Smith Ballew on a 1931 sheet music cover.
|Birth name||Sykes Ballew|
January 21, 1902|
|Died||May 2, 1984
|Genres||Popular music, Jazz, Country music, Western movies|
|Occupation(s)||Vocalist, musician, orchestra leader, film actor|
He was born in Palestine, Texas. He attended high school in Sherman and college at Austin College and the University of Texas. He began his singing career on the radio, and in the 1930s became one of the earliest of the singing cowboys on the movie screen. He did a series of musical Westerns for Paramount Pictures and one for 20th Century Fox, continuing in supporting roles until the 1950s.
Prior to his singing cowboy career, starting in the late 1920s, he became one of the most recognizable vocalists on hundreds of dance band and jazz records. During this time, Ballew along with Scrappy Lambert, Dick Robertson, and Chick Bullock were the most prolific studio vocalists. He organized his own short-lived band in 1931.
Between 1929 and 1935, he made scores of records issued under his own name for OKeh, the dime store labels (Banner, Domino, Jewel, Regal, Perfect, Oriole as Buddy Blue & His Texans or Jack Blue's Texans), Columbia, and Crown. Few of these popular records gave any indication of his future Cowboy style.
He died at the age of 82 in Longview, Texas.
- Smith Ballew at the Internet Movie Database
- Smith Ballew at AllMovie
- Smith Ballew at Find a Grave
- Smith Ballew bio on the "Solid!" big band music site
- Smith Ballew bio on the "Red Hot Jazz" site
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