November 23, 2010
- RIP Little Smokey Smothers - Jan 2, 1938 to Nov. 20, 2010. Chicago blues guitarist / vocalist Abe "Little Smokey" Smothers passed away on November, 20th after a long bout of bad health, due to complications with diabetes. He was 71 years old. Little Smokey was the younger brother of Otis "Big Smokey" Smothers, with whom he is sometimes confused. A spectacular guitarist and vocalist, Little Smokey played in a more modern blues style than his older brother, who was pure downhome blues. The following bio is quoted verbatim from Wikipedia.
"Little Smokey Smothers (born Albert Smothers, January 2, 1939, Tchula, Mississippi) is an African American, Chicago blues guitarist and singer. Albert "Abe" Smothers learned guitar at the age of 15, and relocated to Chicago two years later. He soon appeared on stage playing alongside Arthur “Big Boy” Spires, Magic Sam, Otis Rush and Lazy Bill Lucas. In 1958 he joined up with Howlin' Wolf, and played on Wolf's recording session for Chess Records the following year. Tracks Smothers contributed to included "I've Been Abused," "Howlin' for My Darling," and "Mr. Airplane Man."
In 1961 he founded Little Smokey Smothers and the Pipeplayers. He later met Paul Butterfield and became a founding member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. He was replaced in the band by Elvin Bishop, but developed a friendship that lasted a lifetime. Throughout the 1960s Smothers appeared withBuddy Guy, James Cotton, Earl Hooker, and Junior Wells. Musical opportunities dried up in the 1970s, and Smothers worked in construction. He re-appeared in the 1980s with The Legendary Blues Band. Their 1989 recording, Woke up with the Blues, included contributions from Smothers.
In 1993, Bishop made a guest appearance on Smothers first solo album with the Dutch Black Magiclabel, Bossman! The Chicago Blues of Little Smokey Smothers. The recording also included work from Smothers' cousin, Lee "Shot" Williams. Bishop and Smothers played at the 1993 Chicago Blues Festival. Smothers had open heart surgery in 1995, but the following year issued Second Time Around. Smothers performed at the 1999 San Diego Blues Festival, and at a party for Mick Jagger's 55th birthday.Alligator Records then issued That's My Partner (2000), a live album recorded in San Francisco, which saw Smothers reunited with Bishop. Smothers also appeared at the 2000 Chicago Blues Festival. In 2006 Smothers and Bishop played live at the Ground Zero club in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Latterly Smothers experienced health problems, and had both legs amputated due to diabetes.In 2009, Bishop compiled the benefit album, Chicago Blues Buddies, incorporating recordings made by Smothers and Bishop dating back to 1992. Proceeds from the album helped to pay for Smothers' medical costs. On Saturday, November 20, 2010, after a 3 1/2 week long stay in a Chicago hospital, Albert "Little Smokey" Smothers passed away due to complications of long-term illnesses."
A few items not mentioned in the Wikipedia bio were Little Smokey's´ participation in the albums Mojo Buford´s Chicago Blues Summit (produced by Steve Wisner for Mr. Blues Records), and American Blues Legends 1979 (on Big Bear Records). Also he and his brother were the cover story for an issue ofLiving Blues magazine during the 1970s titled "The Smothers Brothers Of The Blues". Smokey was a true champion and he will be greatly missed in the Chicago blues scene. God bless you Smokey.