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Friday, 28 February 2014

Svend Asmussen born 28 February 1916

 
Svend Harald Christian Asmussen (born 28 February 1916 in Copenhagen, Denmark) is a jazz violinist from Denmark, known as "The Fiddling Viking". An institution in danish jazz and an icon of staying power Asmussen has been a recording artist for 8 decades and is still active. 

Asmussen started playing violin at age seven, got his professional debut in 1933 and made his first recording as a leader in 1935. At first the studied to become a dentist when not playing gigs, but from 1937 he became full-time musician, playing with visiting stars as Josephine Baker, Fats Waller and The Mills Brothers. He started gaining a reputation in both London, Paris and Berlin but the outbreak of war halted planned tours. Due to the nazi's hate of jazz music it was used as a political protest in occupied Denmark (and elsewhere) and Asmussen got arrested.
 
He still succeeded in recording a string of singles for the Odeon label through the first half of the 40'ies. Later shifting to the Tono label. From the early 40'ies he also became active as an actor in both films and on theater, mainly in comedies.
 
In 1945 he formed a new sextet and started touring Europe as a jazz artist, while still making pop music for films, radio and TV. In the late 1950s, Asmussen formed the trio Swe-Danes with singer Alice Babs and guitarist Ulrik Neumann. The group became very popular in Scandinavia for their music hall style entertainment and also toured the United States. He reunited with Babs off and on, touring Brazil with her '74.
 
 

  

Strict immigration laws kept Asmussen from touring the US andhence he has stayed little known stateside. He did, over the years, record with Lionel Hampton, John Lewis, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and Toots Thielemans. In 1966, Asmussen appeared alongside Grappelli, Stuff Smith, and Jean-Luc Ponty in a jazz Violin Summit in Switzerland that was issued as a live recording. He made an appearance at the 1967 Monterey Jazz Festival, which included a celebrated violin summit with him, Ray Nance and Jean-Luc Ponty. When a dozen or more american jazz artist started moving to Copenhagen he formed groups with Ed Thigpen, Kenny Drew.
 
Since the mid-1990s Asmussen has led, performed and recorded with his own quartet featuring topnotch Danish musicians. In later years Svend Asmussen has both played live and recorded with guitarist Jacob Fischer and Aage Tanggaard. At 98 Asmussen is still fiddling.
 
 
Asmussen's collection of jazz music, photographs, posters and other material is held in the jazz collections at the University Library of Southern Denmark. Asmussen's son, Claus Asmussen, is a well-known guitar player in Denmark, and a former member of the band Shu-Bi-Dua. (Info edited mainly from Wikipedia & discogs.com)
 

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Jake Thackray born 27 February 1938

 
 
John Philip "Jake" Thackray (27 February 1938 – 24 December 2002), was an English singer-songwriter, poet and journalist. Best known in the late 1960s and early 1970s for his topical comedy songs performed on British television, his work ranged from satirical to bawdy to sentimental to pastoral, with a strong emphasis on storytelling, making him difficult to pigeonhole.
 
Born in Leeds, Thackray was educated by Jesuits at St Michael's College, before studying modern languages at Durham University. He seemed destined for a career as a secondary school teacher, and began writing and performing songs - learning some basic guitar - as audio aids for his pupils, who were fond of his slanging turns of phrase and infectious enthusiasm.
 
He then taught in Lille for two years, and later in Algeria. In France, he absorbed the music of the chansoniers, notably George Brassens, with whom he became friends and formed a sporadic songwriting partnership.
 
On returning to Leeds, he taught for a further six years, and moonlighted as a singing guitarist in local folk clubs and on radio programmes. By 1966, he was appearing on the BBC regional television magazine Look North - and three years later, after an ill-starred bout with a Thames TV children's programme, he made it to The Braden Beat, then seen as sophisticated late-night BBC viewing.
 
Thackray's compositions were dominated by lyrics that could be comfortably divorced from their musical settings, as were those of Brassens and Jacques Brel - and as they would be as printed poems in Jake's Progress (1977), an oeuvre integrale illustrated by cartoonist Bill Tidy. While some of his songs were little more than repeated series of notes, used to carry the words, Thackray was also capable of sturdy melodies, and overall reaction to his early broadcasts - delivered in a compellingly lugubrious baritone - was surprisingly gratifying.
 
