Roy Smeck Biography

1900, USA, d. 1994. A virtuoso player of the guitar, Hawaiian guitar, banjo, mandolin and ukulele, Roy Smeck began playing stringed instruments at the age of 14. During his long career he released over 500 records from 1921 onwards. Touring the vaudeville circuit as a solo act proficient in a number of instruments, he never sang, regaling his audiences instead with novelty dances. He was a capable enough musician to play various instruments behind his back and on top of his head, which added to the spectacle. His main breakthrough came in the world of film. In 1926, playing ukulele and harmonica, he recorded the first ‘sound’ movie, Vidaphone, for Warner Brothers Records. Later he was the first musician to produce a multiple-track recording for a cinema soundtrack - for a Paramount film which featured four of his songs played on a split screen. It earned him the accolade ‘King Of The Strings’. Smeck never fully retired from playing, and was still teaching music when he died aged 94.

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

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