G. E. Smith

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G. E. Smith
Smith in 2001
Smith in 2001
Background information
Birth nameGeorge Edward Haddad
Born (1952-01-27) January 27, 1952 (age 70)
Scranton, Pennsylvania, U.S.
OriginStroudsburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
Years active1977–present
WebsiteOfficial MySpace

George Edward Smith ( Haddad; born January 27, 1952) is an American guitarist. Smith was the lead guitarist for the duo Hall & Oates during the band's heyday from 1979 to 1985, playing on five number one singles. After Hall & Oates went into a hiatus in 1985, Smith joined the sketch-comedy show Saturday Night Live, serving as bandleader and co-musical director of the Saturday Night Live Band.[1]

Smith has recorded and performed with many acclaimed artists, including David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, Roger Waters, Tina Turner, Tracy Chapman and Dan Hartman.[2] He was the initial lead guitarist in Bob Dylan's Never Ending Tour band from 1988 to 1990 and also served as musical director and a guitarist of Dylan's The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration at Madison Square Garden in 1992. From 2010 to 2013, Smith was the rhythm, lead and bass guitarist in Roger Waters's The Wall Live tour, one of the highest-grossing concert tours of all time.

He received a Grammy Award nomination along with Buddy Guy in 1997 for the album Live! The Real Deal along with the Saturday Night Live Band as well as an Emmy Award for the Saturday Night Live: The 25th Anniversary Special in 2000.[3][2] His albums as a solo artist include In the World (1981), Get a Little (with the Saturday Night Live Band, 1993), Incense, Herbs and Oils (1998) and Stony Hill (2020) with Leroy Bell.

Early life[edit]

Smith was born January 27, 1952, in Scranton, Pennsylvania as George Edward Haddad.[4] His father was Lebanese and his mother was from Ohio.[5] His last name, Haddad, is Arabic for blacksmith.[6] Growing up in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, Smith started playing guitar at the age of 4. In 1959, at the age of 7, he was given a C. F. Martin guitar. On his 11th birthday Smith's mother bought him his first electric guitar, a Fender Esquire,[7] a model that dated to 1952, his birth year. As a teen he was already earning money as a musician, playing in numerous venues such as Poconos resorts and high school dances.[5]


Early career[edit]

In the early 1970s, Smith left the Poconos for the New Haven, Connecticut area, where he played in a group called The Scratch Band, which also included his future Hall & Oates bandmate Mickey Curry. In late 1977, Smith got his first break when he joined Dan Hartman, releasing his successful album Instant Replay as well as the singles hit "Instant Replay" and fronting as the guitarist in his tour in Europe and the United States. Upon his return to the East Coast, Smith moved to Manhattan and became the guitarist for Gilda Radner's 1979 Broadway show Gilda Live. Radner and Smith became friends and married shortly afterward, divorcing in 1982.[8] In 1981, Smith released his first solo album, In the World.

Hall & Oates[edit]

From 1979 to 1985, Smith played lead guitar with Daryl Hall and John Oates, a band which also included Tom "T-Bone" Wolk, Charles DeChant and Mickey Curry. With Hall & Oates, Smith scored five U.S. #1 singles, including "Private Eyes", "Kiss on My List", "Maneater", "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)", and "Out of Touch" as well as five consecutive multi-platinum albums: Voices, Private Eyes, H2O, Rock 'n Soul Part 1 and Big Bam Boom. Other U.S. Top 10 singles included "Family Man", "Say It Isn't So", "Did It in a Minute" and "Method of Modern Love".[2]

Saturday Night Live era[edit]

From 1985 to 1995, Smith served as the Saturday Night Live band's bandleader and co-musical director, along with longtime SNL band keyboardist Cheryl Hardwick.[9][10][11] Smith had become acquainted with SNL creator Lorne Michaels through show alumna Gilda Radner, to whom Smith was married from 1980 to 1982. After a five-year absence, Michaels was back at the show's helm for the 1985–1986 season, and hired Smith as part of his retooling process. During his tenure on the show, Smith (alongside bandmate T-Bone Wolk) became well-known to television audiences for his emotive performances during "band shots," brief snippets of the band playing before SNL went to commercial break.[12] Smith and Wolk were parodied in this capacity in a 1993 episode of The Simpsons.[13] In addition to his onstage duties, Smith also advised Michaels on which musical acts to book on the show.[9]

In the midst of his SNL tenure, Smith toured with Bob Dylan for the first 281 concerts of the Never Ending Tour from June 1988 until October 1990.[14] He also served as the musical director for special events such as the 1988 Emmy Awards, the 1993 Rhythm and Blues Foundation Awards, Bob Dylan's 30th Anniversary Concert at Madison Square Garden as well as acting as the musical director at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Concert in Cleveland.

