BMI is saddened by the recent passing of longtime BMI affiliate, Dr. Lonnie Smith, who was renowned for his incredible talent as an organist after first laying hands on a Hammond as a teen. In short time, Smith captured the attention of such greats as BMI affiliate George Benson, whose albums It’s Uptown and The George Benson Cookbook Smith became a part of before securing his initial place on the Blue Note label. The burgeoning gospel, blues and jazz artist’s album, Think!, debuted in 1968 with subsequent albums, Turning Point, Move Your Hand, Drives and Live at Club Mozambique now considered classics. During his storied career, Smith landed DownBeat’s prestigious Organist of the Year award in addition to many other accolades including being named one of the NEA’s 2017 Jazz Masters, the highest honor bestowed upon a jazz musician. As an influencer, Smith’s music was widely sampled across the dance and hip-hop genres with his final studio album, Breathe, released earlier this year.
Smith will be remembered fondly for all his outstanding contributions to the world of jazz and beyond.