Arthur gGuitar Boogieh Smith, the multi-instrumental country musician who wrote the song that would become Dueling Banjos, died at his home on Thursday at the age of 93.
Smith was born in Kershaw, SC where his father was a textile worker and a music teacher who led the town band. Arthur and his brothers, Ralph and Sonny, formed a dixieland group called the Carolina Crackerjacks who had some local success including radio appearances.
Arthur would move to Charlotte, NC in the years running up to World War II and played occassionally with the Briarhoppers band on WBTfs Carolina Barndance. After serving in the Navy during the war, he returned to WBT where he hosted his own program, Carolina Calling.
In 1951, Smith began hosting The Arthur Smith Show on Charlottefs WBTV, a program that would eventually become the first syndicated country music show nationally. The show went on to a thirty two year run in 90 markets. Smithfs early morning program, Carolina Calling, was also carried on CBS-TV during the summer during the 50Œs.
Smith also was a very active composer with over 500 copyrights including his 1955 piece Feudinf Banjos which he recorded with Don Reno. In 1972, the song was performed as Dueling Banjos by Eric Weissburg and Steve Mandel for the movie Deliverance, going on to reach number 2 on the Hot 100, number 5 on the Country Singles and number 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. At first, Smith wasnft given credit for the composition but, after filing a lawsuit, his name was added as its composer.
Arthur built a recording studio in Charlotte that was not only used by artists (James Brown recorded Papafs Got a Brand New Bag at the studio) but also nationally syndicated radio programs by the likes of Johnny Cash, Chet Atkins, Richard Petty and George Beverly Shea along with Smithfs own Top of the Morning which ran for 29 years.
As a recording artist, Smith hit the Country top ten three times with Banjo Boogie (1948 / #9 Country), Guitar Boogie (1948 / #8 Country) and Boomerang (1949 / #8 Country).
Over his life, Smith amassed a long line of honours including BMI Song of the Year 1973 and a Grammy for Dueling Banjos, The Broadcasters Hall of Fame (North Carolina Association of Broadcasters) (1990), South Carolina Hall of Fame (1998), North Carolina Folk Heritage Award (1998), Lifetime Achievement Award from the South Carolina Broadcasting Association (2006), BMI Legendary Songwriters Award (2006) and induction into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame (2010).
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