Monday, July 27, 2020

Satan and Adam (film)

Sterling Magee in the 80's was a street musician/one-man-band who had previously played for the likes of James Brown, Big Maybelle, King Curtis, Joey Dee and the Starliters, among others, as well as a solo career on Ray Charles' Tangerine label in the early 60's. After the unexpected loss of the love of his life, he forsook his previous career, gave up the guitar, but then had his own personal religious conversion and became Mr. Satan and began playing on the streets of Harlem for a living. A young white Adam Gussow wandered down the street from the Apollo and happened upon Mr. Satan, asked to sit in on harmonica, and ended up playing with the man for years.

Oddly, when U2 were filming their movie Rattle and Hum, they stumbled upon the duo, filmed them and put them on their soundtrack album! Needless to say, this expanded their audience considerably. From there they recorded, played a huge gig opening for Buddy Guy, got a regular club gig, then got management and started touring!

While talented, Mr. Satan was clearly mentally unbalanced, as was his wife, who would tour with them, which, naturally, caused considerable strife for Adam. Eventually, Mr. Satan had a breakdown, quit the business (again) and ended up in an adult care facility where his physical decline meant that he could no longer play guitar. Adam went on to become a college professor and author, got married and settled down.

But, you can never say never, and although he was not the same physically as he once had been, Sterling was eventually able to play guitar again and started doing occasional gigs in town (with the help of another resident's harmonica-playing son) which led to a reunion with Adam for gigs and even a reunion record! At 80, Mr. Satan apparently retired but who knows what the future might bring!

This is a fun documentary with amazing footage of NYC in the 80's. Definitely worth your time!