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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

St. Louis Blues Legend Bennie Smith Dies


Bennie Smith, known as the dean of St. Louis electric blues guitarists, died
Sunday evening (Sept. 10, 2006) after suffering a heart attack Saturday,
according to John May, chairman of the St. Louis Blues Society.
He was 72.

Born in St. Louis in October 1933, Mr. Smith was the seventh son in a family of
14. He went on to become known as a leading electric blues guitarist who played
with several artists, including Chuck Berry, Ike Turner, Big Bad Smitty and
Johnnie Johnson.

"Bennie Smith was one of the last of the blues/rhythm and blues legends of his
generation," May said. "I was happy to see that he was at the top of his world
last week at the blues festival."

Mr. Smith remained active in music throughout most of his life, playing guitar
in the Bennie Smith & the Urban Express blues bands and performing regularly at
bars, clubs and blues festivals in the region. His most recent performance was
earlier this month at the Big Muddy Blues Festival on Laclede's Landing.

At the festival, on Sept. 2, Mayor Francis Slay proclaimed the day "Bennie
Smith Day" in St. Louis. The city's Board of Alderman also recognized him as
the dean of St. Louis electric guitarists.

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