This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (November 2011)
|Birth name||John Robert Smith|
|Also known as||Johnny Hammond|
December 16, 1933|
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
|Died||June 4, 1997
John Robert "Johnny Hammond" Smith (December 16, 1933 – June 4, 1997) was an American soul jazz and hard bop organist. Born in Louisville, Kentucky, he was a renowned player of the Hammond B-3 organ so earning "Hammond" as a nickname, which also avoided his being confused with jazz guitarist Johnny Smith.
Smith played with Paul Williams and Chris Columbo before forming his own group. His bands featured singers Etta Jones, Byrdie Green, saxophonists Houston Person, Earl Edwards, guitarists Eddie McFadden, Floyd Smith, James Clark, vibist Freddie McCoy. His career took off as he was serving as accompanist to singer Nancy Wilson. One of his last accomplishments also included Nancy Wilson. He wrote the song "Quiet Fire" for her Nancy Now! release in 1988.
After a 10-year spell on Prestige Records throughout the 1960s resulting in a series of albums, he signed for soul/R&B influenced Kudu imprint of Creed Taylor's well-regarded CTI Records jazz record label in 1971. His first album for Taylor, Break Out was chosen that year to launch Kudu. The album featured Grover Washington Jr. as a sideman prior to the launch of his career as a solo recording artist. Three further albums followed with Taylor on Kudu, as he decided to refer to himself as "Johnny Hammond", after deciding to drop "Smith" from his name.
His style had become increasingly funky as he adapted to the style changes in music, culminating in two popular albums with the Mizell Brothers, Gambler's Life (1974) for the CTI offshoot, Salvation and then in 1975, Gears after switching to another jazz label, Milestone Records. He began using electric and acoustic pianos, starting with Gambler's Life, in addition to his signature instrument. Hammond's song "Shifting Gears" was featured on the breakbeat compilation Ultimate Breaks and Beats, and was also featured in the soundtrack of the 2006 video game Driver: Parallel Lines as well.
Smith also taught at the Cal Poly Pomona music department for several years, beginning in January 1987.
With Gene Ammons
With Billy Butler
With Chris Columbus
With Oliver Nelson
With Sylvia Syms
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