Bennie Smith

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Bennie Smith (October 5, 1933, St. Louis, Missouri - September 10, 2006, St. Louis, Missouri) was a St. Louis blues guitarist, considered to be one of the city's ([1]) patriarchs of electric blues.

His sound was emblematic of a St. Louis blues music that he helped define in over half a century practicing his trade. His contributions to the genre in that city, from the early 1950s and almost until the day of his death, included mentor, performer, and recording artist.

Due to his significant contribution to blues music in St. Louis, in October 2003 he received a proclamation from mayor Francis Slay marking October 5, 2003 as 'Bennie Smith Day' in that city. The board of alderman similarly honored Mr. Smith, recognizing him as the "Dean of St. Louis Electric Guitarists". [2] During the 2006 'Big Muddy Blues Festival' in St. Louis, Mayor Slay honored Bennie once again on September 2 of that year, declaring that day also be known as 'Bennie Smith Day' in St. Louis.

Bennie Smith October 2004

Career[edit]

Smith worked as a session man on many recordings over the years, and has three original albums to his name: The Urban Soul of Bennie Smith (Blues Highway - 1993), Shook Up (Fedora Records - 2001)), and The Bennie Smith All Star Session (2006). In a notable 1958 session, Smith was invited to contribute on what would be Tina Turner's first recording, "Boxtop". The song featured Ike Turner with 'Little Ann' on backing vocals, and Smith on guitar. In addition, he has played with such guitar players as Hubert Sumlin, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, B.B. King and Grant Green.

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

  • The Urban Soul of Bennie Smith 1993 (Blues Highway Music)
  • Shook Up 2001 (Fedora Records)
  • Bennie Smith All-Star Sessions 2006

In addition to his featured albums, Smith provided lead and rhythm guitar on a number of released singles and albums. These included:

Sessions - singles[edit]

  • "Boxtop", Ike Turner, (with Tina Turner (a.k.a. Little Ann) on vocals) 1958 (Tune Town)
  • "Mistreated", Clayton Love with the Roosevelt Marks Orchestra, 1958-59 (Bobbin). It is likely that Smith recorded other songs with the Roosevelt Marks Orchestra during the period from 1958 to 1961.
  • "Condition Your Heart", Little Herbert and the Arabians, 1961
  • "Shook Up Over You", Jimmy "Soul" Clark, 1963

Sessions - albums[edit]

  • Mean Disposition, Big Bad Smitty, 1991 (Adelphi/Genes. This album is included in the Library of Congress) -
  • Cold Blood, Big Bad Smitty, 1997 (HMG) Mr Smith shared the lead guitar role with Hubert Sumlin.

Style[edit]

Smith named Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and Matt "Guitar" Murphy as his two greatest influences on the guitar.

Death[edit]

As a complication to lung cancer, Mr. Smith suffered a heart attack at his home on September 9, 2006. He died on September 10, 2006.

References[edit]