Jazz Musician. Known as the "Emperor of the Hammond B-3 Organ," he is credited with creating the distinctive sound of "soul jazz." He played piano in local R&B groups in the late 1940s and early '50s buying his first Hammond B-3 in 1954. He formed his first trio in September 1955, playing in the Philadelphia area. His debut in New York at the Club Bohemia in 1956, lead to performances at Birdland in New York City and to the Newport Jazz Festival. He signed to a record deal with Blue Note, his first album, "A New Sound, A New Star: Jimmy Smith at the Organ," was a number 1 Jazz hit. He recorded 30 albums for Blue Note before leaving in 1962, to record for Verve Records into the 1970s with many albums being bestsellers that included big bands and the arrangements of Oliver Nelson. He continued to record and tour for the next two decades. At the time of his death, he was preparing for a national tour to promote his latest album, “Legacy” on Concord Records.
Bio by: John "J-Cat" Griffith
Edna Joy Smith