Contact Us

‘Dueling Banjos’ Composer Arthur Smith Dead at 93

Arthur Smith
Michael Ochs Archives, Getty Images

Arthur Smith, the multi-instrumentalist and composer perhaps best known for ‘Dueling Banjos,’ has passed away at the age of 93.

The Charlotte Observer reports that Smith died at his home in Charlotte, N.C. on Thursday (April 3).

Born in 1921 in Clinton, S.C., Smith grew up in Kershaw, where his father, a mill worker, also led a brass band. Smith played trumpet in that group as a child, and also mastered mandolin, fiddle and guitar, among other instruments. He played in a Dixieland group with his brothers, and began to cut records when he was 15.

At the age of 24, Smith released ‘Guitar Boogie,’ which is widely considered one of the earliest rock and roll records. He also began a career in radio that led to a syndicated TV shows, ‘The Arthur Smith Show,’ which featured a wide range of guests, including personal friends like Billy Graham and Johnny Cash.

In 1955 Smith recorded a song he’d written titled ‘Feuding Banjos,’ which became a popular bluegrass tune. It attained a permanent place in popular culture when it was used in the classic 1972 film ‘Deliverance’ under the title ‘Dueling Banjos.’ The appearance was not licensed, and Smith sued Warner Bros., reportedly receiving a substantial settlement.

In later years Smith turned his attention to a wide variety of business interests, including a recording studio, as well as boating and sports fishing.

He is survived by his wife, Dorothy; sons, Clay and Reggie; daughter, Connie Brown, seven grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are incomplete.

Recommended For You

Around the Web

Best of The Boot

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing VIP profile. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to using your original account information.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

(Forgot your password?)

Not a member? Sign up here

Sign up for The Boot quickly by connecting your Facebook account. It's just as secure and no password to remember!