Dr. Lonnie Smith, RIP
Legendary organist Dr. Lonnie Smith has passed away at 79 years old. NPR reports:
Dr. Lonnie Smith, an NEA Jazz Master known for his dynamism and wizardry on the Hammond B3 organ, died Tuesday. He was 79 years old.
His death was confirmed on Twitter by Blue Note Records. A spokesperson for the label said the cause of death was pulmonary fibrosis, a form of lung disease.
Smith was one of the most unique Hammond stylists to emerge from the golden era of 1960s organ ensembles, a scene that had its roots in Black American neighborhood venues. Early in his career, he was lauded for his work in guitarist George Benson's first quartet and subsequently for his involvement with saxophonist Lou Donaldson's groups.
Musically, Smith wove an other-worldly and soulful tapestry that joined relentlessly grooving bass lines with stirring melodies and harmonies. As a band leader and performer, Smith had a spirited and visceral performance style that allowed him to garner fans around the world.
Smith's career began in the 1960s, and he stayed active and prolific his entire life, most recently releasing the Don Was-produced album Breathe (featuring Iggy Pop) on Blue Note Records earlier this year. Don Was also shared a tribute, writing, "Doc was a musical genius who possessed a deep, funky groove and a wry, playful spirit. His mastery of the drawbars was equaled only by the warmth in his heart. He was a beautiful guy and all of us at Blue Note loved him a lot."
Rest in peace, Dr. Lonnie Smith.
More tributes and some videos below...