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Page last modified on August 01, 2014, at 05:03 AM EST

Arthur Smith on the set of The Arthur Smith Show with guest, Andy Griffith

Arthur Donaldson Smith (April 1, 1921 - April 3, 2014)

Biography

Arthur Smith was born in Clinton, South Carolina. Most of his childhood was spent in Kershaw, South Carolina, where his father worked in a cotton mill and led a local brass band. He wrote his first song at the age of six. Smith learned to play trumpet for his father's mill band, and played with his brothers in a Dixieland group. He later mastered the mandolin, fiddle and guitar. He got started in radio and eventually ended up at WBT in Charlotte, North Carolina where he was a regular on their Carolina Hayride show.

Smith was nicknamed "Guitar Boogie" after his bluegrass song by the same title became his first big hit in 1945. He would carry that nickname until his death. During the 1950s Smith hosted the Carolina Calling variety show on WBTV, along with his group, the Crackerjacks.

Smith launched The Arthur Smith Show in the late 1950s. By 1965, his show had been syndicated to more than 50 television markets. It would continue for a total of 32 years. He also hosted a syndicated radio show called Top of the Morning. Like the television show, his radio program aired for more than 30 years. Shelby, North Carolina's Bost Bread was his regular sponsor.

In addition to performing, songwriting and being a famous radio and TV personality, Smith operated a successful recording studio where many up-and-coming gospel and bluegrass groups got their start. Smith's studio was also used by established stars. Soul legend James Brown recorded his hit "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" at Smith's studio in 1965. George Beverly Shea, the Statler Brothers, Pat Boone and Johnny Cash also recorded there.

Smith also marketed and produced syndicated shows for other artists. The list is diverse including the likes of Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash, Richard Petty, George Beverly Shea and Amy Vanderbilt.

After leaving the airwaves, Smith continued singing, performing, producing and writing music into his 80s. By the end of his life, he had composed more than 500 songs including several Gospel classics like "I Saw A Man," "I've Been With Jesus" and "The Fourth Man." "I Saw A Man" was included on Rickey Van Shelton's million selling gospel album Don't Overlook Salvation (1992). Of course, Smith's most famous tune was the instrumental bluegrass classic "Feuding Banjos" that he originally recorded in 1955 with Dan Reno. "Feuding Banjos" hit the mainstream in a big way after it was featured prominently in the Warner-Brothers film Deliverance (1972), where in the film's credits, the title was listed with the name it's best known for now, "Dueling Banjos." (The film gave no credit to Smith as the songwriter, so he sued and won a substantial settlement.)

Outside of his music endeavors, Smith operated Arthur Smith Sportsfishing Tournaments, a company that hosted fishing tournaments for 17 years. He was also a Sunday School teacher.

Arthur Smith passed away on April 3, 2014 just two days after his 93rd birthday.

Awards

Grammy Award for "Dueling Banjos" (1973)
SGMA Hall Of Fame (2010)
Order Of The Long Leaf Pine (from the state of North Carolina)
Order Of The Silver Crescent (from the state of South Carolina)
South Carolina Entertainment and Music Hall of Fame
North Carolina Music Hall of Fame

Songwriter's Résumé

(Partial List)

Because Jesus Said It
He's Everywhere
I Saw A Man
I've Been With Jesus
Not My Will
The Fourth Man
You Are The Finger Of God

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Page last modified on August 01, 2014, at 05:03 AM EST