They also attracted the attention of Audrey Laurie's husband, Brian Fahey, then musical director for Shirley Bassey. For Fahey, the singer was unique, and the strength of his lyrics "breathtakingly strong". "I equated him," said Fahey, "as the same kind of wit as Noel Coward."
 
By 1967, Fahey's recommendation had helped win Thackray a recording contract with EMI. His debut album, The Last Will And Testament Of Jake Thackray, contained Jumble Sale, The Cactus, and other staples from his stage repertoire. Like his later releases, it tended to sell steadily, if unremarkably. There were also lucrative cover versions by the likes of the Barron Knights - with Sister Josephine and Tony Capstick (Old Mollie Metcalfe), the King's Singers (Remember Bethlehem) and Fred Wedlock with Bantam Cock.
 
 
  
In 1968, Thackray himself came close to a chart entry with Lah-Di-Dah, thanks to the television exposure - altogether, he made more than 1,000 appearances. After The Braden Beat, there were residencies on the David Frost Show, Frost Over America and on Braden's curious successor, That's Life. He was often required to deliver a different topical song every week. He also made headway as a bona-fide chansonier elsewhere in Europe. Indeed, by the late 1970s Thackray's living had come to depend principally on earnings on a club and theatre circuit that extended to north America and the Far East, as well as occasional surfacings on national radio. His cult celebrity was such that his audiences, if not huge, were at least committed, and albums, such as Ideal (1990), did brisk business.

Health problems, artistic frustrations and financial worries - he was declared bankrupt in 2000 - necessitated virtual retirement to his home in Monmouth. "I never liked the stage much," he confessed, "I was turning into a real bloody Archie Rice, so I cancelled existing gigs and pulled out for a bit." He had always been an observant Roman Catholic, and became increasingly religious in his later years, limiting his musical activities to performing the Angelus at his local church. He died of heart failure on 24 December 2002 at the age of 64, leaving his widow, Sheila, from whom he was separated, and three sons, Bill, Sam and Tom.  (Info mainly edited from The Guardian)

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Johnny Cash born 26 February 1932

 
John R. "Johnny" Cash (February 26, 1932 – September 12, 2003), A.K.A. "The Man In Black", was an American singer-songwriter, actor, and author, who has been called one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Although he is primarily remembered as a country music artist, his songs and sound spanned many other genres including rockabilly and rock and roll (especially early in his career) as well as blues, folk, and gospel. This crossover appeal led to Cash being inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Late in his career, Cash covered songs by several rock artists.
 
Johnny Cash was born in Kingsland, Arkansas, the fourth of seven children to Ray Cash (May 13, 1897, Kingsland, Arkansas – December 23, 1985, Hendersonville, Tennessee) and Carrie Cloveree Rivers (March 13, 1904, Rison, Arkansas – March 11, 1991, Hendersonville, Tennessee). Cash was named J. R. Cash because his parents couldn't think of a name, but the initials "J. R." When Cash enlisted in the Air Force, they wouldn't let him use initials as his name, so he started to use his legal name of John R. Cash.
 
He grew up at the Dyess government resettlement colony in northeast Arkansas, where he worked in the cotton fields with his family and absorbed country and gospel music. The tragic death of his older brother Jack at age fourteen had a dramatic effect on his life and would also have a lasting impact on the tone of his music.
 
Listening to a battery-run radio, Cash heard local country shows from Memphis, the Carter Family on border radio, and the newest hits of singers such as Hank Snow. He sang on radio station KLCN in Blytheville, Arkansas, while in high school, and after working briefly in Pontiac, Michigan, enlisted in the air force and served in Germany for four years, during which time he wrote the future Sun Records classics “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Hey, Porter!” Cash returned home in 1954, settled in Memphis, married, and became an appliance salesman. Wanting to build a career in music, he got together with Luther Perkins (electric guitar) and Marshall Grant (upright bass) to perform gospel songs on a local radio station. 

