RIP Marty Sammon: Death of pianist at 45 rocks Chicago blues community

Eve Edwards

Chicago’s beloved blues pianist Marty Sammon has passed away unexpectedly at the age of 45, his sudden death happening just one day after he celebrated his birthday.

Sammon was best known for providing the keys for Phil Guy and Otis Rush, and more recently, Phil’s older brother and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Buddy Guy.

As news of his death is confirmed, we revisit some of Marty Sammon’s career highlights. Let’s take a look back over Sammon’s four decade-long career.

Buddy Guy In Concert - New York City
Photo by Debra L Rothenberg/Getty Images

Marty Sammon’s death rocks the blues community

On Sunday, October 16, 2022, it was confirmed that Marty Sammon had suddenly passed away at the age of 45. He passed away a day prior, on October 15.

Sammon was allegedly performing and then celebrating his birthday in New Orleans, where he is thought to have passed.

As of yet, no cause of death has been revealed.

The Watcher | Official Trailer | Netflix

The Watcher | Official Trailer | Netflix

About Marty Sammon’s piano career

Marty Sammon was born on October 14, 1977 and raised on the South Side of Chicago. With evident talent from a young age, Sammon was recruited to perform with L.V. Banks when he was just 15 years old. At this point, Sammon had fully embraced the Chicago Blues scene, which he would go on to star in as a prominent player.

After establishing himself in the scene, Sammon was recruited by a number of blues players to join as their pianist. Some of the key players Sammon worked with throughout his career were Phil and Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram.

Sammon was also the band leader for Marty Sammon Band and turned his skill for the piano into a teaching guide, publishing the Blues Keyboard Method in 2015. It featured a foreword by Chuck Leavell of The Rolling Stones and the Allman Brothers Band.

Marty’s career highlights involved hugging Michelle Obama

While Marty Sammon had many career highlights from Grammy Award wins to publishing his own book, in his eyes, his career highlight came in recent years.

In an interview with Blues Blast Magazine back in 2016, Sammon revealed that his career highlight was “hugging Michelle Obama.”

This encounter with the former First Lady came when Buddy Guy, Tom Hambridge, and Marty Sammon played at the White House in October 2015. They performed there as part of the celebration for the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

“There were so many good musicians there. I got to watch James Taylor do a rehearsal and him and Keb Mo played together so well,” Sammon told Blues Blast Magazine. “Just seeing the professionalism of the musicians there was amazing. When you put together musicians that have never played together before … I had never played with the band that we had there; to see that level of playing and to be involved in that, I was honored. And of course, to be at the White House with the leader of the free world, that was pretty exciting, too.”

Tributes to the late pianist takeover Twitter

In light of his sudden passing, a number of friends and colleagues working in the Chicago music scene took to the internet to pay tribute to Sammon.

Chicago’s home of jazz and blues, WDCB Public Radio, tweeted from their official Twitter account: “We are heartbroken to learn of the passing of Chicago blues pianist Marty Sammon, an incredible musician and great friend of the radio station.”

One friend tweeted: “You’ll forever be one of the greatest Blues artists from Chicago. You made it kid and you’ll never be forgotten!”

Our thoughts are with Marty Sammon’s family and friends during this difficult time.

Buddy Guy in Concert
Photo by Mauricio Santana/Getty Images