Friday, June 14, 2013

Johnny Smith, R. I. P.

Johnny Smith, Revered Guitar Player, Has Died : The Record : NPR: The man who wrote the surf guitar anthem "Walk, Don't Run" has died. Guitarist Johnny Smith died Tuesday night at his Colorado home of natural causes. He would have been 91 years old on June 25. 

Smith's tune was a Top 10 hit for The Ventures — twice. The group's 1960 recording hit No. 2. They re-recorded it in '64 and that version got up to No. 8 — at that time, the first occurrence of the same song by the same group cracking the Top 10 twice. The Ventures never heard the songwriter's '54 recording of "Walk, Don't Run." Instead, they took their version from a '57 Chet Atkins record. Chet, being the Southern gentleman that he was, asked Smith's permission after one of Smith's shows at the celebrated jazz venue Birdland in New York City. Smith readily agreed but Atkins insisted the composer hear his arrangement of it. So he played it on Smith's guitar in his dressing room.

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