Seminal '50s honky tonk stylist and Country Music Hall of Fame member Carl Smith, 82, died Saturday (Jan. 16) at his home near Nashville in Franklin, Tenn. The specific cause of death was not made public.
Smith was widely regarded as one of the most important and successful country music hitmakers of the postwar era, first appearing on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart in 1951 with "Let's Live a Little." His successful career spawned 31 top 10 hits during the 1950's, including five No. 1 songs including "Let Old Mother Nature Have Her Way," "Loose Talk" and "Hey, Joe!" Smith's success in country music played a large role in keeping country music solvent in the wake of the rock and roll invasion that significantly eroded the country music audience during those years, and he placed 99 songs on Billboard's country charts between 1951-78
Born March 15, 1927, in the eastern Tennessee town of Maynardville (also the birthplace of country icon Roy Acuff), Smith began his performing career in 1944 at station WROL Knoxville, Tennessee. He served in the military during World War II, and performed in bands in Asheville, N.C. and Augusta, Ga., working alongside other notable artists such as Molly O'Day and Archie Campbell.