 
  
 
In the wake of Elvis Presley’s 1954 breakthrough at Sun, Cash and his minimalist band auditioned for Sun owner-producer Sam Phillips. Beginning with the June 21, 1955, release of “Cry! Cry!

Cry!” and “Hey Porter,” Cash became one of the most promising young artists on the label. Country hits such as “I Walk the Line,” “Ballad of a Teenage Queen,” and “Guess Things Happen That Way” crossed over to the pop charts and made Cash one of the dominant new country singers of 1956–1958.
 
He joined the Grand Ole Opry cast on July 7, 1956 (though in 1958 he left for California to pursue a career in movies—without much success initially). The style Cash set in those early days—his deep baritone voice in front of a basic rhythmic background—has changed little over the years, though it was enlarged in 1960 by the addition of his longtime drummer W. S. Holland.

Cash left Sun and signed with Columbia in mid-1958. Hit singles such as “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town” (1959) and “Ring of Fire” (1963) followed, but Cash turned his attention increasingly to recording concept albums such as Ride This Train (1960), Blood Sweat and Tears (1962), Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian (1964), and Ballads of the True West (1965). Producer Don Law encouraged Cash to venture out in new directions to connect with the burgeoning folk music revival of the times. This direction seems to have been natural for Cash as he explored cowboy songs, gospel and traditional spirituals, songs of social conscience and protest, and adaptations of folk material. Appearing at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival and connecting with Bob Dylan, Cash continued to broaden his appeal and deepen his creative sources. His new directions did not always find favor with country's old guard, however. In 1964, when his recording of “The Ballad of Ira Hayes” (about the tragic end suffered by a Native American hero of WWII) received an initially lukewarm reception at radio, Cash took out a full-page ad in Billboard demanding of programmers, “Where are your guts?”
 
The late 1960s witnessed Cash suffering from addiction to pills while his first marriage failed. In 1965 he was arrested for carrying a large quantity of pills across the Mexican border at El Paso. But with the help of June Carter (of the Carter Sisters), with whom he recorded several hit duets, and whom he married on March 1, 1968, Cash was able to overcome his addiction.
 

On January 13, 1968, Cash recorded his masterly live album at Folsom Prison, from which came a new #1 hit version of “Folsom Prison Blues.” This album and the follow-up 1969 live recording at San Quentin pushed his career to new heights. Taken from the San Quentin album, “A Boy Named Sue” (#1 country, #2 pop) became his biggest-selling single and the CMA Single of the Year (1969). Cash was also voted the CMA’s Entertainer of the Year for 1969.
 
From 1969 through 1971, Cash hosted a prime time network television variety show that showcased his status as a national icon while featuring an eclectic mix of guest performers. A live cut from this show, “Sunday Morning Coming Down” (written by Kris Kristofferson), was a #1 country hit. Increasingly, Cash recorded and featured on his television show the work of new songwriters drawn to country

from folk and rock music backgrounds. His younger brother Tommy (b. 1940) had also established a successful singing career around this time and scored several hits, including “Six White Horses” (1969) and “Rise and Shine” (1970).
 
From the late 1960s, and into the 1970s and 1980s, Cash continued to tour with his powerful road troupe—which included at various times Mother Maybelle Carter, the Carter Sisters, (Helen, June, and Anita), and the Statler Brothers. He also broadened the range of his pursuits to include acting. Outstanding among his credits have been the feature film A Gunfight (1971) with Kirk Douglas, the made-for-TV movies Thaddeus Rose and Eddie (1978, with June) and The Pride of Jesse Hallam (1981), and a guest-star appearance in an episode of Columbo.
 
As the 1970s progressed, Cash’s hit records grew more infrequent. By the early 1980s his daughter Rosanne Cash was having more success as a recording artist than he was. But with his old friends Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson, Cash had a #1 hit with the title cut of the Highwayman album in 1985. The foursome did a series of special limited concert tours and recorded two more albums: Highwayman 2 (1990), and Highwayman: The Road Goes on Forever (1995).
 
