Lonnie Smith was born in Buffalo, NY in 1953. Musically inspired at a young age, he started with a trumpet, but created his first vocal group in high school called The Supremes. His first exposure to the Hammond organ was in church and through the hits of Bill Doggett and Jimmy Smith. After getting his hands on Midnight Special, he tried every time he could to learn everything about that organ.
Lonnie would practice every day at Art Kubero's music store. Finally, while in NYC, Lonnie sat in with the Jack McDuff Quartet with George Benson. When Benson left to form his own group, he asked Lonnie to be his organist. Jimmy Boyd, who signed Benson, saw Lonnie playing at Small's, and came up to him and told him to show up the following day for a recording session with Grant Green.
Lonnie never went, as he felt he wasn't ready to be playing with someone of the caliber of Grant. After playing with Benson for a while, and recording a few albums for Columbia with him, Lou Donaldson asked both of them in on the Alligator Bogaloo session. From then on, Lonnie was thrilled to be associated with Blue Note for 4-5 years.
After his only release as a leader for Columbia, Lonnie recorded four albums as a leader for Blue Note, as well as appearing as a sideman on many other releases. This association ended when Frank Wolff died, after which Lonnie recorded many albums for Sonny Lester.
His 1971 Mama Wailer is a Jazz-Funk classic. His Afrodesia (LRC, 1977) with Benson, Randy Brecker & Steve Gadd among others has some interesting compositions and arrangements. Watch out: many stores and discographies mistake him for Lonnie "Liston" Smith and only have one bin for both.
"Dr." Lonnie Smith recently recorded three albums with John Abercrombie and Marvin "Smitty" Smith. Two are tributes to Jimi Hendrix: Purple Haze and Foxy Lady (which, according to Abercrombie, were supposed to be one album); one a tribute to John Coltrane: Afro Blue.
In 1995, Blue Note released, as part of their Rare Groove Series, a previoulsy unreleased live recording with Dave Hubbard, George Benson, Ronnie Cuber and Joe Dukes. Live At Club Mozambique has quickly become a favorite among Jazz organ fans.
Besides continuing to record and tour with Lou Donaldson, and recording as a sideman to help out local artists, he was just featured on two all-star recordings from Hip Bop's Essence series: Organic Grooves with Joey DeFrancesco, Kenny Garrett and Lenny White, and the new BongoBop with Reuben Wilson, Doug Carn and Joey DeFrancesco.
|Leader||Title||Date||Label||LP Issue||CD Issue|
|Adams Johnny||One Foot in the Blues||1996||Rounder||2144|
|Baker Brad||B. Baker Chocolate||1979||LRC||9325|
|Beck Joe||Back To Beck||1988||DMP||464|
|Benson George||It's Uptown||1966||Columbia||CS 9325||CK 52976|
|Benson George||George Benson Cookbook||1966||Columbia||CS 9413||CK 52977|
|Benson George||Benson Burner||1967||CBS||CG 33589|
|Benson George||Willow Weep For Me (Do You Like Jazz? series #19)||1973||Dutch CBS||63533|
|Benson George||Spiritual To Swing (Live)||19??||Columbia||?|
|Chartbusters||Chartbusters!||1995||NYC Records||6017 2|
