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Carl Smith
Background information
Birth name Carl Milton Smith
Also known as Mister Country
Born March 15, 1927(1927-03-15)
Origin Maynardville, Tennessee, U.S.
Died January 16, 2010 (aged 82)
Genres country, rockabilly
Occupations singer, songwriter
Instruments guitar, string bass
Years active 1942–1983
Labels Columbia Records
Hickory Records
Associated acts Hank Snow, Marty Robbins, June Carter

Carl Milton Smith (March 15, 1927–January 16, 2010) was an American country music singer. Known as "Mister Country," Smith was the husband of June Carter (later June Carter Cash) and Goldie Hill, the drinking companion of Johnny Cash, and the father of Carlene Carter. He was one of country's most successful male artists during the 1950s, with 30 Top 10 Billboard hits, including 21 in a row. His success continued well into the 1970s, when he had a charting single every year except one. He is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.




Early career

A native of Maynardville, Tennessee, Carl Smith aspired to a musical career after hearing the Grand Ole Opry on the radio. He mowed neighbors' lawns to pay for guitar lessons as a teenager.[1][2] At age 15, he started performing in a band called Kitty Dibble and Her Dude Ranch Ranglers. By age 17, he had learned to play the string bass and spent his summer vacation working at WROL-AM in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he performed on Cas Walker's radio show.[3]

After graduating from high school, he served in the U.S. Navy from 1944–47. He returned to WROL and played string bass for country singers Molly O'Day and Skeets Williamson, and began his singing career. A colleague at the station sent an acetate disc recording of Smith to WSM-AM and the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, and WSM soon signed him. In 1950, Smith was signed to a recording contract with Columbia Records by producer Don Law.[3]

Success in the 1950s

In 1951, his song "Let's Live A Little" was a big hit, reaching number two on country chart. During 1951 he had up three other hits, including "If The Teardrops Were Pennies" and his first No. 1 hit, "Let Old Mother Nature Have Her Way".[3] The songs made Smith a well-known name in country music. His band, the Tunesmiths, featured steel guitarist Johnny Silbert, who added an element of Western swing.[2]

In 1952, Smith married June Carter (who later became the wife of Johnny Cash), the daughter of Maybelle Carter of the Carter Family. In 1955 the couple had a daughter, Rebecca Smith, who later became known as Carlene Carter, a country singer in her own right.[3]

During the rest of the 1950s, Smith made regular appearances on Billboard's country charts, racking up many hits, including 30 in the Top 10. His biggest hits include "Loose Talk", "Wicked Lies", "Hey Joe!" and "You Are The One". He only had five number one hits in his career; "Loose Talk" was his last, in 1955.

Some of his songs had sharp edges, fast phrasing and a strong drumbeat, similar to rockabilly material making the charts in the mid-50s, which in some ways made Smith's music closer to rock & roll than country. Some of his songs did, however, make the pop charts. His biggest pop entry was the song "Ten Thousand Drums" in 1959, which reached No. 43 on the pop chart.

In 1956, Smith quit the Grand Ole Opry, moved to California and appeared in several movies. Soon after, he joined The Phillip Morris Country Music Show and spent more than a year touring the United States, often in direct competition with touring Opry shows. He also made regular appearances on ABC-TV's Ozark Jubilee and was a fill-in host for Red Foley.

In 1957, Smith and June Carter divorced. That same year, he married country music singer Goldie Hill, best known for the number one hit "I Let the Stars Get In My Eyes". Goldie retired from the music business. By the late 50s, Smith's success began to dwindle on the country charts, and soon his string of Top 10s turned into Top 20 hits.

Later years

By the 1960s, Smith's success as a country singer began to slow. His Top 20 hits included "Air Mail To Heaven" in 1962 and "Take My Ring Off Your Finger" in 1964. His biggest hit of the decade was "Deep Water" in 1967, which peaked at number 10 and became his first Top 10 in 8 years (and his final Top 10 appearance). In 1961, he was one of five rotating hosts on the NBC summer television series Five Star Jubilee. He also hosted Carl Smith's Country Music Hall in Canada, a series syndicated in the United States.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Smith incorporated more Western swing into much of his recorded material. He remained with Columbia Records for almost 25 years, leaving in 1975 to sign with Hickory Records. By this time his singles were barely making the charts.

