THE country musician Arthur Smith has passed away at the age of 93.
Mr. Smith was an immensely talented musician who had mastered a number of instruments, but he will be particularly remembered for his nimble-fingered playing of the banjo and guitar.
His instrumental recording Guitar Boogie (see below) became a hit in 1945 while he was 24-year-old serving in the U.S. Navy.
Born in South Carolina, the young Smith was initially taught music by his father who played in a band. By 14 he was presenting a show on his local radio station and a year later he cut his first record. His musical influences included gospel and jazz.
After his success with Guitar Boogie, Mr. Smith went on to write Feuding Banjos. The instrumental duet with Don Reno (see below) came out in 1955 and proved popular. The piece was to end up at the centre of a legal action taken by Mr. Smith in 1973.
A year earlier, a version of Mr. Smith’s composition had been used in the famous ‘dueling banjos’ sequence in the film Deliverance, which starred Burt Reynolds and John Voight.
Mr. Smith had not been credited as the writer of the piece. After a recording of it became a chart hit he called in the lawyers and an action was taken against Warner Brothers. He won the case and recouped all royalties.
Over his long career, Mr. Smith either wrote or collaborated on hundreds of songs. He ran his own recording studio for many years in Charlotte, North Carolina, and was also the host of a popular syndicated country music TV show which was broadcast weekly between 1951 to 1982.
To see footage of Mr. Smith performing Guitar Boogie, click here.
To listen to an excerpt from Feuding Banjos, click here.
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