Carl Smith (musician)

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Carl Smith
Smith pictured around 1960
Smith pictured around 1960
Background information
Birth nameCarl Milton Smith
Also known asMister Country
Born(1927-03-15)March 15, 1927
Maynardville, Tennessee, U.S.
DiedJanuary 16, 2010(2010-01-16) (aged 82)
Franklin, Tennessee, U.S.
GenresCountry, rockabilly
Years active1942–1983
LabelsColumbia Records
Hickory Records

Carl Milton Smith (March 15, 1927 – January 16, 2010) was an American country singer.[1][2][3] Known as "Mister Country", he was one of the genre's most successful male artists during the 1950s, scoring 30 top-10 Billboard hits (21 of which were consecutive). Smith's success continued well into the 1970s, when he had a charting single every year but one. In 1952, Smith married June Carter, with whom he had daughter Carlene; the couple divorced in 1956. His eldest daughter Carlene was also the stepdaughter of fellow late country singer Johnny Cash, who was subsequently married to his ex-wife Carter. He later married Goldie Hill, and they had three children together. In 2003, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. According to the Hollywood Walk of Fame website, he was a "drinking companion" to Johnny Cash, his daughter's stepfather.[4][5]


Early career[edit]

Smith was born in Maynardville, Tennessee, in 1927 (the same town in which fellow country icon Roy Acuff had been born),[6] and started to aspire to a musical career after hearing the Grand Ole Opry on the radio. He sold seed to pay for guitar lessons as a teenager.[7][8] At age 15, he started performing in a band called Kitty Dibble and Her Dude Ranch Ranglers. By age 17, he had learned to play the string bass and spent his summer vacation working at WROL-AM in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he performed on Cas Walker's radio show.[9]

After graduating from high school, he served in the U.S. Navy from 1944–47. He returned to WROL and played string bass for country singers Molly O'Day and Skeets Williamson, and began his singing career. A colleague at the station sent an acetate disc recording of Smith to WSM-AM and the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, and WSM soon signed him. In 1950, Smith was signed to a recording contract with Columbia Records by producer Don Law.[9]

Success in the 1950s[edit]

In 1951, his song "Let's Live a Little" was a big hit, reaching number two on the Billboard country chart.[10] During 1951, he had three other hits, including "If the Teardrops Were Pennies" and his first number-one hit, "Let Old Mother Nature Have Her Way".[9] The songs made Smith a well-known name in country music. His band, the Tunesmiths, featured steel guitarist Johnny Silbert, who added an element of Western swing.[8]

In 1952, Smith married June Carter, daughter of Maybelle Carter of the Carter Family. It was the first marriage for both. In 1955, the couple had a daughter, Rebecca Carlene Smith, who later became known as Carlene Carter, a country singer in her own right. The couple recorded the duets, "Time's a Wastin'" and "Love Oh Crazy Love". During the rest of the 1950s, Smith made regular appearances on Billboard's country charts, racking up many hits, including 30 in the top 10. His biggest hits include "Loose Talk", "Hey Joe!", and "You Are the One". He had five number-one hits in his career; "Loose Talk" was his last, in 1955.[10] In 1956, Smith quit the Grand Ole Opry. Soon after, he joined The Phillip Morris Country Music Show and spent more than a year touring the United States, often in direct competition with touring Opry shows. He also made regular appearances on ABC-TV's Jubilee USA and was a fill-in host for Red Foley.

In 1956, Smith and June Carter divorced.[10] In 1957, he appeared in the movies The Badge of Marshal Brennan and Buffalo Gun, and married country music singer Goldie Hill, best known for the number-one hit "I Let the Stars Get In My Eyes".[10] Goldie retired from the music business. By the late 1950s, Smith's success began to dwindle on the country charts, and soon his string of top-10 hits began to dwindle.[10]

Later years[edit]

By the 1960s, Smith's success as a country singer began to slow. His top-20 hits included "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 number 10 and became his first top 10 in eight years (and his final top-10 appearance). In 1961, he was one of five rotating hosts on the NBC television series Five Star Jubilee. He also hosted Carl Smith's Country Music Hall in Canada, a series syndicated in the United States. Smith appeared on The Jimmy Dean Show on April 9, 1964.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Smith incorporated more Western swing into much of his recorded material. He remained with Columbia Records for almost 25 years, leaving in 1975 to sign with Hickory Records. By this time, his singles were barely making the charts.[10] He appeared in the Hawaii Five-O episode, "Man on Fire", first aired on October 21, 1976.

