Arthur Smith, 'Dueling Banjos' Writer, Dead at 93

Arthur Smith
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Portrait of Arthur 'Guitar Boogie' Smith

Arthur Smith, a multi-instrumentalist whose song "Feudin' Banjos" later became known as the popular "Dueling Banjos," has died. He was 93.

According to the Charlotte Observer, Smith, a Charlotte, N.C., resident, passed away April 3 of natural causes, just two days after his 93rd birthday.

Given the moniker "Guitar Boogie" to differentiate him from Fiddlin' Arthur Smith after hitting gold with a song of the same name in 1945 (the tune was played by a young Paul McCartney in his Liverpool audition for what later became the Beatles), Smith wrote "Feudin' Banjos" 10 years later as a banjo instrumental. The composition later famously appeared in the 1972 film "Deliverance," for which Smith was not properly credited -- leading to a lawsuit that eventually yielded him royalties and a songwriting credit.

In addition to his musical prowess, Smith hosted a variety show "Carolina Calling" on Charlotte's WBTV station, with a nationally syndicated TV show, "The Arthur Smith Show," following. The latter was the first of its kind in the country music world.

From his homebase of Charlotte, Smith also enacted the first commercial recording studio in the Southeast, a studio that produced, among others, James Brown's "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag."

Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, Willie Nelson and Roy Orbison are among the dozens of artists who covered his material at some time.