Soul-jazz Hammond organ legend Dr Lonnie Smith has died at home in Fort Lauderdale in Florida of pulmonary fibrosis, a form of lung disease. He was 79. Smith was a significant artist in the 1960s for Blue Note Records on such albums as Lou Donaldson’s Alligator Bogaloo (1967) and his own Think and Turning Point and into the 70s with Move Your Hand and Drives while the contemporaraneous and one of his best Live at Club Mozambique had to wait until the 1990s for a release . Smith returned to the label in recent years.
The NEA Jazz Master (the USA's highest jazz honour) in his early career worked in George Benson's quartet. Known sartorially later for his distinctive turban he had a lot of magnetism as a performer. The acid jazz movement of the 1990s rediscovered his groovy sound and back where he belonged on Blue Note the message continued in his late career collaborating with Iggy Pop. “Doc was a musical genius who possessed a deep, funky groove and a wry, playful spirit,” says Blue Note president Don Was. “His mastery of the drawbars was equalled only by the warmth in his heart. He was a beautiful guy and all of us at Blue Note Records loved him a lot.” Photo: Mark Sheldon/Blue Note