Saturday, April 5, 2014

Arthur Smith - RIP

Legendary guitarist, banjo player, fiddler, songwriter, TV host, radio personality Arthur Smith passed away on Thursday. He was 93 years old. His death marked the end of a long and stellar career making music in Charlotte, N.C. Although he was born in South Carolina Mr. Smith made Charlotte his home in the early 1940’s and never looked back.

His radio and TV shows were regional in their makeup, but had a worldwide effect on music. His iconic “Fuedin’ Banjo’s” would go on to be heard in films like “Deliverance”, for which he was given no credit whatsoever and had to bring suit in order to obtain any money for the use of his song. When Mitsubishi used the song again in the 1990’s he made some more money by taking them to court. But that is just a small part of who Mr. Smith was.

All over the country there were regional variety shows along the lines of the Ed Sullivan Show in New York. These regional shows highlighted the music and happenings in the local area in which they aired. I have often been envious of the people who got to watch these shows when I was a kid. Sure, I had Sullivan, but so did the people in the small cities. They just had something extra.

Guests such as Johnny Cash; who used to stay at Mr. Smith’s home in Charlotte when he came for a visit; Billy Graham and his wife Ruth, Andy Griffith, and a host of young guitar pickers from Nashville; including a very young Vince Gill; all made appearances on Mr. Smith’s show. Paul McCartney played 2 songs in 1958 which got him in the Quarrymen with John Lennon. One was Eddie Cochrane’s “Twenty Flight Rock”; the other was Arthur Smith’s “Guitar Boogie.”

Regional shows like Mr. Smith’s have gone by the wayside in the wake of the expanding global economy, but they will always be remembered for the joyful noise they made. The world was much less complex in those days when television was live and the performers even livelier. RIP Arthur Smith.

For more about Mr. Smith use the following link;

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