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Oh man, I just wish you people had come along twenty years ago; I was in my prime then - Mance Lipscomb to Paul Oliver, Chris Strachwitz and Mack McCormick, 1960

Author Topic: Floyd Smith on 1939's "Floyd's Guitar Blues"  (Read 1686 times)

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Offline JasO

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Floyd Smith on 1939's "Floyd's Guitar Blues"
« on: June 09, 2011, 08:18:19 AM »
One of the first electric guitarists on record, Floyd Smith played an important role in jazz from the 1930s through the 1950s, and he also has an important historical footnote in blues history. With the Jeter-Pillars Orchestra in the mid 1930s, he played both standard and Hawaiian-style guitar onstage. His solo on the band?s August 1937 recording of ?Lazy Rhythm? is surely one of the very first uses of an electric guitar on a jazz recording. Then, during his March 16, 1939, session with Andy Kirk and His Mighty Clouds of Joy, Smith recorded ?Floyd?s Guitar Blues,? the first hit record to feature a blues-style solo played on an electric guitar. Soon afterwards Benny Goodman tried to recruit Smith, but due to contractual obligations Smith was unable to accept his offer ? in his place, he recommended Charlie Christian. During World War II, Smith jammed with Django Reinhardt in the Gypsy jazz guitarist?s Paris home. He spent much of the 1950s playing ?knock-down, drag-out swing? with pioneering Hammond organist Wild Bill Davis, and then spent six years with Bill Doggett?s band.

In 1979, I had the opportunity to do an hour-long interview with Floyd, who recounted his experiences with all of the musicians and recordings mentioned above. He also had many insights into touring in a black band the 1930s, Benny Goodman?s personality, the evolution of guitar playing, and his big band contemporaries Eddie Durham, Leonard Ware, Alvino Rey, Jimmy Shirley, Charlie Christian, and Teddy Bunn, whom he credited as ?the original thumbpicker.? A very cool guy, Floyd also talked about his guitar collection and the fact that he?d been using the same tortoiseshell guitar pick for 25 years. If you?re interested in seeing the entire conversation, I?ve posted it here:

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Floyd Smith on 1939's "Floyd's Guitar Blues"
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2011, 04:38:21 AM »
Informative read, thanks.

I wonder if Floyd was ever aware that Chuck Berry recorded his theme tune in 1958 as "Blues For Hawaiians" (using a Gibson Electraharp).

This instrumental appeared on the LP "Chuck Berry On Top" (released July1959) but wasn't issued as 78 or 45.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2011, 04:40:40 AM by Bunker Hill »


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