Just keep on rollin like a wheel
If the organ was a guitar Sammy Avila would be Jimmy Page. Anybody can play an organ, but few can ROCK an organ. Enjoy.
Los Angeles native Sam (Sammy) Avila has earned a reputation as one of the blues renowned organ players. His ability to key gritty, rock and roll tones out of the organ while simultaneously charming the signature, electrified harmonics from within the Hammond B3 has earned him titles such as “Slammin Sam” and more popularly, “Hammond Sam.” Sammy Avila has made his mark in the world of blues, playing alongside many of the genre’s biggest names, including Mick Taylor (Rolling Stones), Dr. John, Philip Sayce (Melissa Ethridge) and Chris Cain. As the current keys player for Walter Trout (John Mayall, Canned Heat) Sammy and band-mates have shared the stage with blues and rock legends such as Los Lobos, B.B. King and Derek Trucks.
Born June 21st, 1951 in sunny Southern California, the musical influences began early in Avila’s life at home with his parents who both played guitar and sang. At very young ages Sammy and his brother John Avila (Oingo Boingo) were heavily influenced by their parents’ music and natural talent. Growing up and going through school Sammy Avila fulfilled his need to play music by joining bands and participating in short tours and competitions. In 1970, he was drafted into the army for one year, managing to incorporate music by renting instruments and jamming with fellow musicians. Upon returning home he continued as an active musician joining several bands throughout the years some playing heavy-loaded rock and roll (Moonshine, Raven) and others covering the top 40 songs of the ’70s (Kicks, Risque). He found himself jamming regularly with local household names such as Tracy G (Dio), Joey Delgado, Nick Louis, Sammy Sanchez and his brother John.
Jamming into the ’90s, Hammond Sam began playing some of Hollywood’s popular music venues, such as The Roxy and The Troubadour, with his brother in a post-Oingo Boingo band, The All Stars (also featuring Johnny Vatos on drums and Carlos de La Paz on guitar). Sammy played keys on the popular ’90s punk-ska band Reel Big Fish‘s debut album. During the summer of 2001, after an invitation and a jam at a club in Huntington Beach with Walter Trout, Sammy Avila was asked to join the band! Sammy found out the good news by way of voicemail. Sammy Avila has recorded several albums with Walter and set out on numerous world tours, creating a consistent international following, especially throughout North America and Europe.
The rig—throughout the 1980’s, Sammy Avila’s rig consisted of a Wurlitzer A200, then a Fender Rhodes 73, a Clavinet Hohner D6 on top and a Mini Moog at his side. While first touring with Walter, the band carried around a B3 Hammond organ and an XK3. Now, Sammy travels with a Hammond Sk1-73 that is run through a modified pre-amped Leslie speaker (122 model) and is provided with a Hammond organ at many of the festivals throughout the country and Europe.
When the Walter Trout band is not on the road or recording, Sammy is playing throughout the greater Los Angeles area with family-based band, AVILA, which features his brother John Avila on bass/vocals, son Andee Avila on drums/vocals, son Danny Avila on guitar/vocals, himself on the B3/vocals and family friend Ray Solis on percussion.
With years music performance under his belt, the momentum of Sammy Avila’s musical career is unstoppable, and traveling along at speeds of a freight train. As for the long run Sammy Avila plans to "just keep on rollin’ like a wheel."
By Monique Evelyn