Smith was fired from SNL after the disastrous 1994–1995 season, which saw the show's lowest ratings in nineteen years.[15] Smith was part of the same exodus that also saw the dismissal of 12 of the show's 15 cast members.[16] He was replaced as bandleader by saxophonist Lenny Pickett and keyboardist Cheryl Hardwick.[17]

Post-SNL career[edit]

In 1996, Smith received a Grammy nomination for his work with Buddy Guy on the album Live: The Real Deal. Smith released his third solo album, Incense, Herbs and Oils in 1998. Smith served as the musical director and band leader honoring Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson at the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C. He also led bands for the Muddy Waters Tribute, and the 1998 and 1999 Mark Twain Awards honoring Richard Pryor and Jonathan Winters which aired on PBS, and Comedy Central.

G. E. Smith with The Roger Waters Band in The Wall Live tour, 2010

During 2004–2006, GE headed up Cleveland Browns home games with his mantra, "Brownstown."

In 2005, Smith and his band appeared on the Comedy Central Roast of Jeff Foxworthy and did a performance with the band Bama.

Smith toured with Roger Waters during the 2010–2013 tour The Wall Live.[18] On December 12, 2012, he performed with Waters at Madison Square Gardens for The Concert for Sandy Relief.

In August 2012, Smith performed for the Republican Party and Mitt Romney at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa Bay, Florida, as the convention's house band. However, Smith said that he is not a Republican or political and saw the event as "just another job".[19][20][21] In July 2016, Smith again led the house band for candidate Donald Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Ohio.[22]

Smith was one of the many guests appearing on the NBC Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special on February 15, 2015.

Smith has performed with Jim Weider—formerly of The Band and member of The Weight Band—on their Masters of the Telecaster series.[23]

In 2015, Smith and wife Taylor Barton started Portraits, a project which hosts a rotating roster of acclaimed musicians and artists from all realms for a deeper look at what drives them creatively. Now in its fourth series they have hosted creative legends from Billy Squier to Ethan Hawke and from the Bacon Brothers to the Avett Brothers.[24]

Smith made a cameo appearance in the music video "Sudden Signs of Grace" (2020) by guitarist/songwriter Tom Guerra.[25]

Personal life[edit]

Smith was married to comedian Gilda Radner (1980–1982) and has been married to singer/songwriter Taylor Barton since 1990.[26]


with Hall & Oates (also as arranger)
with Dan Hartman
with Tom Waits
with Mick Jagger
with Carly Simon
with Ric Ocasek
with Bob Dylan
  • Bob Dylan: The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration (1993), also musical director
  • By the Waterfront Docks (1989) (2007)
  • The House of Gold (Greece, 1989) (2009)
  • Crossroads w/Eric Clapton (1988, 1999) (2012)
  • Carnival to Rio (1990) (2012)
  • Mercy for Poughkeepsie (1988-1989) (2014)
  • East Troy 1988 (2015)
with Tracy Chapman
with Jimmy Buffett
with Buddy Guy
with Moonalice
  • Compliments from Moonalice (2007)
  • Moonalice (2008)
  • The Jewish Mother, Virginia Beach, VA (2008)
with Roger Waters
with David Bowie
Solo Albums
  • In the World (1981)
  • Get a Little (with the Saturday Night Live Band, 1993)
  • Incense, Herbs and Oils (1998)
  • Stony Hill (2020) w/Leroy Bell
As producer/composer


As band member/performer or musical director

Live performances and concerts[edit]

Saturday Night Live specials[edit]

  • Saturday Night Live: 15th Anniversary (TV Special), 1989
  • Saturday Night Live: The Best of Robin Williams (TV Special), 1991
  • Saturday Night Live: The Best of Steve Martin (TV Special), 1998
  • Saturday Night Live: The Best of Mike Myers (TV Special), 1998
  • Saturday Night Live 25th Anniversary (TV Special), 1999, received an Emmy Award
  • Saturday Night Live: The Best of Tom Hanks (TV Special), 2004
  • Saturday Night Live in the '90s: Pop Culture Nation, (TV Special documentary), 2007
  • Saturday Night Live: 40th Anniversary Special, 2015


