Sam Moore, part of the legendary `60s soul duo Sam & Dave, doesn't mind singing classic tunes.
In fact, his new album, "Overnight Sensational" _ an all-star collaboration featuring Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Mariah Carey and Jon Bon Jovi among others _ is filled with them, from "You Are So Beautiful" to "I Can't Stand the Rain."
But covering his own seminal hits? Songs like "Soul Man" and "Hold On, I'm Coming"? As much as they are a cornerstone of pop history, Moore is done with reliving the past.
Perhaps that's because he was stuck in a musical version of "Groundhog Day" for the last few decades. Unable to come up with songs as popular as his greatest hits, Moore often found himself at shows and on albums singing the same songs that first gained him fame _ he even re-teamed with Dave Prater in the `70s after their initial split in the '60s (Prater was killed in a car crash in 1988).
A drug habit, which Moore kicked in 1981, also made entertainment executives leery of giving him a fresh start.
But Moore began to rebound over the last few years. Sam & Dave were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. And in 2002 a documentary film, "Only the Strong Survive," showed the vitality of Moore and other soul greats. He began talking to labels about doing a new album.
At age 70, "Overnight Sensational," on Rhino Records, is Moore's fresh start.
AP: Were you really looking to do another album?
Moore: We were having so many problems trying to get a record deal, so when I thought that I had one, with another record company, and we went into talk, the first thing came about was to do classic Sam & Dave. And my thing was, no, I don't want to do that, so they sort of got possessive about it, and I got stubborn,and I just stood my ground and I said, no, I'm not going to do it, and they came back and said, well, you know, "I think we're going to have to take a pass on you." (At Rhino) ... They were the first ones who said, "No, we wouldn't want you do to that."
AP: Why were you so resistant to do Sam & Dave stuff, and what did you want to do?
Moore: I've done that. I had been there, done that, and I wasn't interested in doing that. Come on, 20, 30 years of doing that stuff? I even did the Sam & Dave classics back in the `70s ... so to tell you the truth _ enough. I wanted to spread my wings.
AP: Was it hard getting work?
Moore: I wanted to work, but when you've been on that bad motor scooter for 15 years, the word, and when people see you, and even when you are with your former partner, they know what's going on with your life and your career, because it's played out on stage. Sometimes he would show up, I wouldn't show up. Sometimes I would show up, he wouldn't show up. Sometimes we would both show up and sometimes we'd be doing a show and I'd be standing there, I'd have to throw up because I'd need drugs to put in my body _ it was just crazy. It was not that I didn't want to work; it was that the doors started closing around me. I was trying my level best to get something going. And I was clean. But it's kind of hard that when you fooled and told lies to people many times that, "Oh my life is going to be OK, I'm not going to mess with drugs," and then when they look around, you are messing with that stuff again. So that was kind of rough.
AP: So what did you have to do to survive?
Moore: I did a lot of cruise ships, I did a lot of oldies shows. At one time I did a show and I opened for Elvises _ wannabe Elvis (impersonators). That's funny to think back to it now. And I did a lot of shows where if I did a show with an oldie show, I had to actually audition. But you know what? You keep your mouth shut and you get up there and you sing as hard and perform as hard as you can, and get the little money and go on about your business and try and pay those bills. I'm laughing about it now, but at that time, man, it was really serious. But that's what I did, and I took a lot of jobs that I wouldn't have probably taken if I hadn't had the problem or had been successful enough to have the funds to step back and say, well no, I'm not going to do that.
AP: What made you give up drugs?
Moore: I did it because I wanted to get my life in order. I knew I had a gift. So why screw this temple up with all the stuff.
AP: What are some performances that you did then that you wouldn't do now?
Moore: Oldies shows _ it's not too respectful of Rhythm & Blues or soul or whatever. There is a clique in that era that they stay with ... anything beyond that that's invited to perform on that bill, you're not treated too well, so I don't think I would do that. Ships _ if they pay me well enough!
AP: Of all the songs on the disc, is there one that means more to you than the others?
Moore: The one I did for (recently deceased) Billy (Preston, "You Are So Beautiful to Me"). Because I made him a promise, because he was here in Arizona, and he was in a coma, but ... I made him a promise out of all of the years of singing with him, at his bedside many times, I said, "You know you've never been honored, you've never been respected, you've been used." And I said, "I don't know, but I feel as if somebody should honor you, somebody should pay tribute to you."