Carl Smith (country musician)

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Carl Smith
Carl Smith (country singer).JPG
c. 1960
Background information
Birth nameCarl Milton Smith
Also known asMister Country
Born(1927-03-15)March 15, 1927
OriginMaynardville, Tennessee, U.S.
DiedJanuary 16, 2010(2010-01-16) (aged 82)
Franklin, Tennessee
Genrescountry, rockabilly
Occupation(s)singer, songwriter
Instrumentsguitar, string bass
Years active1942–1983
LabelsColumbia Records
Hickory Records
Associated actsHank Snow, Marty Robbins, June Carter
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This article is about the musician. For the computer scientist, see Carl Herbert Smith. For the ice hockey player, see Carl Smith (ice hockey).
Carl Smith
Carl Smith (country singer).JPG
c. 1960
Background information
Birth nameCarl Milton Smith
Also known asMister Country
Born(1927-03-15)March 15, 1927
OriginMaynardville, Tennessee, U.S.
DiedJanuary 16, 2010(2010-01-16) (aged 82)
Franklin, Tennessee
Genrescountry, rockabilly
Occupation(s)singer, songwriter
Instrumentsguitar, string bass
Years active1942–1983
LabelsColumbia Records
Hickory Records
Associated actsHank Snow, Marty Robbins, June Carter

Carl Milton Smith (March 15, 1927 – January 16, 2010) was an American country music singer.[1][2][3] Known as "Mister Country," Smith was the husband of June Carter (later June Carter Cash) and Goldie Hill, 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. Smith's 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[edit]

A native of Maynardville, Tennessee, Carl Smith aspired to a musical career after hearing the Grand Ole Opry on the radio. He sold seed to pay for guitar lessons as a teenager.[4][5] 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.[6]

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.[6]

Success in the 1950s[edit]

In 1951, his song "Let's Live a Little" was a big hit, reaching No. 2 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".[6] 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.[5]

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 Carlene Smith, who later became known as Carlene Carter, a country singer in her own right.[6]

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 had five No. 1 hits in his career; "Loose Talk" was his last, in 1955. "Hey Joe!" got to Number 1 in the UK Singles Chart for Frankie Laine in October 1953 for two weeks.

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 and 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. 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 Jubilee USA and was a fill-in host for Red Foley.

In 1957, Smith and June Carter divorced. That same year, he appeared in the movie, The Badge of Marshal Brennan and Buffalo Guns, and married country music singer Goldie Hill, best known for the No. 1 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[edit]

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 No. 10 and became his first top 10 in eight years (and his final top 10 appearance). In 1961, he was one of five rotating hosts on the NBC television series Five Star Jubilee. He also hosted Carl Smith's Country Music Hall in Canada, a series syndicated in the United States. Smith appeared on The Jimmy Dean Show on April 9, 1964.

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. He appeared in the Hawaii Five-O episode, "Man on Fire", first aired on October 21, 1976.

Thanks to his real estate and song publishing investments, he decided to retire from the music business in the late 1970s to concentrate on his second passion, raising horses for cutting,[5] 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 (2.0 km2) horse farm in Franklin, south of Nashville, followed her in January 2010. The cause of death was natural causes. He was survived by two sons, Carl, Jr. and Larry Dean; and two daughters, Carlene and Lori Lynn.[5]



YearAlbumUS CountryLabel
1955Carl, Lefty and Marty (w/ Lefty Frizzell & Marty Robbins)Columbia
Carl Smith
1956Sentimental Songs by Carl Smith
Softly and Tenderly
1957Sunday Down South
Smith's the Name
1958Let's Live a Little
1960The Carl Smith Touch
1961Easy to Please
1962Carl Smith's Greatest Hits
1963The Tall, Tall Gentleman12
1964Carl Smith's Best
There Stands the Glass9
1965Walkin' Tall
I Want to Live and Love
Kisses Don't Lie
1966Man with a Plan18
1967Satisfaction Guaranteed
A Gentleman in Love
The Country Gentleman22
The Carl Smith Special: The Country Gentleman Sings His Favorites34
1968Deep Water28
Country On My Mind42
1969Take It Like a Man
Faded Love and Winter Roses23
Carl Smith's Greatest Hits, Vol. 240
Carl Smith Sings a Tribute to Roy Acuff48
1970Carl and the Tunesmiths
I Love You Because44
The Carl Smith Anniversary Album: 20 Years of Hits34
1971Sings Bluegrass
1972Don't Say You're Mine34
If This Is Goodbye28
1975The Way I Lose My Mind47Hickory/MGM
The Girl That I Love
1977This Lady Loving Me
1978Silver Tongued Cowboy
1980Greatest HitsGusto
1982The Legendary


