O.C. Smith Biography

Ocie Lee Smith, 21 June 1932, Mansfield, Louisiana, USA, d. 23 November 2001, Los Angeles, California, USA. O.C. Smith was raised in Los Angeles, where he began singing jazz and standards in clubs at the end of the 40s. After serving five years in the US Air Force, he signed with Cadence Records in 1956, enjoying some success the following year with the sophisticated ‘Lighthouse’. He remained predominantly a club performer until 1961, when he replaced Joe Williams in the Count Basie Band. He resumed his solo career in 1963, finally attaining a commercial breakthrough in 1968 with Dallas Frazier’s unusual story-song, ‘The Son Of Hickory Holler’s Tramp’, recorded at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, and a major hit in Britain. In the USA, this record was overshadowed by his rendition of Bobby Russell’s ‘Little Green Apples’, which outsold a rival hit version by Roger Miller. ‘Daddy’s Little Man’ in 1969 provided Smith’s final taste of US Top 40 success, though the soul-flavoured ‘La La Peace Song’ proved popular in 1974, and ‘Together’ was an unexpected chart entry in 1977. During the decade in which he was most successful, Smith issued a series of impressive albums that showcased his fluent, soulful vocal style. He spent the last 16 years of his life as a full-time minister at the City Of Angels Church Of Religious Science in Los Angeles.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.