After Cash left Columbia Records in 1986, he recorded for Mercury until 1992, though again with minimal commercial success. But signed subsequently to the American label, and working with producer Rick Rubin, he released the widely acclaimed American Recordings (1994), an album consisting of Cash's voice accompanied only by an acoustic guitar. The thirteen songs—some his own, some adaptations of folk pieces, and some from songwriters like Tom Waits, Nick Lowe, and Loudon Wainwright—are often searing explorations of loss and sorrow. For American Recordings, Cash received the Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Recording. His 1996 American album Unchained featured a similarly eclectic mix of material, but with Cash backed by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and other guest performers. It was awarded a Grammy for Best Country Album of the Year.
 
Health problems forced Cash to stop touring in the late nineties, though he made occasional public appearances and continued to record with Rubin. Tracks from American III: Solitary Man (2000) and American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002) earned Grammys for Best Male Country Vocal Performance. In 2001 Cash received the National Medal of Arts, the country’s highest award for artistic excellence. His stark video for “Hurt,” a song by Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor, won the admiration of a new generation of music fans, earning six nominations for the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards and winning one (Best Cinematography).
 
June Carter Cash died on May 15, 2003, at the age of 73. June had told Cash to keep working, so he continued to record, completing 60 more songs in the last four months of his life, and even performed a couple of surprise shows at the Carter Family Fold outside Bristol, Virginia. At the July 5, 2003, concert (his last public performance), before singing "Ring of Fire", Cash read a statement about his late wife that he had written shortly before taking the stage:  The spirit of June Carter overshadows me tonight with the love she had for me and the love I have for her. We connect somewhere between here and heaven. She came down for a short visit, I guess, from heaven to visit with me tonight to give me courage and inspiration like she always has.
 
 
Cash died of complications from diabetes at approximately 2:00 a.m. CT on September 12, 2003, while hospitalized at Baptist Hospital in Nashville - less than four months after his wife. It was suggested that Johnny's health worsened due to a broken heart over June's death. He was buried next to his wife in Hendersonville Memory Gardens near his home in Hendersonville, Tennessee.
 
(Adapted mainly from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s Encyclopedia of Country Music, published by Oxford University Press).

 

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Tommy Newsom born 25 February 1929

 
Thomas Penn "Tommy" Newsom (February 25, 1929 – April 28, 2007) was a saxophone player in the NBC Orchestra on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, for which he later became assistant director.
 
Thomas Penn Newsom was born in Portsmouth, Virginia on Feb. 25, 1929. As a young boy, he stared longingly at saxophones’ shiny keys in pawnshop windows, and his parents bought him one when he was 8. He started performing with older musicians when he was 13 at the Elk’s Club and similar settings.
 
Newsom attended the Norfolk Division of the College of a William & Mary, a junior college that became Old Dominion University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in musical education from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, where he paid some of his tuition by playing in strip joints. He then played with Airmen of Note, an Air Force jazz ensemble during a four-year enlistment. He next earned a master’s degree at Columbia University.
 
His professional break came when Goodman hired him to tour with his band. A member of Goodman’s band recommended him to Merv Griffin, and he won a spot on Mr. Griffin’s afternoon show. That led to “Tonight,” where he began on April 2, 1962. Mr. Carson took over as host six months later.The two retired together on May 22, 1992. Mr. Carson died in 2005.
 
Mr. Carson famously delighted in tossing barbs at his regular bandleader, Doc Severinsen, often concerning his flamboyant personality and garish attire. Mr. Newsom, who favored conservative brown suits, got lambasted for his tameness. Mr. Carson called him “the man from bland,” “Mr. Excitement” and the “comatose commander.” Newsom was frequently the band's substitute director, whenever Doc Severinsen was away from the show or filling in for announcer Ed McMahon.
 
He toured South America and the Soviet Union with Benny Goodman, and performed on records with artists like Buck Clayton, a trumpeter for Count Basie. His arrangements were cited in Emmy Awards for musical direction given to “Night of 100 Stars” in 1982 and “The 40th Annual Tony Awards Show” in 1986. He wrote and arranged symphonic pieces. He also recorded several albums as a bandleader.
 
