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Huey 'Piano' Smith
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    (January 26, 1934- )
    Born in New Orleans, Louisiana
    Led Huey ‘Piano’ Smith and the Clowns
    Recorded the singles ‘Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie-Woogie Flu’ (1957), ‘Don’t You Know, Yockamo’ (1958) and ‘Don’t You Just Know It’ (1958)
    Played on sessions for Little Richard, Lloyd Price, Smiley Lewis, Guitar Slim and Earl King
    When his father gave him money for piano lessons, he skipped the lessons, kept the money, and learned from his older sister instead.
    ’Don’t You Just Know It’ was his only song to cross over to the pop Top 40.
    There were many different singers with the Clowns, leading to frequent errors in reference books and album liner notes in identifying who sang lead on which song.
    He became increasingly reclusive after becoming a Jehovah’s Witness in the 1980s.
    He went bankrupt in the mid-90s after unsuccessfully suing his old label over unpaid royalties.
    Despite not being a pop hit, ‘Rockin’ Pneumonia’ sold over a million singles.
    He was screwed out of a potential hit when Ace Records took his recording of ‘Sea Cruise,’ erased Clowns’ vocalist Bobby Marchan, and had white teenager Frankie Ford cut a new vocal track (1959).
    He received a Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award (2000).

Credit: C. Fishel

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