Due to his real estate and song publishing investments, he decided to retire from the music business in the late 1970s to concentrate on his second passion, raising cutting horses,[8] but in 1983, he recorded an album for the Gusto label. In 2003, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.


In his later years, Smith lived on a 500-acre (2.0 km2) horse farm in Franklin, Tennessee, (south of Nashville), where he died on January 16, 2010, at the age of 82. His wife Goldie had died five years prior. He was survived by two sons, Carl Jr. and Larry Dean, and two daughters, Carlene and Lori Lynn.[8]



Year Album US Country Label
1955 Carl, Lefty and Marty (w/ Lefty Frizzell & Marty Robbins) Columbia
Carl Smith
1956 Sentimental Songs by Carl Smith
Softly and Tenderly
1957 Sunday Down South
Smith's the Name
1958 Let's Live a Little
1960 The Carl Smith Touch
1961 Easy to Please
1962 Carl Smith's Greatest Hits
1963 The Tall, Tall Gentleman 12
1964 Carl Smith's Best
There Stands the Glass 9
1965 Walkin' Tall
I Want to Live and Love
Kisses Don't Lie
1966 Man with a Plan 18
1967 Satisfaction Guaranteed
A Gentleman in Love
The Country Gentleman 22
The Carl Smith Special: The Country Gentleman Sings His Favorites 34
1968 Deep Water 28
Country On My Mind 42
1969 Take It Like a Man
Faded Love and Winter Roses 23
Carl Smith's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 40
Carl Smith Sings a Tribute to Roy Acuff 48
1970 Carl and the Tunesmiths
I Love You Because 44
The Carl Smith Anniversary Album: 20 Years of Hits 34
1971 Sings Bluegrass
1972 Don't Say You're Mine 34
If This Is Goodbye 28
1975 The Way I Lose My Mind 47 Hickory/MGM
The Girl That I Love
1977 This Lady Loving Me
1978 Silver Tongued Cowboy
1980 Greatest Hits Gusto
1982 The Legendary


