Page 1 of 1

Huey "Piano" Smith

PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 12:40 pm
by Garth Cartwright
John Wirt's biography of the great New Orleans pianist is well worth a read for anyone interested in that era of NO music. Smith is still alive but has not played music for decades - he became a Jehovahs Witness and so disillusioned with the music industry that he left never to return. His finest music of the 1950s and 60s is filled with rollicking joy and shows what a superb pianist and craftsman Smith is. The biographer - a journalist from Baton Rouge - has had access to Smith and friends (lots of quotes from the late Earl King and Dr John) so you get a strong portrait of the Dew Drop Inn scene and the dangers of the road where car crashes and brutal cops were to be expected.

While it is common knowledge that R&B artists of the 1950s were royally ripped off few have been treated as shabbily as Smith. Johnny Vincent of Ace Records, Mississippi, just stole out right - putting his name on all the songs then crediting them to his father in law and rarely paying royalties. When Smith employed NO's one music biz lawyer Charles Levy to help get royalties he again got shafted, with Levy putting the songs in his wife's name. And when a NYC lawyer who made a big deal of getting overdue royalties for old R&B artists got involved he aimed to enrich himself even more. Poor Huey, he must have been swindled out of millions. Yet he comes across as a very warm, humble man. Too much of the book covers the endless court cases as Huey gets shafted again and again and there could have been more info' on the 1960s but this is still a worthy book on an undersung hero of rock n roll.

Re: Huey "Piano" Smith

PostPosted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 1:16 pm
by Adam Blake
At least he got to make some of the best rock'n'roll records ever made. The slimeballs who queued up to rip him off - all they ever got was money.