Label: Mr R&B Records - R&B-107 • Format: Vinyl LP • Country: Sweden • Genre: Funk / Soul • Style: Rhythm & Blues
Singer-songwriter-pianist Joseph Coleman Smith of Maywood, Illinois, found having more than one area of expertise gave him an edge in his chosen profession but still didn't guarantee success.
He kept at it for many years despite rejection, failed record releases, frustratingly long periods between opportunities, Short Walk - Sonny Knight - Confidential what he felt was unfair manipulation by some in the record business. Early on, before he had honed his various talents, it seemed simple enough; his family moved to Los Angeles and while attending college in he approached Aladdin Records, run by brothers Eddie and Leo Mesnerwith "Vicious, Vicious Vodka," a song he had written for Amos Milburnwho had already stacked up several top-selling 78s about the Short Walk - Sonny Knight - Confidential and evils of alcohol the biggest: "Bad, Bad Whiskey".
They liked the song and Milburn recorded it. To Joseph's surprise, they also offered to sign him as an artist. Taking the cleverly oxymoronic professional name Sonny Knighthis career was under way. So easy! Lack of success with these efforts prompted Sonny to try a new approach. Cal-West, a Fresno, California label that usually released records by country singers, put out "Short Walk," a good piano piece with a smooth vocal, under Sonny's real name, Joe Smith. Good song, but still no luck.
Not so easy! In the summer of he headed to L. When local one-stops began ordering large quantites, Dot Records obtained the rights for national distribution. Two When Worlds Collide - Geoff Love And His Orchestra* - Star Wars And Other Space Movie Themes Dot singles, including his earlier Joe Smith recording "Short Short Walk - Sonny Knight - Confidential as Sonny Knight, it also came out on the indie Starla labelwere unable to get a foothold.
Inwhen Laboe released the incredibly popular compilation album Oldies But Goodies Volume 1the first of its Sono Pippo Col Naso - Pippo Franco - Super Pippo Franco, on his Original Sound label, the song was one of the 12 tracks chosen, a windfall for Knight. A long-awaited second hit appeared in on Aura, a subsidiary of the jazz label World Pacific. The song caught on quickly at his familiar L.
Having a new radio hit, even if it wasn't a major seller, gave Sonny's career a boost; his live appearances were more frequent, he did a lot of session work as a pianist during that time and made a number of records, mostly pop ballads, for World Pacific until Once this "second life" phase of his career ran Lughnasadh - Dark Poem - The Fire Lives Inside course he found it difficult to keep going, partly due to changing trends in music that he didn't seem to be able to adapt to.
Disillusioned by it all, Sonny threw in the towel in the early s and moved to Maui. For many years he appeared in nightclubs on the Hawaiian island Though he had shown a knack for writing stories as a youth, the music career consumed all of his energies for about two decades. With more free time and a slower lifestyle on Maui, he took up writing again, using his given name Joseph C.
InGrove Press published his novel The Day the Music Diedset in the music business of the s and early '60s. In the book, several camouflaged scenarios take place; parallels between fictional and real-life musicians, record company owners and the actual companies can easily be deciphered. Smith clearly had a bone to pick with the structure of the music business, in essence accusing white owners of holding black artists back, while those artists in turn hustle their talents and withhold their best for a much larger hoped-for payoff.
Intense stories unfold with a cynical attitude toward the entire industry for which the author possessed a certain level of contempt. Reviews of the work were mostly positive; the book remained in print for many years and I recommend it to music fans interested in a mid-century story that pulls no punches.
The book, perhaps, was the career-defining success he'd sought his entire life. The singer fondly remembered as Sonny Knight remained in Maui until his death in Confidentially, I'd say he did all right for himself. All rights reserved.
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