Artist known for his trademark Hammond B3 organ.

Legendary Hammond B-3 organ player Jimmy Smith died yesterday (Feb. 8) at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., apparently of natural causes. He was 79.

Smith began playing his trademark Hammond B3 organ in the early '50s. By the '60s, he was both a workhorse and a frequent name on the Billboard album chart, thanks to such titles as "Organ Grinder Swing" and "Hobo Flats." Smith became forever linked to a new generation of listeners after the Beastie Boys sampled his "Root Down" for their track of the same name on the 1994 album "Ill Communication."

The artist continued to record and tour in recent years, and recently completed an album with longtime friend Joey DeFrancesco, "Legacy," due next Tuesday via Concord. The pair were planning to begin a tour in support of the set Feb. 16 at Yoshi's in Oakland, Calif.

"Jimmy was one of the greatest and most innovative musicians of our time," DeFrancesco said in a statement. "I love the man and I love the music. He was my idol, my mentor and my friend."