There were waves in May 1987, good waves with classic winter conditions accompanying the big cold fronts that were hammering the South African coast and bringing majestic swells towards Jeffreys Bay.
A blue kombi stopped outside the old First National Bank agency in J’Bay and Kevin Jooste, the guy I was working with suddenly exclaimed, “Hey, Sam is back in back” and rushed outside to greet him.
I had just arrived in Jeffreys Bay and was introduced to a burly guy with long hair and a flowing beard and his beautiful red headed girlfriend Dawnsy. They had just returned to J’Bay from a trip to the Transkei. “See you tonight at the Savoy and can you oke’s help push start the kombi?” said Sam as the rain pelted down in the strong south west wind.
This was my introduction to J’Bay with its perfect waves and community based lifestyle at a time when the town was at its best. With Sam the Jam back to entertain the locals with his brand of surf music and covers from the likes of Jethro Tull, Bob Marley, Cat Stevens and Peter Tosh, things were about to get even better.
Sadly the news that Sam died on Tuesday from complications related to a diabetic condition filtered along the coast during the week. He spent the last week of his life in Cape Town with his sister Sally-Ann Creed who took care of him.
Sam had settled in Jeffreys Bay in 1986 after spending many years coming up from Cape Town to surf, which together with music and fishing were his passions in life.
Who can forget the 47 kg cob that Sam caught in the Gamtoos River with Sam proclaiming he caught the fish with a chicken bone because he didn’t want other fisherman using squid to fish the river?
Or the Mark Anthony joke that used to take up to an hour to reach the punch line with many calls for more beer to the barman in-between.
Sam encapsulated an era in Jeffreys Bay that was probably one of the finest in the history of the town.
It was a time when surfing came first and work came to a standstill when the waves rocked down the point. It was a time when we all knew each other and we didn’t lock our houses day or night. It was also a time when the locals congregated on a Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights at the Savoy Hotel and Sam always got the party going.
The bars used to close at 11 pm in those days and depending on the mood, Sam would often just keep jamming past closing time, especially when good mates Eric Naude, Tony Den Hoed, Doc Van and Peter Olsen were jamming alongside in the old bar at the Savoy. The only thing that would stop him is if he ran out of guitar strings.
Sam had a dream to sail to the Caribbean and bought an old yacht from Neville Hulet called Nkwazi. “Sam, who was a carpenter by trade, used to spend hours working in the shell of the yacht”, recalled Dawnsy with a smile. “I always used to say that I will fly and meet him in the Caribbean while he sailed across the Atlantic!”
Sam moved out of J’ Bay in the mid 1990’s after the town started to develop and spent much of the past 15 years in Seal Point and still played music for his appreciative fans along the coast.
He is survived by his beloved daughter Jasmin and will be sadly missed by family and friends. J’Bay without you playing at the Savoy was a different place ever since those days……Sam RIP……
A paddle out and scattering of Sam’s ashes is being planned for 2 Pm on Monday afternoon at Point in Jeffreys Bay. Dawnsy can be contacted on 082 890 7940 for more information.