 
 
  
 
 Here's "Skylark" from above 1999 album "The feeling of jazz" 
 
Newsom was as well known within the music industry as an arranger as he was a performer. He arranged for groups as varied as the Tonight Show ensemble and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, and musicians Skitch Henderson, Woody Herman, Kenny Rogers, Charlie Byrd, John Denver, and opera star Beverly Sills. Beginning in 1992, Mr. Newsom did arrangements and compositions for the Diva Jazz Orchestra, a respected all-female band.
 
 
On April 28, 2007, Newsom died of bladder and liver cancer at his home in Portsmouth. He was 78 years old. Newsom had been married to his wife Patricia for 50 years; they had one daughter, Candy, as well as a son, Mark, who died in 2003. (Info edited from Wikipedia & NY Times obit.) 
 
 
Tonight Show band stalwarts Doc Severinsen, Tommy Newsome and Ed Shaughnessy play Johnny Carson's favourite song 'Here's That Rainy Day' to close David Letterman's tribute to Carson.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Willie Kent born 24 February 1936

 
 
Willie Kent (February 24, 1936 – March 2, 2006) was an American blues singer, bassist and songwriter.
 
Born in Inverness, Mississippi, Kent arrived in Chicago in 1952. A day job as a truck driver gave him time to watch and learn from the blues greats he already admired — Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Little Walter. By 1957 he was lending his vocal talents to several local groups using vocal skills he had learnt at church. “My mother she didn’t drink, she didn’t smoke, she didn’t do nothing but go to church. We sang in the choir. So that’s where it came from,” he told the Chicago Tribune in 2002. 

He bought himself a guitar, and in 1959 through guitarist friend Willie Hudson, linked up with the band Ralph and the Red Tops, acting as driver and manager and sometimes joining them onstage to sing. He made a deal with Hudson, letting him use the new guitar in trade for lessons on how to play it. One night’s show was decisive: the band’s bass player arrived too drunk to play, and because the band had already spent the club’s deposit, they couldn’t back out of the gig; so Willie Kent made his debut as a bass player, on the spot. He never looked back. 
 
From that point on, his credits as a musician read like a "Who’s Who" of Chicago blues. After the Red Tops, he played bass with several bands around the city and stopped in often for Kansas City Red’s reknowned "Blue Monday" parties. He was increasingly serious about his music and formed a group with guitarists Joe Harper and Joe Spells and singer Little Wolf. By 1961, he was playing bass behind Little Walter, and by the mid-60’s was sitting in with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Junior Parker. Toward the end of the 60’s, he joined Arthur Stallworth and the Chicago Playboys as their bass player, worked briefly with Hip Linkchain, then played bass behind Jimmy Dawkins. He cut his first album with fellow bluesman Willie James Lyons in 1975.
 
After a series of heart ailments forced Kent to undergo triple bypass surgery in 1989, he spent his recovery examining his life and career, finally abandoning his longtime trucking job in favor of pursuing music full-time. I'm What You Need, his first solo LP in 14 years, soon followed on the Big Boy label and proved the first in a flurry of releases.
 
 
 
 Here's "Somebody Got To Go" from Willie Kent's 2004 album  "Blues And Trouble." 
 
He really hit his stride as the impressive and influential leader of Willie Kent and the Gents, playing blues that kept its authentic Mississippi Delta edge. “So many people now are playing so much funk, it doesn’t sound like the blues,” he would later complain. A string of outstanding albums for labels such as Delmark and Wolf kept his sound alive and won critical acclaim as well as ten W. C. Handy awards.
 
 
On his website Kent summed up his music succinctly. “You can dance to it or just let it wash over you . . . This music touches you where it hurts, then heals you. In short, it is the blues.”
 
In early 2005, Kent was diagnosed with colon cancer, but continued his busy live schedule in spite of chemotherapy treatments. He lost his battle with the disease in March 2006 in Englewood, California, aged 70. (Info edited from various sources) 
 

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Dave Apollon born 23 February 1897


Dave Apollon (February 23, 1898 - May 1972) was a Russian mandolin player.
 
