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Johnny Smith

Biography

Johnny Smith was a cool-toned jazz guitarist whose light touch and melodic solos were matched by a deep technical mastery of his instrument. This winning combination gave Smith a unique sound and endeared him to the public and his fellow musicians alike, placing him on the shortlist of lead guitar pioneers, along with Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt, Les Paul and Barney Kessel. Smith, with Stan Getz's help, landed a big chart hit in 1953 with his take on the standard "Moonlight In Vermont." Even though he went on to enjoy success throughout the decade, by the 1960s he tired of the jazz life and went into teaching, popping up occasionally to cut a new album. He also wrote "Walk, Don't Run," which became a huge hit for The Ventures, one of many 1960s rock bands to name the introspective musician as an inspiration for exploring what can be achieved on the guitar.
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