Dr. Lonnie Smith, an NEA jazz master and Hammond B3 organ maestro, died on September 28 at his home in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, at the age of 79. The news was announced on Blue Note Records’ official Twitter account. “We’re deeply saddened to report that Dr. Lonnie Smith, the legendary Hammond B3 organist, passed away today at the age of 79. “We were proud to bring this remarkable man’s joyous music to fans all over the world,” the tweet read. Doc was one of the funkiest and most inventive organists to ever walk the earth. Andrea Martin, the R&B legend, died a day before his death, at the age of 49. Several musical legends have died in the year 2021, including merengue music legend Johnny Ventura, who died in the Dominican Republic. Mike Howe, Metal Church’s lead vocalist, committed suicide after being “victimized by a failing healthcare system.” Sophie, a trans pop artist and producer, died earlier this year after losing her footing and falling to her death from an apartment balcony while celebrating the new moon.
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What happened to Lonnie Smith? Following Smith’s death, Blue Note President Don Was issued a statement as well. “Doc was a musical genius with a wry, playful spirit and a deep, funky groove. Only the warmth in his heart matched his mastery of the drawbars. He was a stunning young man, and we at Blue Note Records adored him. Smith died of pulmonary fibrosis, a type of lung disease, according to a spokesperson for the label. Smith joined the label as a bandleader in 1968 and released five albums with them between the late 1960s and early 1970s, according to Pitchfork. In 1971, he left the label and began working with other producers. He began to fade from the scene, along with jazz music, after a while. In the mid-’80s, he reunited with guitarists Richie Hart and Jimmy Ponder, vocalist Etta James, and drummer Alvin Queen to do what he did best.
Hip-hop in the 1990s revived beat-driven jazz from the 1960s and 1970s through sampling. Smith was in high demand once more, and he was invited to appear as a featured guest artist and a leader on a variety of shows. He returned to recording albums, releasing four with Palmetto Records, all of which received critical acclaim and helped him connect with well-known guitarists. Smith self-released two albums in 2013 and 2014, then returned to Blue Note two years later.
He was named an NEA Jazz Master in 2017 and has continued to collaborate with artists from various genres. His most recent album, ‘Breathe,’ was released in 2018 and followed by another in 2021, both of which feаtured collаborаtions with Iggy Pop.
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