Year Single Chart Positions Album
US Country US
CAN Country
1950 "Guilty Conscience" Single only
"I Overlooked an Orchid (While Searching For a Rose)"
1951 "Let's Live a Little" 2 Let's Live a Little
"There's Nothing As Sweet As My Baby" flip
"Mr. Moon" 4
"If Teardrops Were Pennies" 8
"Let Old Mother Nature Have Her Way" 1 Sentimental Songs
1952 "(When You Feel Like You're in Love) Don't Just Stand There" 1
"Me and My Broken Heart" (cover of Hank Williams song) -
"Are You Teasing Me" 1
"It's a Lovely, Lovely World" 5
"Our Honeymoon" 6
1953 "That's the Kind of Love I'm Looking For" 9 Carl Smith's Best
"Just Wait 'Til I Get You Alone" 7
"This Orchid Means Goodbye" 4 Single only
"Trademark" 2 Satisfaction Guaranteed
"Do I Like It?" 6 Single only
"Hey Joe" 1 Greatest Hits
"Satisfaction Guaranteed" 7 Satisfaction Guaranteed
1954 "Dog-Gone It, Baby, I'm in Love" 7
"Back Up Buddy" 2 The Tall, Tall Gentleman
"Go, Boy Go" 4 Carl Smith's Best
"Loose Talk" 1 Carl Smith
"More Than Anything Else in the World" 5 Single only
1955 "Kisses Don't Lie" 5 Walkin' Tall
"No, I Don't Believe I Will" 13 Carl Smith's Best
"Wait a Little Longer Please, Jesus" 12 Sunday Down South
"There She Goes" 3 Carl Smith
"Old Lonesome Times" 11 Greatest Hits
"Don't Tease Me" 11 Single only
"You're Free to Go" 6 Greatest Hits
"I Feel Like Cryin'" 7 Carl Smith
1956 "I've Changed" 11 Single only
"You Are the One" 4 Greatest Hits
"Doorstep to Heaven" 6
"Before I Met You" 6 The Tall, Tall Gentleman
"Wicked Lies" 9 Singles only
1957 "You Can't Hurt Me Anymore" 15
"Try to Take It Like a Man"
"Why, Why" 2
1958 "Your Name Is Beautiful" 6 80
"Guess I've Been Around Too Long" 93
"Walking the Slow Walk" 28
1959 "The Best Years of My Life" 15 Let's Live a Little
"It's All My Heartache" 19 Single only
"Ten Thousand Drums" 5 43 Walkin' Tall
"Tomorrow Night" 24 Singles only
1960 "Make the Waterwheel Roll" 30
"Cut Across Shorty" 28 The Carl Smith Touch
"If the World Don't End Tomorrow (I'm Comin' After You)" 107 Singles only
1961 "You Make Me Live Again" 29
"Kisses Never Lie" 11
1962 "Air Mail to Heaven" 11 The Tall, Tall Gentleman
"Things That Mean the Most" 24 Single only
"The Best Dressed Beggar (In Town)" 16 The Country Gentleman
1963 "Live for Tomorrow" 28 The Tall, Tall Gentleman
"In the Back Room Tonight" 17 Single only
"I Almost Forgot Her Today" 23 The Country Gentleman
"Triangle" 16
1964 "The Pillow That Whispers" 17
"Take My Ring Off Your Finger" 15
"Lonely Girl" 14
"When It's Over" 26
1965 "She Called Me Baby" 32 Kisses Don't Lie
"Keep Me Fooled" 42 Singles only
"Be Good to Her" 33
"Let's Walk Away Strangers" 36 The Country Gentleman
1966 "Why Do I Keep Doing This to Us" 45 Singles only
"Why Can't You Feel Sorry for Me" 49
"Man with a Plan" 42 Man with a Plan
"You Better Be Better to Me" 52 Singles only
1967 "It's Only a Matter of Time" 65
"Mighty Day" 68 The Carl Smith Special
"I Should Get Away Awhile (From You)" 54
"Deep Water" 10 1 Deep Water
1968 "Foggy River" 18 15
"You Ought to Hear Me Cry" 43 Carl Smith's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2
"There's No More Love" 48 Single only
1969 "Faded Love and Winter Roses" 25 37 Faded Love And Winter Roses
"Good Deal Lucille" 18 I Love You Because
"I Love You Because" 14
"Heartbreak Avenue" 35 The Carl Smith Anniversary Album
1970 "Pull My String and Wind Me Up" 18
"Pick Me Up on Your Way Down" 46 Carl Smith and the Tunesmiths
"Bonaparte's Retreat" flip
"How I Love Them Old Songs" 20 46 Singles only
1971 "Don't Worry 'bout the Mule (Just Load the Wagon)" 44
"Lost It on the Road" 43
"Red Door" 21 Don't Say You're Mine
"Don't Say You're Mine" 34
1972 "Mama Bear" 46 If This Is Goodbye
"If This Is Goodbye" 54
1973 "I Need Help" 76 Single only
1975 "The Way I Lose My Mind" 67 The Way I Lose My Mind
"Roly Poly" 97 The Girl That I Love
1976 "If You Don't, Somebody Else Will" 97 Single only
"A Way with Words" 98 This Lady Loving Me
1977 "Show Me a Brick Wall" 96 50
"This Kinda Love Ain't Meant for Sunday School" 84
1978 "This Lady Loving Me" 81


  1. ^ Obituary The New York Times, January 19, 2010; page A29.
  2. ^ Obituary London Independent, February 12, 2010.
  3. ^ Obituary London Guardian, April 21, 2010.
  4. ^ "Carl Smith". October 25, 2019.
  5. ^ "Carl smith Concert & Tour History | Concert Archives".
  6. ^ "Carl Smith obituary". The Guardian. April 20, 2010. Retrieved August 10, 2021.
  7. ^ Local country star Carl Smith dead at 82 Archived January 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, (WVLT-TV), January 17, 2010
  8. ^ a b c d McArdle, Terrence (January 23, 2010). "'Country Gentleman' had 21 consecutive Top 10 hits". The Washington Post. Washington, DC. pp. B4.
  9. ^ a b c Cooper, Peter (January 17, 2010). "Country Music Hall of Famer Carl Smith dies at 82". The Tennessean. Archived from the original on March 26, 2015. Retrieved January 18, 2010.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Colin Larkin, ed. (2002). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Fifties Music (Third ed.). Virgin Books. pp. 404/5. ISBN 1-85227-937-0.
  11. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2011). Top Pop Singles 1955–2010. Record Research, Inc. p. 825. ISBN 978-0-89820-188-8.


  • Pugh, Ronnie. (1998). "Carl Smith". In The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Paul Kingsbury, Editor. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 489–90.

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