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SAMO is born, SAMO is dead

In 1977 Jean-Michel and his friend Al Diaz create a fictional character named SAMO who makes a living selling a fake religion. In a 1978 interview with the Village Voice his first newspaper interview he explained that SAMO (Same old shit) started as a personal joke he and Diaz created one night while smoking some weed. They published the idea in the school newspaper that focused on philosophy and alternative religions. The essay featured a short story and a description of the religion as; …we do all we want here on earth and then rely totally on the mercy of god on the pretense that we didn't know….. we attend service where the Samoid priest places a piece of yarn on our eyes… There was also a logo, an illustrated series of comic-book-style endorsements of the religion and a slogan which read, "SAMO is all, all is SAMO….SAMO the guilt-free religion…and beyond

In May 1978 Basquiat and Diaz began writing SAMO sayings all over SoHo and Tri-BeCa. At the same time Keith Haring was covering the same areas with " Radiant Babies". They soon became a common occurrence and a fixture downtown. Soon people were beginning to take notice of the sayings and wanted to find out who SAMO was. The SoHo news ran an ad in their paper like a wanted posted trying to identify the writer. Instead, Basquiat and Diaz sold their story for $100 to the Village Voice. Shortly after the Village Voice article, Basquiat and Diaz have a falling out over the SAMO sayings. Diaz explains; " Jean-Michel saw SAMO as a vehicle, the graffiti was an advertisement for himself….all of a sudden he just started taking it over" Jean-Michel was very strategic in where he placed the SAMO sayings, SoHo, the East Village and even at some art openings knowing that the streets in those areas were traveled by influential people. After the disagreement between Basquiat and Diaz SAMO ends and SAMO is Dead begins appearing along the streets.

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