Carl Smith (born March 15, 1927 in Maynardville, Tennessee) is an American country music singer. Known as Mister Country, Smith is the former husband of June Carter Cash, and the drinking buddy of Johnny Cash. He racked up a string of country hits in the 1950s, and was one of country's most successful male artists during that decade.
Carl Smith was one of country music's most popular singers during the 1950s. Over the course of the decade, he racked up 30 Top 10 hits, and his success continued well into the 1970s, where he had a charting single every year (except one).
Smith was born in Tennessee in 1927. He grew up in the town of Maynardville, the hometown of another leading country singer, Roy Acuff. During Smith's childhood, he idolized Acuff, Ernest Tubb, and Bill Monroe. In his teenage years, he taught himself to play the guitar. According to legend, he bought his first guitar with money earned by selling flower seeds. At age 15, he started performing in a band, called Kitty Dibble and Her Dude Ranch Ranglers. By the age of 17, he had learned to play the string bass, and spent his summer vacation working at the radio station WROL in Knoxville, Tennessee. After graduating from high school, he briefly served in the U.S. Navy. He went back to the radio station (WROL) and played string bass for country singers, Molly O'Day and Skeets Williamson. He also started singing at this time. One his colleagues at the station sent an acetate of his singing to WSM (the radio station of the Grand Ole Opry) in Nashville, Tennessee. WSM soon signed Smith to a contract, and he was soon working for WSM and the Grand Ole Opry.
The year 1950 was unsuccessful for Smith, but in 1951 he made it big, when his song "Let's Live a Little" was a big hit. The song just missed topping the country charts. His career then took off, and during the course of 1951, he racked up three other hits, including "If the Teardrops Were Pennies" and his first #1 hit called "Let Old Mother Nature Have Her Way". These songs made Smith a household name in country music.
In 1951, Smith also met and married June Carter (who later married Johnny Cash and became June Carter Cash). June was the daughter of Maybelle Carter, one-third of the legendary country band the Carter Family. In 1955 the couple had a daughter, Rebecca Smith, who later became known as Carlene Carter, a country singer in her own right.
During the rest of the 1950s, Smith would make regular appearances on Billboard's country charts, racking up many more hits, including 30 Top 10 hits. His biggest hits include "Loose Talk", "Wicked Lies", "Hey Joe!", and "You Are the One". He only had five #1 hits though in his career. "Loose Talk" was his last #1, in 1955. Some of his songs had sharp edges to them, had fast phrasing, and a strong drumbeat: these elements helped to make them hits.
They were similar to rockabilly material that was being recorded and making the charts back in the mid-50s. In some ways it made Smith's music closer to rock & roll than country. Some of his songs did, in fact, make the pop charts. His biggest pop entry was the song "Ten Thousand Drums" in 1959, which went to #43 on the pop charts, coming close to making the Top 40.
In 1956, as a way of changing pace, Smith quit the Grand Ole Opry, moved out to California and appeared in several movies. Soon after, he joined the Phillip Morris Country Music Show, and spent more than a year touring the United States. He soon appeared on the Ozark Jubilee show, hosted by Red Foley. His success continued as a country singer during this time.
In 1957, Smith and June Carter divorced. That same year, he married country music singer Goldie Hill, who was a successful country singer herself, best known for the #1 hit "I Let the Stars Get In My Eyes". The couple remained married until Goldie's death in 2005. By the late 50s, Smith's success began to dwindle on the country charts, and soon his on-going string of Top 10s soon turned into Top 20 hits.
By the 1960s, Smith's success as a country singer began to slow down. He soon stopped making the Top 10, and only making the Top 20, among these being "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 #10, and became his first Top 10 in 8 years (and the last time he would make the Top 10). During the 1960s, he continued to stay in country's Top 40. In 1961, he appeared in the NBC television series called Five Star Jubilee. He soon began hosting Carl Smith's Country Music Hall in Canada. The series was even syndicated in the United States. In the 1960s and 70s, Smith incorporated more Western swing into much of his recorded material - and this influence can be seen on many of his albums from that time.
Carl remained with Columbia Records for almost 25 years. He left them in 1975, and signed on with Hickory Records. By this time though, his singles were no longer making the Country Top 40; in fact, they were barely making the charts at all. In the late 1970s, he decided to retire from the music business. In 1983, he recorded again for the Gusto label. By this time though, his performing days were over. After that he spent time with his wife, Goldie Hill on their horse farm south of Nashville. Goldie retired from the music business after she married Smith in 1957.
In 2003, Smith was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
|Year||Single||U.S. Country Singles||U.S. Pop Singles||Album|
|1951||"Let's Live a Little"||2||-||Carl Smith|
|1952||"Let Old Mother Nature Have Her Way"||1||-||Carl Smith|
|1952||"(When You Feel Like You're In Love) Don't Just Stand There||1||-||Essential Carl Smith|
|1952||"Are You Teasing Me"||1||-||Essential Carl Smith|
|1953||"Hey, Joe"||1||-||Essential Carl Smith|
|1954||"Back Up Buddy"||2||-|
|1955||"Don't Tease Me"||11||-||Satisfaction Guaranteed|
|1955||"Loose Talk"||1||-||This Lady Loving Me|
|1955||"More Than Anything Else In the World"||5||-||Satisfaction Guaranteed|
|1955||"Old Lonesome Times"||11||-||Satisfaction Guaranteed|
|1955||"There She Goes"||3||-||The Essential Carl Smith|
|1955||"Wait a Little Longer, Please Jesus"||12||-||Satisfaction Guaranteed|
|1956||"Before I Met You"||6||-||Satisfaction Guaranteed|
|1956||"Doorstep to Heaven"||6||-||Satisfaction Guaranteed|
|1957||"You Are The One"||3||-||Essential Carl Smith|
|1959||"Ten Thousand Drums"||5||43||The Essential Carl Smith|
|1962||"Air Mail To Heaven"||11||-||Carl Smith's Columbia Hits of the 60's|
|1964||"Take My Ring Off Your Finger"||15||-||Carl Smith's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2|
|1967||"Deep Water"||10||-||Deep Water|
|1968||"Foggy River"||18||-||Deep Water|
|1969||"Faded Love and Winter Roses"||25||-||Faded Love and Winter Roses|
|1969||"Good Deal Lucille"||18||-||Faded Love and Winter Roses|
|1969||"I Love You Because"||14||-||Faded Love and Winter Roses|
|1970||"Pull My String And Wind Me Up"||18||-||Carl Smith and the Tunesmiths|
|1970||"How I Love Them Old Songs"||20||-||Carl Smith and the Tunesmiths|
|1971||"Red Door"||21||-||Don't Say You're Mine|
|1972||"Don't Say You're Mine||34||-||Don't Say You're Mine|
|1975||"The Way I Lose My Mind"||67||-||The Way I Lose My Mind|
|1975||"Roly Poly"||97||-||The Way I Lose My Mind|
|1976||"If You Don't, Somebody Else Will"||97||-||A Way With Words|
|1976||"A Way With Words"||98||-||A Way With Words|
|1977||"Show Me A Brick Wall"||96||-||This Lady Loving Me|
|1978||"This Lady Loving Me"||81||-||This Lady Loving Me|