McCoy guitar and Mervyn Crawford guitar. Just Five played the Maritime Hotel and also played a Friday night dance at the Annadale Boat Club. Their repertoire featured blues classics and the latest Rolling Stones songs like 'Paint It, Black' and as a tribute to Them they regularly included a version of 'Baby Please Don't Go'. Among their rivals were up-and-coming group the Few, a quintet of hip schoolboys. Just Five appeared on a package recording released as 'Ireland's Greatest Sounds - Five Top Groups From Belfast's Maritime Club' on Emerald Records established by Mervyn Soloman.
As a mark of respect, respected Ulster blues band The Lee Hedley Band is organising a farewell concert to Mahood on Sunday, January 27 in the Kings Head, Belfast, with the help of a few key people in the showbiz scene. The show will run from lunchtime on Sunday, January 27 until 8-9pm. More Lee Hedley Band