John Robert Smith, 16 December 1933, Louisville, Kentucky USA, 4 June 1997, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Not be confused with the legendary swing promoter and talent spotter John Hammond Jnr. , Johnny Hammond Smith (sometimes known simply as Johnny Hammond) is one of the giants of the soul jazz Hammond organ. Born the year the instrument was invented, he studied piano, trying to emulate the intricate jazz styles of Art Tatum and Bud Powell, before devoting himself to the Hammond during the 50s. His naturally funky approach and feel for the instrument established him as one of the leaders in a movement of bluesy, soul jazz organists who were mixing the sound of church gospel and hard-bop; and he began recording sessions under his own name for the Prestige (throughout the 60s) and, later, Kudu labels. Later in his career he added a range of synthesised and electronic sounds to his palette, but he remains most associated with the original Hammond. Recent years witnessed a resurgence in popularity for the Hammond in jazz, and the soul jazz genre in general, and Smith became in demand in the studio and on the international jazz circuit. He died of cancer in June 1997.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.