|Compilations||The Organ Giants||1965||Prestige||7778|
|Compilations||The Best of Jazz Organ||?||LRC||CDC 9006|
|Cuber Ronnie||Live At The Blue Note||1985||Pro Jazz||629|
|Donaldson Lou||Alligator Bogaloo||4/17/67||Blue Note||BST 84263||7 84263 2|
|Donaldson Lou||Mr. Shing A' Ling||10/27/67||Blue Note||BST 84271||7 84271 2|
|Donaldson Lou||Midnight Creeper||3/15/68||Blue Note||BST 84280|
|Donaldson Lou||Everything I Play Is Funky||1/9/70||Blue Note||BST 84337||8 31248 2|
|Donaldson Lou||Pretty Things||1/9/70||Blue Note||BST 84359||7 89794 2|
|Donaldson Lou||Play The Right Thing||12/20/90||Milestone||9190-2|
|Donaldson Lou||Sentimental Journey||1995||Columbia||CK 66790|
|Essence All Stars||Organic Grooves||1/15/96||Hip Bop / Silva Screen||HIBD 8010|
|Essence All Stars||BongoBop||11/15/96||Hip Bop / Silva Screen||HIBD 8017|
|Gale Eric||In A Jazz Tradition||1987||Emarcy||836 369-1|
|Hart Richie||Remembering Wes||1988-89||Blue Flame||40222|
|Holloway Red||Red Soul||1965||Prestige||7473|
|Jazz Funk Masters w/ Dr. Lonnie Smith||Live Jam!||5/12/92||P-Vine||2401|
|Jones Jesse Jr.||Soul Serenade||1996||Contemporary||14082-2|
|Martin John Spider||Live At The Breakers||?||?||?|
|Mauro Turk||Hittin' The Jug||1995||Milestone||9246|
|McGriff Jimmy||State of the Art||1985||Milestone||9135|
|Mustafa Melton - Orchestra||Boiling Point||1996||Contemporary||14075-2|
|Myers Terry||Soul Mates||1996||Contemporary||14078-2|
|Nakumura Teruo||Rising Sun||1976||Kitty||MFK 1004|
|Page Nathan||The Other Page||1991||Hugo||HMS 111|
|Ponder Jimmy 'Fats'||So Many Stars||1984||Milestone||9132|
|Ponder Jimmy 'Fats'||To Reach A Dream||1988||Muse||5394|
|Ponder Jimmy||Come On Down||9/27/90||Muse||5375|
|Secret Agent Men w/ Dr. Lonnie Smith||Secret Agent Men||1992||Paddle Wheel||KICJ 135|
|Smith Lonnie||Finger Lickin' Good||1967||Columbia||CS 9496|
|Smith Lonnie||Think!||7/23/68||Blue Note||BST 84290||7 84290 2|
|Smith Lonnie||Turning Point||1969||Blue Note||BST 84313|
|Smith Lonnie||Move Your Hand||8/9/69||Blue Note||BST 84326||8 31249 2 3|
|Smith Lonnie||Drives||1/2/70||Blue Note||BST 84351||8 28266 2 0|
|Smith Lonnie||Live At Club Mozambique||5/21/70||Blue Note||8 31880 2 4|
|Smith Lonnie||Mama Wailer||1971||Kudu||02|
|Smith Lonnie||Afrodesia||6/15/77||Groove Merchant||GM 3308|
|Smith Lonnie||Afrodesia (& When the Night is Right)||1977||LRC||CDC 9079|
|Smith Lonnie||Keep on Loving||1977||Groove Merchant||GM 3312|
|Smith Lonnie||Funk Reaction||1977||LRC||LRC 9317|
|Smith Lonnie||Gotcha||1978||LRC||LRC 9323|
|Smith Lonnie||When the Night is Right||1979||Chirouscuio||CR 2019|
|Smith Lonnie||Lonnie Smith (Gotcha / Funk Reaction)||1991||LRC||CDC 9032|
|Smith Lonnie||Afro Blue||6/17/93||Venus||TKCV-79022|
|Smith Lonnie||Purple Haze - Hendrix Tribute||3/20/94||Venus||TKCV-79055|
|Smith Lonnie||Foxy Lady - Hendrix Tribute||3/19/94||Venus||TKCV-79053|
|Smith Lonnie||Lonnie Smith-George Benson||19??||Europa Jazz||EJ 1025|
|Smith Lonnie with Alvin Queen||Lenox & Seventh Avenue||1985||Black & Blue||BB 33178|
|Various||Shades Of Red||12/3/94||Somethin' Else||TOCJ-5578|