Thanks to his real estate and song publishing investments, he decided to retire from the music business in the late 1970s,[2] but in 1983, he recorded an album for the Gusto label. In 2003, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.


His wife Goldie died in 2005. Smith, who lived on a 500-acre horse farm in Franklin, south of Nashville, followed her in January of 2010. The cause of death was natural causes. He was survived by two sons and a daughter.[2]



Year Album US Country Label
1955 Carl, Lefty and Marty (w/ Lefty Frizzell & Marty Robbins) Columbia
Carl Smith
1956 Sentimental Songs by Carl Smith
Softly and Tenderly
1957 Sunday Down South
Smith's the Name
1958 Let's Live a Little
1960 The Carl Smith Touch
1961 Easy to Please
1962 Carl Smith's Greatest Hits
1963 The Tall, Tall Gentleman 12
1964 Carl Smith's Best
There Stands the Glass 9
1965 Walkin' Tall
I Want to Live and Love
Kisses Don't Lie
1966 Man with a Plan 18
1967 Satisfaction Guaranteed
A Gentleman in Love
The Country Gentleman 22
The Carl Smith Special: The Country Gentleman Sings His Favorites 34
1968 Deep Water 28
Country On My Mind 42
1969 Take It Like a Man
Faded Love and Winter Roses 23
Carl Smith's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 40
Carl Smith Sings a Tribute to Roy Acuff 48
1970 Carl and the Tunesmiths
I Love You Because 44
The Carl Smith Anniversary Album: 20 Years of Hits 34
1971 Sings Bluegrass
1972 Don't Say You're Mine 34
If This Is Goodbye 28
1975 The Way I Lose My Mind 47 Hickory/MGM
The Girl That I Love
1977 This Lady Loving Me
1978 Silver Tongued Cowboy
1980 Greatest Hits Gusto
1982 The Legendary


Year Single Chart Positions Album
US Country CAN Country
1951 "Let's Live A Little" 2 Carl Smith
1952 "Let Old Mother Nature Have Her Way" 1
"(When You Feel Like You're in Love) Don't Just Stand There" 1 Essential Carl Smith
"Are You Teasing Me" 1
1953 "Hey Joe" 1
1954 "Back Up Buddy" 2 single only
1955 "Don't Tease Me" 11 Satisfaction Guaranteed
"Loose Talk" 1 This Lady Loving Me
"More Than Anything Else In The World" 5 Satisfaction Guaranteed
"Old Lonesome Times" 11
"There She Goes" 3 The Essential Carl Smith
"Wait A Little Longer, Please Jesus" 12 Satisfaction Guaranteed
1956 "Before I Met You" 6
"Doorstep To Heaven" 6
1957 "You Are The One" 3 The Essential Carl Smith
1959 "Ten Thousand Drums"A 5
1962 "Air Mail To Heaven" 11 Carl Smith's Columbia Hits of the 60's
1964 "Take My Ring Off Your Finger" 15 Carl Smith's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2
1967 "Deep Water" 10 Deep Water
1968 "Foggy River" 18
1969 "Faded Love And Winter Roses" 25 37 Faded Love And Winter Roses
"Good Deal Lucille" 18
"I Love You Because" 14
1970 "Pull My String And Wind Me Up" 18 Carl Smith and the Tunesmiths
"How I Love Them Old Songs" 20 46
1971 "Red Door" 21 Don't Say You're Mine
1972 "Don't Say You're Mine" 34
1975 "The Way I Lose My Mind" 67 The Way I Lose My Mind
"Roly Poly" 97
1976 "If You Don't, Somebody Else Will" 97 A Way With Words
"A Way With Words" 98
1977 "Show Me A Brick Wall" 96 50 This Lady Loving Me
1978 "This Lady Loving Me" 81

A"Ten Thousand Drums" also peaked at No. 43 on the Billboard Hot 100.



  • Pugh, Ronnie. (1998). "Carl Smith". In The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Paul Kingsbury, Editor. New York: Oxford University Press. pp.489-90.

External links


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