Today Dave Apollon is regarded as one of the most innovative and influential mandolinists of the Twentieth Century, whose more notable recordings/performances include Two Guitars, Hora staccato by Grigoraş Dinicu and Zigeunerweisen aka "Gypsy Airs" by Pablo de Sarasate. His styles include Gypsy and various kinds of European Folk Music. He is also regarded as one of the first jazz mandolinist, with such memorable recordings as Who and St. Louis Blues.
 
Apollon was born in the city of Kiev which was, at the time, part of Russia. At an early age he played the violin but abandoned the instrument after taking a fervent interest in an old bowl back mandolin his father kept in the house.
 
He began playing the mandolin at a young age and apparently taught himself. When he was 13 he met a renowned italian mandolinist who was touring Russia, and Dave managed to persuade the man to help him. He taught Dave how to hold the pick and a few other “tricks” that would later serve him well. By the time Dave was 14, he was playing well enough to organize his own ensemble to entertain in a Kiev movie theatre.
 
In 1919, Dave Apollon decided to escape the hardships of the Russian Revolution and made his way to America. Dave performed in vaudeville where he floored audiences with stunning virtuosity, In 1926 he met a group of filipino string players who had just lost their job in another show. He immediately hired them to be his “orchestra” and began working up the routines and musical numbers that would be part of his show.
 
In 1930, Dave embarked on a motion picture career, filming the first of six musical shorts. 1932 saw the release of his first recorded material, a mélange of American ragtime rhythms and Russian folk music.In 1937, Apollon married Danzi Goodell. He also opened a nightclub -- Club Casanova -- on Manhattan's Upper East Side. While the mandolin was still a part of his life, only a few singles were released during this period. He was also featured in Universal’s “Merry Go ‘Round of 1938”, his only full-length American film. He was also a popular night club performer throughout the ‘40s and ‘50s. Dave Apollon was the first “new world” mandolinist. He was the first to technically master the instrument and at the same time adapt this technique to an extremely wide variety of music.
 
In 1941 he was a member of the touring company of "Boys and Girls Together". In 1946, he met and played with legendary gypsy musician Django Reinhardt. Apollon considered Django the greatest guitarist he had ever heard, and their unique duet took place at an uptown Manhattan nightclub during Djangoís tour of the U.S. with Duke Ellingtons Orchestra. After opening the swank "Cotillion Room" of New York Cityís Hotel Pierre in 1947, he recorded his most popular vaudeville number, "St. Louis Blues" with Laverne Gustafson.
 
  
  
 
As the fifties approached, Apollonís act declined in popularity, although he frequently made radio and TV appearances as a soloist. With job opportunities more plentiful on the West Coast, Dave packed up his family, which now included sons Mike and Leo, and moved to Hollywood where he found a nucleus of musicians to perform with, including Jimmie Haskell, who went on to become one of Hollywoodís leading arrangers and orchestrators. In 1956, Apollon produced his first long-playing album "Lots of Love," on his own label, Romance Records. The album was a success in Las Vegas, where it garnered lots of radio play.
 
An invitation to play at the Desert Inn in Las Vegas led to year-round employment there and lasted until 1963. He recorded three albums for the "Coral" label in the early sixties. Billing himself as "The World's Greatest Mandolin Virtuoso", Apollon's dancing and playing performances were a big hit with the Las Vegas audiences. His Las Vegas experiences were the last performances of his colorful life. After leaving the Desert Inn, failing health kept him from performing, and he never recorded again.
 

Dave Apollon died peacefully in his home in Las Vegas in 1972, after a career that spanned over fifty years. He was cremated along with his very first mandolin, the one he had played as a boy back in Kiev. (Info edited mainly from Wikipedia & dawgnet.com)

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Hurricane Smith born 22 February 1923

                              
 
 
Norman "Hurricane" Smith (22 February 1923 – 3 March 2008) was an English musician, record producer and engineer.

