About The Artist
Fred Smith was a well-known country music comedian and harmony singer based in east Tennessee. But he was also active in western North Carolina and Nashville at different points of his career. As a singer, he worked extensively with Carl Story's Rambling Mountaineers and also had a quality duet with his cousin, the mandolin virtuoso Red Rector. Through much of his radio and TV work Fred was a regular on programs sponsored by Knoxville supermarket tycoon, Cas Walker.
Red and Fred were natives of Madison County, North Carolina and first worked on radio in Asheville as teenagers. They once made a trip with Wade Mainer to appear in a BBC program On the Chisholm Trail. Red sometimes left to work with other acts including Charlie Monroe, Johnny and Jack, and Hylo Brown while Fred continued in Knoxville. From 1948 through 1951 both men were part of what Carl Story termed the best version of the Rambling Mountaineers he ever assembled-Story, Red Rector, Fred Smith, Claude Boone, and Cotton Galyon. Ironically, Fred never played on any of their numerous Mercury Recordings, perhaps because he would have been the second guitarist on the sessions.
During Fred's days with the Cas Walker Farm and Home Hour in the early 1960's, he often furnished a ride to young Dolly Parton. In later years, Dolly would call Fred her favorite country comedian. Many of his stories were about incidents that took place on Spivey Mountain (his equivalent of Minnie Pearl's Grinder's Switch).
In summers Fred supplemented his income with work first at Archie Campbell's Hee Haw Show or at the Comedy Barn, both in Pigeon Forge, North Carolina. After the Cas Walker Show went off the air in 1983, he worked for a decade at Boots Randolph's Club in Nashville. Fred worked summers again with Phil Campbell, son of Archie.
Other than his duet bluegrass album with Red Rector, Songs from the Heart of the Country in 1969, Fred Smith recorded a comedy album Live at the Boots Randolph Club. He later did two compact discs: Tales from Spivey Mountain (1999) and The Comedy of Fred E. Smith with Archie Campbell (2000), taken from material obviously recorded years before.
Credits & Sources
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