YearSingleChart PositionsAlbum
US CountryUS
CAN Country
1950"I Overlooked and Orchid (While Searching For a Rose)"single only
1951"Let's Live a Little"2Let's Live a Little
"Mr. Moon"4
"If Teardrops Were Pennies"8
"Let Old Mother Nature Have Her Way"1Sentimental Songs
1952"(When You Feel Like You're in Love) Don't Just Stand There"1
"Me and My Broken Heart" (cover of Hank Williams song)-
"Are You Teasing Me"1
"It's a Lovely, Lovely World"5
"Our Honeymoon"6
1953"That's the Kind of Love I'm Looking For"9Carl Smith's Best
"Just Wait 'Til I Get You Alone"7
"Orchids Mean Goodbye"4Single only
"Trademark"2Satisfaction Guaranteed
"Do I Like It?"6Single only
"Hey Joe"1Greatest Hits
"Satisfaction Guaranteed"7Satisfaction Guaranteed
1954"Dog-Gone It, Baby, I'm in Love"7
"Back Up Buddy"2The Tall, Tall Gentleman
"Go, Boy, Go"4Carl Smith's Best
"Loose Talk"1Carl Smith
"More Than Anything Else in the World"5Single only
1955"Kisses Don't Lie"5Walkin' Tall
"No, I Don't Believe I Will"13Carl Smith's Best
"Wait a Little Longer Please, Jesue"12Sunday Down South
"There She Goes"3Carl Smith
"Old Lonesome Times"11Greatest Hits
"Don't Hate Me Cause I'm Beautiful (Pretty Girl Rock)"11Single only
"You're Free to Go"6Greatest Hits
"I Feel Like Cryin'"7Carl Smith
1956"I've Changed"11Single only
"You Are the One"4Greatest Hits
"Doorstep to Heaven"6
"Before I Met You"6The Tall, Tall Gentleman
"Wicked Lies"9Singles only
1957"You Can't Hurt Me Anymore"15
"Why, Why"2
1958"Your Name Is Beautiful"680
"Guess I've Been Around Too Long"93
"Walking the Slow Walk"28
1959"The Best Years of My Life"15Let's Live a Little
"It's All My Heartache"19Single only
"Ten Thousand Drums"543Walkin' Tall
"Tomorrow Night"24Singles only
1960"Make the Waterwheel Roll"30
"Cut Across Shorty"28The Carl Smith Touch
"If the World Don't End Tomorrow (I'm Comin' After You)"107Singles only
1961"You Make Me Live Again"29
"Kisses Never Lie"11
1962"Air Mail to Heaven"11The Tall, Tall Gentleman
"Things That Mean the Most"24Single only
"The Best Dressed Beggar (In Town)"16The Country Gentleman
1963"Live for Tomorrow"28The Tall, Tall Gentleman
"In the Back Room Tonight"17Single only
"I Almost Forgot Her Today"23The Country Gentleman
1964"The Pillow That Whispers"17
"Take My Ring Off Your Finger"15
"Lonely Girl"14
"When It's Over"26
1965"She Called Me Baby"32Kisses Don't Lie
"Keep Me Fooled"42Singles only
"Be Good to Her"33
"Let's Walk Away Strangers"36The Country Gentleman
1966"Why Do I Keep Doing This to Us"45Singles only
"Why Can't You Feel Sorry for Me"49
"Man with a Plan"42Man with a Plan
"You Better Be Better to Me"52Singles only
1967"It's Only a Matter of Time"65
"Mighty Day"68The Carl Smith Special
"I Should Get Away Awhile (From You)"54
"Deep Water"101Deep Water
1968"Foggy River"1815
"You Ought to Hear Me Cry"43Carl Smith's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2
"There's No More Love"48Single only
1969"Faded Love and Winter Roses"2537Faded Love And Winter Roses
"Good Deal Lucille"18I Love You Because
"I Love You Because"14
"Heartbreak Avenue"35The Carl Smith Anniversary Album
1970"Pull My String and Wind Me Up"18
"Pick Me Up on Your Way Down"46Carl Smith and the Tunesmiths
"Bonaparte's Retreat"flip
"How I Love Them Old Songs"2046Singles only
1971"Don't Worry 'bout the Mule (Just Load the Wagon)"44
"Lost It on the Road"43
"Red Door"21Don't Say You're Mine
"Don't Say You're Mine"34
1972"Mama Bear"46If This Is Goodbye
"If This Is Goodbye"54
1973"I Need Help"76Single only
1975"The Way I Lose My Mind"67The Way I Lose My Mind
"Roly Poly"97The Girl That I Love
1976"If You Don't, Somebody Else Will"97Single only
"A Way with Words"98This Lady Loving Me
1977"Show Me a Brick Wall"9650
"This Kinda Love Ain't Meant for Sunday School"84
1978"This Lady Loving Me"81


  1. ^ Obituary New York Times, January 19, 2010; page A29.
  2. ^ Obituary London Independent, 12 February 2010.
  3. ^ Obituary London Guardian, 21 April 2010.
  4. ^ Local country star Carl Smith dead at 82, (WVLT-TV), January 17, 2010
  5. ^ a b c d McArdle, Terrence (January 23, 2010). "'Country Gentleman' had 21 consecutive Top 10 hits". The Washington Post (Washington, DC). pp. B4. 
  6. ^ a b c d Cooper, Peter (January 17, 2010). "Country Music Hall of Famer Carl Smith dies at 82". The Tennessean. 
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2011). Top Pop Singles 1955–2010. Record Research, Inc. p. 825. ISBN 0-89820-188-8. 


External links[edit]