Little Smokey Smothers
|Little Smokey Smothers|
|Birth name||Albert Abraham Smothers|
January 2, 1939|
Tchula, Mississippi, United States
|Died||November 20, 2010
Chicago, Illinois, United States
|Years active||Late 1950s – 2010|
His elder brother, Otis (died 1993), was known as the bluesman Otis "Big Smokey" Smothers, with whom he was sometimes confused.
Albert Abraham "Abe" Smothers was born in Tchula, Mississippi, learned guitar at the age of 15, and relocated to Chicago two years later. He soon appeared on stage playing alongside Arthur “Big Boy” Spires, Magic Sam, Otis Rush and Lazy Bill Lucas. In 1958 he joined up with Howlin' Wolf, and played on Wolf's recording session for Chess Records the following year. Tracks Smothers contributed to included "I've Been Abused," "Howlin' for My Darling," and "Mr. Airplane Man."
In 1961 he founded Little Smokey Smothers and the Pipeplayers. He later met Paul Butterfield and became a founding member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. He was replaced in the band by Elvin Bishop, but developed a friendship that lasted a lifetime. Throughout the 1960s Smothers appeared with Buddy Guy, James Cotton, Earl Hooker, and Junior Wells. Musical opportunities dried up in the 1970s, and Smothers worked in construction. He recorded again, after several years break, in 1979 as part of Mojo Buford's Chicago Blues Summit album. He re-appeared in the 1980s with The Legendary Blues Band. Their 1989 recording, Woke up with the Blues, included contributions from Smothers.
In 1993, Bishop made a guest appearance on Smothers first solo album with the Dutch Black Magic label, Bossman! The Chicago Blues of Little Smokey Smothers. The recording also included work from Smothers' cousin, Lee "Shot" Williams. Bishop and Smothers played at the 1993 Chicago Blues Festival. Smothers had open heart surgery in 1995, but the following year issued Second Time Around. Smothers performed at the 1999 San Diego Blues Festival, and at a party for Mick Jagger's 55th birthday.
Alligator Records then issued That's My Partner (2000), a live album recorded in San Francisco, which saw Smothers reunited with Bishop. Smothers also appeared at the 2000 Chicago Blues Festival. He also featured in Martin Scorsese's 2003 television series The Blues, with excerpts from his live show. In 2006 Smothers and Bishop played live at the Ground Zero club in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Latterly Smothers experienced health problems, and had both legs amputated due to diabetes.
In 2009, Bishop compiled the benefit album, Chicago Blues Buddies, incorporating recordings made by Smothers and Bishop dating back to 1992. Proceeds from the album helped to pay for Smothers' medical costs.
- Bossman! The Chicago Blues of Little Smokey Smothers (1993) - Black Magic (Netherlands)
- Second Time Around (1996) - Crosscut (Germany)
- Chicago Blues Buddies (2009) - Black Derby
- Woke up with the Blues (1989) - Ichiban - The Legendary Blues Band
- Cold Shot (1995) - Black Magic - Lee "Shot" Williams
- That's My Partner (2000) - Alligator - Elvin Bishop
- Chicago Blues Summit (2002) - P-Vine - George "Mojo" Buford
- Dahl, Bill. "Little Smokey Smothers". Allmusic. Retrieved March 3, 2010.
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- "Little Smokey Smothers". Centerstagechicago.com. Retrieved March 3, 2010.
- "Albert "Little Smokey" Smothers". Mississippi Writers & Musicians. Retrieved March 3, 2010.
- Dick Shurman & Bruce Iglauer, Obituary in Juke Blues no.70, 2010, p.60
- Crosscut.de - accessed March 2010
- Blues.co.nz - accessed March 2010
- Gordon, Rev. Keith A. "Little Smokey Smothers Benefit CD". About.com. Retrieved March 3, 2010.
- HDtracks.com - accessed March 2010
- "Allmusic ((( Little Smokey Smothers > Discography > Main Albums )))".