Huey Piano Smith

Huey Pierce Smith, known as Huey “Piano” Smith (born January 26, 1934, New Orleans, Louisiana), is an American rhythm-and-blues pianistwhose sound was influential in the development of rock and roll.

His piano playing incorporated the boogie styles of Pete Johnson, Meade Lux Lewis, and Albert Ammons, the jazz style of Jelly Roll Morton and the rhythm-and-blues style of Fats Domino. Steve Huey of AllMusic noted that “At the peak of his game, Smith epitomized New Orleans R&B at its most infectious and rollicking, as showcased on his classic signature tune, ‘Don’t You Just Know It.'”

Smith was born in the Central City neighborhood of New Orleans. He was influenced by the innovative work of Professor Longhair. He became known for his shuffling right-handed break on the piano that influenced other Southern players.

Smith wrote his first song “Robertson Street Boogie”, named after the street where he lived, on the piano, when he was eight years old. He performed the tune with a friend, with the two billing themselves as Slick and Dark. Smith attended McDowell High School and Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans.

When Smith was fifteen, he began working in clubs and recording with his flamboyant partner, Eddie Jones, who rose to fame as Guitar Slim. When Smith was eighteen, in 1952, he signed a recording contract with Savoy Records, which released his first known single, “You Made Me Cry”. In 1953 Smith recorded with Earl King.

In 1955, Smith became the piano player with Little Richard‘s first band in sessions for Specialty Records. The same year he also played piano on several studio sessions for other artists, such as Lloyd Price. Two of the sessions resulted in hits for Earl King (“Those Lonely Lonely Nights”) and Smiley Lewis (“I Hear You Knocking“).

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