b. Lonnie O. Smith, 3rd July 1942, Lackawanna, New York, U.S.A.
d. 28th September 2021, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S.A..
Lonnie Smith is a Jazz Hammond B3 keyboards musician.
He, sometimes goes under the name of Dr. Lonnie Smith, and is a different musician to the jazz-fusion performer, Lonnie Liston Smith.
Lonnie has performed with many of Jazz and Soul music’s classic performers, including Dizzy Gillespie, Grover Washington, Jr., Lou Donaldson, Jimmy McGriff, Leon Thomas, Willis Jackson, Gladys Knight, Dionne Warwick, Etta James, Esther Phillips, The Impressions and The Coasters.
Lonnie was born in New York, into a musical family.
In the Fifties, he performed in several doo wop group’s, (including the Teen Kings whose line-up, at one time, featured Roy Orbison).
The owner of a local music store, gave Lonnie his first Hammond B3 organ.
He left his local town and headed for New York City, where he met George Benson.
George was in Jack McDuff’s own band at the time.
The two formed the ‘George Benson Quartet, featuring Lonnie Smith’, in the mid Sixties.
The group recorded two albums, which were ‘It’s Uptown’ and ‘Cookbook’, before Lonnie began a solo career.
finger-lickin' good - 1967 / turning point - 1969 / think! - 1969 / move your hand - 1970
In 1967, he released ‘Finger Lickin' Good’, (which featured George Benson, Melvin Sparks, Ronnie Cuber, and Marion Booker.
drives - 1970 / mama wailer - 1971 / afro-desia - 1975 / keep on lovin' - 1976
The group released several further albums before the line up changed.
That year, Lonnie collaborated with Lou Donaldson, who hooked him up with the Blue Note Records imprint.
Lou asked Lonnie’s group to record an album with him for Blue Note, entitled ‘Alligator Boogaloo’.
Blue Note signed Lonnie for four albums, including ‘Think’ and ‘Turning Point’.
Lonnie departed Blue Note in 1970, following the release of a couple of live albums.
funk reaction - 1977 / gotcha - 1978 / lonnie smith - 1979 / the turbanator - 2000
During the Seventies, Lonnie adopted a funkier style of jazz-fusion, realised in several sought after albums from that period.
These included 1975’s ‘Afrodesia’, 1976’s ‘Keep On Lovin’, and 1977’s ‘Funk Reaction’ (featuring the title track and ‘Babbitt’s Other Song’).
In 1978, whilst at TK Records, Lonnie recorded an album entitled ‘Gotcha’, which featured the popular tracks ‘Sweet Honey Wine’ and ‘Do It’.
As a solo artist Lonnie went on to release some 30 albums, which featured guest appearances by the likes of Lee Morgan, David ‘Fathead’ Newman, King Curtis, and Blue Mitchell.
Lonnie had been awarded the title of ‘Organ Keyboardist of the Year’ in the years between 2003 to 2014 by the Jazz Journalist Association.
Lonnie passed away in September 2021 at the age of 79.
Finger-lickin' good (Columbia Records 1967)
Think! (Blue Note Records 1968)
Turning Point (Blue Note Records 1969)
Move Your Hand (Live) (Blue Note Records 1969)
Drives (Blue Note Records 1970)
Live at Club Mozambique (Live) (Blue Note Records 1970)
Mama Wailer (Kudu Records 1971)
When the Night is Right! (Chiaroscuro Records 1975)
Afrodesia (Groove Merchant Records 1975)
Keep on Lovin' (Groove Merchant Records 1976)
Funk Reaction (LRC – Lester Radio Corporation Records 1977)
Gotcha (LRC – Lester Radio Corporation Records 1978)
Love Goddess (Star Trac Records 1990)
Afro Blue (Music Masters Records 1993)
Foxy Lady: a Tribute to Hendrix (Music Masters Records 1994)
Purple Haze: a tribute to Jimi Hendrix (Music Masters Records 1995)
The Turbanator (32 Jazz Records 2000)
Boogaloo to Beck: A Tribute (Scufflin' Records 2003)
Too Damn Hot (Palmetto Records 2004)
Jungle Soul (Palmetto Records 2006)
Rise Up! (Palmetto Records 2009)
Spiral (Palmetto Records 2010)
The Healer (Pilgrimage Records 2012)
Evolution (Blue Note Records 2016)