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Catalog Data

Smith, Johnny  Search this
Gibson Guitar Corp.  Search this
Smith, Johnny  Search this
Physical Description:
wood (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
metal (overall material)
guitar: 42 1/2 in x 17 in x 4 1/2 in; 107.95 cm x 43.18 cm x 11.43 cm
Object Name:
Place made:
United States: Michigan, Kalamazoo
Date made:
ca 1962
Description (Brief):
This guitar was made by Gibson, Inc. around 1962 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It is a 6-course (6 x 1) electric-acoustic arch top guitar, Johnny Smith model, serial #897087. This guitar was used by musician, composer, and band leader, Johnny Smith.<p>
The “King of the Cool Jazz Guitar,” Johnny Smith was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1922. Smith began working for the NBC Orchestra in New York in 1947, becoming a highly sought after musician for performances and recordings around the city. Smith played with such diverse figures as Benny Goodman, Arturo Toscanini, Zoot Sims, Art Tatum, Bing Crosby and the New York Philharmonic. He also led his own band, becoming a regular act at the famed Birdland nightclub.<p>
In 1952 he made his first recording as a band leader, the influential “Moonlight in Vermont.” The recording, featuring like-minded saxophonist Stan Getz, was a major statement on the developing, relaxed “cool-jazz” sound, becoming one of the best selling jazz albums of the year.<p>
Smith’s career took off after the album leading to more recording and touring with both the Stan Kenton and Count Basie Orchestras. In 1955 he penned his most well-known original composition, “Walk Don’t Run,” soon to become a Top 10 hit for the surf-rock outfit “The Ventures” in 1960.
Currently not on view
Credit Line:
Gift of Johnny Smith
ID Number:
Accession number:
Catalog number:
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See more items in:
Cultural and Community Life: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Data Source:
National Museum of American History