Sammy Strain Double RRHOF Inductee – O’Jays/Imperials+ Black Music History Interview

Sammy Strain is the most famous person that you have never heard of. He was a longtime member of both Little Anthony & the Imperials, during the 1950’s & 1960’s and The O’Jays from the 1970’s to the mid 1990’s. This page features the story of how he became a member of the O’Jays (as told by our friend Billy Griffin of the Miracles) and Sammy’s description of the evolution of Black music, during a 1.5 hr interview that we conducted with him.

Sammy Strain is the most famous person that you have never heard of. He was a longtime member of both Little Anthony & the Imperials, during the 1950’s & 1960’s and The O’Jays from the 1970’s to the mid 1990’s. Then he finished up his career by rejoining Little Anthony & the Imperials again from the mid 1990’s thru the mid 2000’s.

He is one of just a handful of artists who has been inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame TWICE.

With a career that stretches from the 1950’s thru the mid 2000’s he is also in unique position to tell the story of just how Black Music evolved both as a cultural movement and as a business. This page features the story of how he became a member of the O’Jays (as told by our friend Billy Griffin of the Miracles) and Sammy’s description of the evolution of Black music, during a 1.5 hr interview that we conducted with him, when he was inducted into the RRHOF as a member of the O’Jays.

Sammy Strain (w/Ojays, second from the left)

Sammy Strain – Interview

(“Black Music History Lesson: 1950 – 2000”)

Sammy Strain – Interview (“Black Music History Lesson: 1950 – 2000”)

Part 1 Sammy’s Career – Starting Brooklyn with the Fantasticks & Bluechips, Moving over to Little Anthony & the Imperials, Big hits & working Nightclubs with Little Anthony, Going into the Restaurant business, Moving over to the O’Jays and replacing William Powell in the 1970’s.

Part 2 Evolution of Music Business for Black Artists (1950’s 1970’s) – Venues change, Radio exposure changed, British Artists & Motown Artists changed the landscape, Black music exploded, Fake white artists faded away as audiences demanded the real deal, resulting in more money for Black artists.

Part 3 Other Artists – Justin Timberlake, Usher, Snoop Dogg, Smokey Robinson, Barry White, Nat King Cole, Lenny Kravitz, Prince, Sam Cooke, Luther, Peabo, etc.

Part 4 Why Is The Marketplace Still Segregated? Multiple Genres (R&B, Pop, Hip Hop, Jazz, Urban, etc.) means more money, artists can now financially diversify.

Part 5 Shout Outs – Fantasticks & Bluechips, Eddie & Walter from the Ojays, Little Anthony & the Imperials, Gamble & Huff, Cholly Atkins, Richard Barrett, Yvonne Fair, Jimmy Castor.

Part 6 Supergroup – More Details about the Ojays, Touring/Recording, Philly International, Bunny Sigler, Mcfadden & Whitehead, Teddy P, Archie Bell, Ebonys, Billy Paul, etc.

Happy Birthday Sammy Strain,

By Billy Griffin

Happy Birthday to my longtime friend…SAMMY STRAIN.

An American R&B singer. Best known as a member of, “Little Anthony and the Imperials” & “The O’Jays” (1976- 1992).
Sammy Strain left The Imperials for a different life, in 1972. He bought a restaurant in Los Angeles and chose not to sing professionally for three years; at the end of that period, he was briefly a member of The Fandangos with Lonnie Cook and Alvin Walker.
In 1974, he auditioned for the lead voice of Arpeggio. Sammy had been replaced by Harold Jenkins as a member of The Imperials.

Flash forward in time to 1975, Strain married to Yvonne Fair (an actress and a Motown recording artist) was very close friends with Billy Griffin of The Miracles.
After hearing from the Ojay’s, William Powell’s sudden cancer affliction would cause his exit from the group…
Billy Griffin introduced Sammy to Walter Williams of The Ojays as a candidate to replace Powell’s 1st tenor voice in the trio.
As expected, Sammy got the job and sang with The Ojays from 1976-1992.

Sammy Strain is one of the few artists in popular music history who is a double Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, having been inducted with The O’Jays in 2005 and the Imperials in 2009.
Sammy Strain continued touring as a member of “Little Anthony and the Imperials”, until Strain retired in 2004.

Part 1 Sammy’s Career – Starting Brooklyn with the Fantasticks & Bluechips, Moving over to Little Anthony & the Imperials, Big hits & working Nightclubs with Little Anthony, Going into the Restaurant business, Moving over to the O’Jays and replacing William Powell in the 1970’s.

Part 2 Evolution of Music Business for Black Artists (1950’s 1970’s) – Venues change, Radio exposure changed, British Artists & Motown Artists changed the landscape, Black music exploded, Fake white artists faded away as audiences demanded the real deal, resulting in more money for Black artists.

Part 3 Other Artists – Justin Timberlake, Usher, Snoop Dogg, Smokey Robinson, Barry White, Nat King Cole, Lenny Kravitz, Prince, Sam Cooke, Luther, Peabo, etc.

Part 4 Why Is The Marketplace Still Segregated? Multiple Genres (R&B, Pop, Hip Hop, Jazz, Urban, etc.) means more money, artists can now financially diversify.

Part 5 Shout Outs – Fantasticks & Bluechips, Eddie & Walter from the Ojays, Little Anthony & the Imperials, Gamble & Huff, Cholly Atkins, Richard Barrett, Yvonne Fair, Jimmy Castor.

Part 6 Supergroup – More Details about the Ojays, Touring/Recording, Philly International, Bunny Sigler, Mcfadden & Whitehead, Teddy P, Archie Bell, Ebonys, Billy Paul, etc.

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