Smith was born in Edmonton, Middlesex, and served as a RAF glider pilot during World War II. After the war day jobs were supplemented by his role, mainly as a drummer, in the Bobby Arnold Quintet. Then, in 1959, and lying about his age - EMI's limit was 28 and he was 35 - Smith applied to become an apprentice engineer at the Abbey Road studios. Beginning as a tape operator, Smith was soon promoted to balance engineer, in which capacity he was assigned to work with Martin. He engineered hits by Helen Shapiro and Frank Ifield on EMI's then more prestigious Columbia label before the arrival of the Beatles.

He was the engineer on all of the EMI studio recordings by The Beatles until 1965, when EMI promoted him from engineer to producer. The last Beatles album he recorded was Rubber Soul, and Smith engineered the sound for almost 100 Beatles songs in total. John Lennon first bestowed upon Smith the nickname of "Hurricane", and it was quickly picked up by the other Beatles. Lennon did so as a humorous reference to Smith's very unhurried and unflappable nature. While working with The Beatles on 17 June 1965, he was offered £15,000 by the band's music publishing company, Dick James Music, to buy outright a song he had written.

In early 1967, he began working with a new group, Pink Floyd, producing their first, second, and fourth studio albums The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, A Saucerful of Secrets, and Ummagumma. During the sessions for the song, "Remember a Day", drummer Nick Mason became agitated that he could not come up with the right drum part for the song. Smith, however, knew what he wanted with the drums, so he played the part himself.
 

In 1968, Smith produced one of the first rock concept albums, The Pretty Things' S.F. Sorrow. He produced early recordings by Barclay James Harvest, including their highly rated album Once Again, and many years later was name-checked in John Lees' song, "John Lennon's Guitar".

In 1971, Smith, using a recording artist pseudonym of Hurricane Smith, had a UK #2 hit with "Don't Let It Die". This recording was a demo of a song that he had written with the hope that John Lennon would record it. When he played it for fellow record producer Mickie Most, Most was impressed enough to tell him to release it as it was. 
 
   
 
In 1972, he enjoyed a transatlantic hit with "Oh Babe What Would You Say?", which became a U.S. #1 Cash Box and a Billboard Pop #3 hit. It reached #4 in the UK Singles Chart. Also included on Smith's self-titled debut album was a third hit single, a cover version of Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Who Was It?" (UK #23).
 
Some recordings followed, such as "My Mother Was Her Name" (1972), "Beautiful Day, Beautiful Night" (1973) and "To Make You My Baby" (1974). However, his subsequent attempts at producing successful recordings proved elusive. Capitalising on his solo recording efforts, Smith went on to do two very successful live tours of the then thriving north of England cabaret circuit complete with band and dancers. Smith enlisted the help of session drummer Peter Boita who "fixed" a band for Smith which was mostly made up of the temporarily disbanded "Bob Miller and The Millermen" band. This lineup went onto record the last album Smith made for EMI Records called "Razzmahtazz Shall Inherit The Earth" released in 1973.

Smith also recorded an instrumental track, entitled "Theme From an Unmade Silent Movie", which the West Midlands based radio presenter, Tony Butler, adopted as his theme music, playing it frequently on his sports show in an attempt, often successful, to encourage the region's local football teams to score a goal. Fans of Aston Villa F.C. also consider this tune as their unofficial club theme, and it can often be heard played at Villa Park during the pre-match and half-time intervals. 

Later, Smith moved to Rye, in Sussex, and enjoyed his retirement, though he relished telling stories of his days at Abbey Road and took part in the occasional documentary about the Beatles or Pink Floyd. In 2004, he released From Me To You which included new versions of his 1970s material, and a cover of the Beatles song the album was named after. Included in the liner notes were messages from Sir Paul McCartney and members of Pink Floyd.
 
Smith wrote a memoir, entitled John Lennon Called Me Normal. It debuted on 16 March 2007 as a limited edition at The Fest for Beatles Fans in Secaucus, New Jersey. There, Smith appeared and sang "Oh Babe". This was to be his last public appearance. The book contains never before published pictures, newly revealed historical facts about the Beatles and Pink Floyd at Abbey Road Studios, as well as details of Smith's life as an RAF glider pilot. 
 

Smith died from cancer aged 85, in March 2008 in East Sussex, England. (Info mainly Wikipedia)