  1. ^ "Another 'Snl' Shakeup Note: Long-time Bandleader Bopped". NY Daily News. August 28, 1995. Archived from the original on February 4, 2012. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c "G. E. Smith Biography". AllMusic.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ "On Stage at the Kennedy Center: G. E. Smith". PBS.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ Wilding, Patrice (September 19, 2018). "Guitar Aces Bringing Skills to Scranton Cultural Center". The Scranton Times-Tribune. p. 37. For the man born George Edward Haddad, it all started in Northeastern Pennsylvania, where he was born in Scranton and raised in Stroudsburg.
  5. ^ a b "Accomplished musical director/lead guitarist GE Smith talks new LP "Stony Hill" and working with Dylan, Waters, Hall & Oates (Interview)". Glidemagazine. 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ Patterson, Benjamin. "Ethnic Groups USA". p. 344.
  7. ^ "Rig Rundown - G.E.Smith". YouTube. 2018.
  8. ^ Radner, Gilda. It's Always Something. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989.
  9. ^ a b Capozzoli, Michael (October 23, 1993). "Background in Variety of Music Helps Leader of SNL house band". The Miami Herald. p. 60.
  10. ^ "USA Weekend: Who's News". The Cincinnati Enquirer. August 26, 1990. p. 162. Co-music director G.E. Smith has played with rock icons Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger. His music director partner in crime, Cheryl Hardwick, has worked as a composer-arranger on a number of movies, Broadway shows, and television projects.
  11. ^ Jan, Freeman (September 26, 1989). "Who Killed Doctorow's Diatribe?". The Boston Globe. p. 64. SNL buffs may want to move on to HG, whose October issue visits the New York townhouse of Michael O'Donoghue, legendary ex-head writer for SNL, and his wife, Cheryl Hardwick, the show's musical director.
  12. ^ Felice, Adrienne (October 5, 2015). G.E. Smith Interview. Television Academy Foundation. Event occurs at 53:13. Retrieved March 4, 2022.
  13. ^ "Brother from the Same Planet". The Simpsons Archive. September 10, 1994. Retrieved March 4, 2022.
  14. ^ "G.E. Smith on touring with Bob Dylan - EMMYTVLEGENDS.ORG". Archive of American Television. October 5, 2015. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  15. ^ Storm, Jonathan (September 28, 1995). "'Saturday Night' Revived?". The Philadelphia Inquirer. p. F1.
  16. ^ Swift, Orla (September 1, 1995). "Rocker G.E. Smith Ends Nine-Year Stint with SNL". The Record-Journal. Meriden, Connecticut. p. A13.
  17. ^ Beale, Lewis (October 10, 1995). "'Saturday Night': How the Band Plays On". The New York Daily News. p. 73.
  18. ^ "Roger Waters Jams with G E Smith". Relix.com.
  19. ^ "Convention Bandleader G.E. Smith Not A Republican — Or Political At All". TalkingPointsMemo.com. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  20. ^ Alberts, Sheldon (August 31, 2012). "Former 'SNL' band leader wasn't playing politics in Tampa — just his guitar". TheHill.com. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  21. ^ "G.E. Smith Talks Bass, Republicans and Performing with Roger Waters".
  22. ^ "Singer Goes Off on RNC for Using Band's Song, Slams Donald Trump's Wife Too". mediaite.com. Retrieved April 29, 2018.
  23. ^ "MASTERS of THE TELECASTER " featuring: JIM WEIDER , GE SMITH and ANDY POWELL - Tickets - The Heights at Brother Vic's - South Salem, NY - July 14th, 2017". Ticketfly.com. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  24. ^ "PORTRAITS Series". gesmithmusic.com. G.E. Smith. August 11, 2017. Retrieved December 14, 2019.
  25. ^ "Tom Guerra - 'Sudden Signs of Grace'". MamboSons. June 25, 2020. Retrieved April 11, 2022 – via YouTube.
  26. ^ "An Eco-Rock Odyssey From Taylor Barton - The East Hampton Star". easthamptonstar.com.

External links[edit]