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Sam's passing rekindles rock' n' roll memories

In early 1959, Amato met Fetterly who was a star baseball pitcher at Liverpool High.

"I had a constant problem trying to talk him into coming to [band] practice," Amato remembered. "Jan probably did have a future in baseball, but I convinced him music was the answer. That's really where it all started."

The Dutchman's recalled

Sam & The Twisters played all of CNY's top nightspots, including the Red Dog Saloon, Hewitt's, The Brookside, the Holiday Bowl and the Fayetteville Inn. The rockin' quartet drew fans to Liverpool-area dance halls like The Dutchman's on the Seneca River under the Route 370 bridge, Three Rivers Inn and Dandy Dan's Teen Canteen.

The Twisters once backed up Gary "U.S." Bonds-whose single "Quarter to Three" was a No. 1 hit in 1961-for an entire week at the 320 Club on old Liverpool Road.

While he loved playing those innovative electric guitar licks, Sam also loved driving souped-up cars and motorcycles. He once owned a 1963 split-window Corvette coupe and a Ford AC Cobra, recalled Al Wolf. "Sam took me for a ride in the Cobra on the old Towpath Road to a gig we had at the Brookside...At 120 miles per hour, it didn't take long to arrive."

Amato's favorite motorcycle was his Triumph. "Unfortunately he dumped it on Route 81," Wolf said. "With great luck and his protective gear, he escaped with just some scratches."

In 1968, Amato moved to Florida, but he returned here to play with the Twisters at Damon's Restaurant in Cicero on Feb. 2, 2003, after he'd been diagnosed with throat cancer.

"Sam was a pioneer and a real inspiration to lots of [rock] musicians early on," said Chuck Wheeler, a former member of The Seven. "I'll always remember what an influence he had on me and hundreds of other guys in Central New York."

Sam & The Twisters were inducted into the Syracuse Area Music Awards Hall of Fame in 1994.

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