There are instances that whenever you search for a certain personality, you will also come across a different person that share the same name as them. It’s not often that it happens. But when it does, I always make a note of it. It’s happened with Amy Lawrence and Leroy Thompson. I feel like, the more I write about different personalities, the higher the chance I come across another personality with the same name. What’s weird about the whole Amy Lawrence thing is that they both work in sports journalism. Who would’ve thought?
When I searched for the name Lonnie Smith, I was served with two results. The first one is jazz musician Lonnie Smith. The second is baseball player Lonnie Smith. As I did a bit of digging, I saw that there’s a small disambiguation page for baseball player Lonnie Smith. One of the pages mentioned is for jazz musician Lonnie Smith. There’s also another jazz musician named Lonnie Liston Smith. It’s easy to understand why you’d confuse both of them. There’s also a boxer who goes by Lonnie Smith. It’s definitely a fun tidbit to mention. (Well, it’s fun for me.)
The Lonnie Smith that I am writing about is for jazz musician Dr. Lonnie Smith. It’s just easier to differentiate him from the baseball player if I use “Dr.” at the top. There isn’t really much that I could find about Dr. Lonnie Smith. It’s fairly common that there’s only a few details about certain people online. It just comes with the territory, I guess.
One of the things that I notice about musicians is that they often come from a background that involved them growing up while listening to music. In the case of Dr. Lonnie, he was raised by a mother who introduced him to different genres of music. One of those genres is jazz. Aside from that, his family also had a vocal group and a radio program. It’s insane how colorful other peoples lives are sometimes.
He seems to have spent some time being part of musical ensembles during his teenage years. One of the ensembles was with George Washington Jr. and Darryl Washington called the Teen Kings. Eventually, Dr. Lonnie moved to New York City in 1965. That was where he met fellow jazz musician George Benson. They became close friends and that lead them to create the George Benson Quartet a year after.
Dr. Lonnie seems to have learned a lot being friends with George Benson. In 1967, he decided to record his first solo album “Finger Lickin’ Good.” George was a big part of that album. And it seems that they kept at it for five years. Eventually, Dr. Lonnie decided to become a solo recording artist. He managed to record a ton of albums. He also got to collaborate with a bunch of other jazz musicians during that time.
It’s kind of insane how so many things have happened in 1967. After releasing “Finger Lickin’ Good, he met with fellow musician Lou Donaldson who helped meet the people at Blue Note Records. Lou asked them to help him record music for his album “Alligator Boogaloo.” That lead to Dr. Lonnie getting signed to the label. Slowly, he got more well-known in other parts of the country. At that point, Dr. Lonnie had released three albums with Blue Note Records. The next two albums he did, namely “Move Your Hand” and “Live at Club Mozambique,” would be last albums he did with the label.
The years that follow was basically him jumping around different labels and releasing a bunch of albums. He spent most of the 1970s touring with other musicians. I feel like it’s normal for artists to go to other record labels to pursue a different path. It wasn’t until 2015 that he signed again with Blue Note Records. At that point, Dr. Lonnie amassed a net worth of about $10,000,000. He released a few albums with the label during that time. It’s amazing how much work Dr. Lonnie has down in the 40 or so years he has been a professional musician. The last ever album he released was “Breathe” in March 2021. A few months later, Dr. Lonnie Smith passed away.