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(Vocals, 1894–1937) Bessie Smith was the first blues recording star during the form’s initial heyday in the ‘jazz age’ of the 1920s. A protégé of the great Ma Rainey, Smith and her booming, sorrowful voice took the East Coast by storm in stage shows in the 1920s. Signed to Columbia Records, she scored with ‘Downhearted Blues’, ‘Nobody ...

Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, general editor Michael Heatley
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Bessie Smith was one of the greatest vocalists of the twentieth century; her emotional delivery and exquisite phrasing has been an influence on instrumentalists as well as innumerable singers, both male and female. Many of her records, including ‘Gimmie a Pigfoot’, ‘Woman’s Trouble Blues’, ‘St. Louis Blues’ and the song that became an anthem of the Great Depression, ...

Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues, founding editor Howard Mandel
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With the exception of Judas Priest, no metal band has been more influential than Iron Maiden. And it is no coincidence that Maiden first took flight when guitarist Adrian Smith joined the band one month into recording their second album, Killers, in 1981. Adrian Frederik ‘H’ Smith was born in Hackney, East London, in February 1957. ...

Source: Rock Guitar Heroes, consultant editor Rusty Cutchin
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(Trumpet, 1908–91) This Georgia-born trumpeter (real name Cladys Smith) was on the New York scene by the age of 17 in 1925, working with Charlie Johnson’s house band at Small’s Paradise. In 1927 he played on Duke Ellington’s ‘Black And Tan Fantasy’ and later that year joined James P. Johnson and Fats Waller in Chicago for a production of ...

Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues, founding editor Howard Mandel
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(Vocals, 1883–1946) Mamie Smith’s first recording session, for OKeh in 1920, resulted in a pair of nondescript pop songs, but her manager Perry Bradford then talked the label into recording her as a blues singer. On 10 August 1920, fronting a band dubbed the Jazz Hounds – featuring stride pianist Willie ‘The Lion’ Smith (no relation) ...

Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues, founding editor Howard Mandel
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(Piano, vocals, 1904–29) A seminal figure in the development of boogie-woogie piano, self-taught Clarence ‘Pine Top’ Smith was raised in Birmingham, Alabama and worked the southern club and vaudeville circuit during the early 1920s. In 1928 he relocated to Chicago, where he roomed with fellow boogie-woogie piano pioneers Meade ‘Lux’ Lewis and Albert Ammons. Smith recorded ...

Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues, founding editor Howard Mandel
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(Vocals, 1895–1943) Atlanta-born Trixie Smith was a vaudeville trouper when, in 1922, she cut her first records on Black Swan. Although she did not have the vocal prowess of front-line blues stars like Bessie Smith (no relation), she recorded steadily until 1926 – often with top-flight jazz orchestras such as Fletcher Henderson’s – and sporadically thereafter. In the ...

Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues, founding editor Howard Mandel
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(Violin, 1909–67) Inspired by Joe Venuti in the 1920s, Joe Hezekiah Leroy Smith and his sextet (with Jonah Jones) became a sensation on 52nd Street early in 1936. In contrast to the polish of Venuti, Smith turned the violin in a more barrelhouse direction, making it swing with an unremitting swagger. He was also the first to ...

Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues, founding editor Howard Mandel
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(Piano, 1897–1973) In the 1920s Willie ‘The Lion’ Smith was an obscure master of Harlem stride (a virtuoso style that evolved out of ragtime after 1919) whose brilliant technique influenced countless young pianists who heard him in person. His legend began to emerge in 1935 as stride was fading into nostalgia and he started to record regularly. For the next ...

Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues, founding editor Howard Mandel
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(Piano, vocals, b. 1934) Huey P. Smith was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and worked with Earl King and Guitar Slim in the early 1950s. He made his recording debut for Savoy in 1953 but his on-off tenure with Ace Records from 1955–64 was his most important. His group the Clowns had two huge R&B records in ‘Rockin’ ...

Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues, founding editor Howard Mandel
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(Organ, piano, 1925–2005) Jimmy Smith, a fluent and inventive jazz improviser, is regarded as the greatest of the soul jazz organists; he essentially defined the form in his performances and recordings for Blue Note in the 1950s. His adoption of the Hammond organ to soul jazz’s combination of jazz improvisation over blues-rooted grooves opened up a new ...

Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Jazz & Blues, founding editor Howard Mandel
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(Vocals, b. 1927) Born in Maynardville, Tennessee, Smith’s earliest hits – including ‘Let’s Live A Little’ (1951), ‘Let Old Mother Nature Have Her Way’ (1951), ‘(When You Feel Like You’re In Love) Don’t Just Stand There’ (1952) and ‘Hey Joe’ (1953) – came in the early and mid-1950s. As a singer, Smith started out in the honky-tonk ...

Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Music, consultant editor Bob Allen
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(Vocals, guitar, 1933–80) Smith was born near Yazoo City, Mississippi and recorded rockabilly for Sun. The likes of ‘Ubangi Stomp’ and ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Ruby’ are now perceived as classics but only the more restrained ‘So Long I’m Gone’ made the national charts. He moved to California and cut a string of country hits for Liberty in 1960–64 ...

Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Music, consultant editor Bob Allen
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(Vocals, guitar, b. 1942) Former member of The Monkees, Nesmith wrote key hits for Linda Ronstadt (‘Different Drum’) and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (‘Some Of Shelly’s Blues’) and formed the First National Band, whose albums demonstrated how country-rock might marry the Americana mythology of the former and the conceptual ambition of the latter. The TV-savvy Nesmith ...

Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Music, consultant editor Bob Allen
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(Vocals, 1943–2005) Sammi Smith will forever be remembered for her 1971 chart-topping version of Kris Kristofferson’s ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’, which also made the US pop Top 10. Her one and only No. 1 highlighted her worth as a song interpreter, and choice covers of Steve Goodman’s ‘City Of New Orleans’ (1973) ‘Today I Started Loving ...

Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Music, consultant editor Bob Allen
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