Bluesman Bennie Smith dies at age 72
St. Louis, MO – Electric blues guitarist Bennie Smith died Sunday night at the age of 72. Smith played with several artists during his life, including Chuck Berry, Ike Turner, and Johnnie Johnson.
John May, with the St. Louis Blues Society, says Smith stands apart because he was actually born in St. Louis, unlike others from the south who came to the region to create a rhythm and blues sound called the "St. Louis sound."
May says Smith also mentored a lot of younger players and passed his music on to them. "A lot of musicians for a long time are still working those little riffs of his; you'll be able to hear him around town because a lot of guitar players picked it up from him over time and he shared it with them."
May says Smith was battling lung cancer and had just had treatment, but that he had a weak heart.
Bennie and the Urban Blues Express were regulars in recent years at clubs like BBs on Broadway. He also performed at the recent Big Muddy Blues Festival, where Bennie Smith Day also was proclaimed in St. Louis.