Albert "Little Smokey" Smothers
ELVIN BISHOP AND LITTLE SMOKEY SMOTHERS TO RELEASE THAT’S MY PARTNER!
Alligator Records has set an August 1, 2000, street date for That’s My Partner! (AL 4874), a barn-burning live album from guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Elvin Bishop and Bishop’s longtime friend and mentor, guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Little Smokey Smothers. This reunion marks 40 years since Smothers taught Bishop about the blues, how to play guitar, and, most importantly, about life as a bluesman. Without Smothers, Bishop’s career path would have been completely different.
Albert “Little Smokey” Smothers was born on January 2, 1939, in Tchula, Mississippi, and began playing guitar at 15. Two years later, Smothers moved to Chicago and shortly after landed gigs with Arthur “Big Boy” Spires, Magic Sam, Otis Rush and pianist “Lazy” Bill Lucas. In 1958, he joined Howlin’ Wolf and can be heard on Wolf classics such as I’ve Been Abused, Howlin’ For My Darlin’ and Mr. Airplane Man. Three years later, he formed Little Smokey Smothers and the Pipeplayers and, in Smothers’ words, “played nearly everything on the jukebox,” at the South Side’s Blue Flame, the Playhouse and Pepper’s Lounge.
It was around this time that Smothers met Bishop. The two became fast friends. “He was a young kid, trying to learn how to play,” recalls Smothers. “But he really wanted to learn. I thought he was something special because every time I would give him a note to play, he’d come back tomorrow, he’d be on it—that note. The next thing I know, he was really playing.”
After Bishop hooked up with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Smothers almost completely gave up music and took construction jobs to make money. Once his children matured, he rejoined the music scene with the Legendary Blues Band in the 1980s and has been regularly gigging ever since. In 1993, Bishop guested on Smothers’ very first album, Bossman!, on the Dutch Black Magic label. Open heart surgery sidelined Smothers for a spell in ‘95, but a year later, he released Second Time Around on the German Crosscut label.
Proving blues roots run deep, Bishop and Smothers finally join forces on Alligator Records to release That’s My Partner!, a blazing live album 40 years overdue. Smothers is the younger brother of Otis "Smokey' Smothers.
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More about Albert "Little Smokey" Smothers from the liner of That's My Partner.