Satan and Adam Sterling Magee and the One Man Band
One Man Band! This circa 1890 enterprising inventor in the top three photographs could do it all...and presumably without electricity! I can't tell if his fly is down, but he is certainly playing with everything else. What a contraption. Other famous one man bands you may or may not know? Dave Grohl, who did the entire first album by Foo Fighters, Sir Paul, who did it without the other moptops, and MY personal favorite Jesse Fuller, a blues man who played the "footdella" for the bass while busking on street corners. Fate Norris of the Skillet Lickers did the same but added bells.
I used to see Sterling Magee play on 125th Street in Harlem. No, not the Apollo...the STREET. Mr. Magee, also known as Satan from "Satan and Adam" a salt and pepper blues duo, had a regular gig worth taking the A-train for. Satan was once called "The Fastest Guitar Player in the World" and he might have been, but his amp was so cheap it all came out like one glorious distorted note. He used a foot operated drum and cymbal thing while plugged into a lamppost near the Studio Museum of Harlem.
Satan also made art, and I spent a day in his apartment while he showed me his trippy, cosmic, Sun Ra holograms made out of plywood and such. Sorta like primitive Rubic's cube toys but shaped like stars and each with their own particular logic only Mr. Satan could interpret. I went with a friend, he later told me that was the longest afternoon in his life. I wasn't surprised to learn he had a nervous breakdown not long after, but what DID surprise me was the extent of his Wikipedia entry! He never told me he played with a transvestite duo known as "The Illusions That Create Confusion" but he did mention James Brown and King Curtis, both which were true. He also made a few early singles and with Adam, a few LP records but they gave him a better amplifier. Too bad. He sounded great with the one he carried on a modified shopping cart. I don't think this fellow had as much soul, but I'd have taken the subway up to see him play too.
Group of Frank Wendt Cabinet Card photographs collection Jim Linderman