Peer Tribute: Johnny Smith, 1922-2013

September 5, 2013

The passing of Johnny Smith brought back some fond memories. Back in 1980, I started helping out on Guitar Corner, a Saturday radio show on station CJAD in Montreal. We’d feature a guitar player, play some of his or her music, and discuss influences, equipment, and so on. My task for one show was to dig up all the info I could find on Johnny Smith so that we could feature him the following week. I’d heard that he had a music store in Colorado Springs, so I called, and, much to my surprise, he answered the phone. Once I explained my purpose, he was very open and willing to chat with me for about 30 minutes. Later in the week, I needed to clarify some facts and I called him again. He willingly gave me all the info requested. The show went on, and I felt we did a good job. We sent him a copy of the air check and he thanked us.

In September 1981, I had to go to Colorado Springs on business, and found the time to stop by Johnny’s store. I got to spend a few hours with him, just chatting and having him show me around. To say I was thrilled would be an understatement. On the wall was his personal Gibson Johnny Smith guitar. He took it down and let me play it. I told him there was no way I could play in front of him, so he let me sit in a corner of the store and play his guitar unamplified. Then, he went in the back and came out with his D’Angelico, which he handed over to me so I could try it out. What an amazing experience. I later bought one of his books—which he signed for me. He also let me take this photo of him and his D’Angelico. Johnny was a great guitar player and a real gentleman. I’ll miss him.

Want to read more stories like this?
Get our Free Newsletter Here!

COMMENTS

comments powered by Disqus

Reader Poll

Best B.B. King Song?




See results without voting »