Beasley Smith

Induction Year: 1983

Birth Name: John Beasley Smith

Birth Date: 09-27-1901

Place of Birth: McEwen, Tennessee

Death Date: 09-14-1968

Place of Death: Nashville, Tennessee

The three top pop dance bands in Nashville during the first half of the twentieth century were led by pianists Beasley Smith, Francis Craig and Owen Bradley. Craig had the biggest hit record, "Near You," in 1947. Bradley opened the first recording studio on what is now known as Music Row and became a Country Music Hall of Fame member as a Decca Records executive and hit producer. But Smith was the one who left a songwriting legacy.

Beasley Smith's parents were teachers. The family moved to Nashville when he was in elementary school. While in high school at Hume-Fogg in downtown Nashville, he formed an instrumental duo with fellow piano prodigy Francis Craig. They were later roommates at Vanderbilt University.

Smith left college after two years to become a musician. He formed his first band around 1922, and by 1925 the Beasley Smith Orchestra was entertaining regularly at the Andrew Jackson Hotel downtown. From 1927 to 1933, the group toured nationally. On October 5, 1925, both Smith and Craig performed with their bands during the opening-day broadcasts of radio station WSM.

Wearying of the road, Smith accepted the job of music director at WSM in 1933. He starred on such radio shows as Mr. Smith Goes to Town, Sunday Down South and Tin Pan Valley. Lead vocalists who worked with Smith's band during his heyday included Snooky Lanson, Dottie Dillard, Kitty Kallen and Dinah Shore. When Nashville started to become a recording center in the 1940s, Smith and Owen Bradley were key figures in assembling musicians for studio sessions.

Smith also began to blossom as a songwriter in the 1940s. He and Bradley co-wrote "Night Train to Memphis" with Marvin Hughes. Roy Acuff sang the original version in 1942, and the upbeat number has been recorded consistently ever since. Beasley Smith and Francis Craig co-wrote "Beg Your Pardon," and it became the big 1948 follow-up hit to "Near You" for Craig's band. Smith's song "That Lucky Old Sun" (1949) is now a pop-music standard.

In 1953, he left WSM to become the A&R director and musical arranger for Dot Records. He and Dot founder Randy Wood also incorporated the Randy-Smith Music publishing company. Beasley Smith had written more than 100 songs by the time he passed away in 1968.

"Alone with My Heart"

(written with Randy Wood)

The Hilltoppers1954  

"Beg Your Pardon"

(written with Francis Craig)

The Frances Craig Orchestra1948 #3 pop
Frankie Carle & His Orchestra1948 #5 pop
Larry Green1948 #8 pop
The Dinning Sisters1948 #12 pop
Spike Jones1949  
Nat King Cole1950  
Pat Boone1956  
Sonny James1957  
Billy Vaughn Orchestra1961  

"Deliver Me to Tennessee"

Gene Krupa & His Orchestra1945  
Anita O'Day1945  
Woody Herman Orchestra1945  

"God's Country"

(written with Haven Gillespie)

Frank Sinatra1950 #25 pop
Vic Damone1950 #27 pop
Al Jolson1950  
The Mills Brothers1950  

"I'd Rather Die Young"

(written with Billy Vaughn, Randy Wood)

The Hilltoppers1953 #8 pop
Rose Maddox1953  
Mac Wiseman1953  
Tennessee Ernie Ford1955  
Johnny Cash1957  
Jean Shepard1959  
Pat Boone1965  
Don Gibson1977  
Tom T. Hall1978  
George Jones1983  
Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver1999  

"My Bashful Nashville Gal from Tennessee"

(written with Haven Gillespie)

The Buddy Moreno Orchestra1949  

"My Heart Keeps Telling Me"

George Morgan1952  

"Night Train to Memphis"

(written with Owen Bradley, Marvin Hughes)

Roy Acuff1942  
Bing Crosby1943  
Spade Cooley1945  
Jack Guthrie1945  
Red Foley1951  
Dean Martin1951  
Carl Smith1958  
Jerry Lee Lewis1959  
Bobby Hebb1960  
Tennessee Ernie Ford1960  
Duane Eddy1960  
Ricky Nelson1960  
Jimmy Dean1961 
Little Jimmy Dickens1962  
The Anita Kerr Singers1962  
The Osborne Brothers1963  
Webb Pierce1965  
Mel Tillis1967  
Grandpa Jones1968  
Hank Locklin1968  
Hank Williams Jr.1971  
Benny Martin1976  
Dick Curless1979  
The New Coon Creek Girls1989  
Dolly Parton1994  
Sleepy LaBeef2001  

"Sunday Down in Tennessee"

Red Foley1950 #3 country
Bill Haley1950  
Tennessee Ernie Ford1960  

"Tennessee Central Number Nine"

Roy Acuff1946  
Tex Beneke & His Orchestra1946  
Spade Cooley1950  
Pee Wee King1950  
Cliffie Stone1950  
Floyd Cramer1957  
Ferlin Husky1960  
Jim & Jesse1975  

"Tennessee Hillbilly Ghost"

(written with Marie Petersen)

Eddy Arnold1951  
Red Foley1951  
Terry Preston (Ferlin Husky)1951  
George Morgan1951  
Phil Harris1951  

"That Lucky Old Sun"

(written with Haven Gillespie)

Snooky Lanson1949  
Frankie Laine1949 #1 pop
Vaughn Monroe1949 #6 pop
Sarah Vaughan1949 #14 pop
Frank Sinatra1949 #16 pop
Bob Houston1949 #27 pop
Bing Crosby1949  
Herb Lance1949 #6 R&B
Louis Armstrong1949 #14 R&B
LaVern Baker1955  
Dean Martin1955  
Jerry Lee Lewis1956  
Pat Boone1956  
Sam Cooke1957  
The Isley Brothers1959  
The Ames Brothers1959  
Bobby Darin1960  
Aretha Franklin1962  
Sammy Davis Jr.1962  
Keely Smith1962  
Ray Charles1964 #10 adult contemporary,#20 R&,#20 pop
The Lettermen1965  
Dave Dudley1965  
Tom Jones1967  
The Sons of the Pioneers1967  
Ferlin Husky1968  
The Righteous Brothers1968  
Sam & Dave1968  
Jackie Wilson1969  
Solomon Burke1969  
Paul Williams1972  
Jerry Reed1973  
Willie Nelson1976  
George Benson1976  
Mickey Newbury1977  
Nat Stuckey1978 #66 country
Leon Russell & Willie Nelson1979  
Tom T. Hall1985  
Asleep at the Wheel1988  
Jerry Garcia1989  
Johnny Cash2000  
Tony Bennett & k. d. lang2002  
Bonnie Bramlett2006  
James Brown2007  
Brian Wilson2008  
Kenny Chesney & Willie Nelson2008  
Chris Isaak2011  

"The Old Master Painter"

(written with Haven Gillespie)

Richard Hayes1950 #2 pop
Dick Haymes1950 #4 pop
Peggy Lee & Mel Tormé1950 #9 pop
Bob Crosby's Bobcats1950  
Phil Harris1950 #10 pop
Snooky Lanson1950 #12 pop
Frank Sinatra1950 #13 pop
The Browns1962  
The Anita Kerr Singers1962  
The Beach Boys1967  

Beasley Smith

Induction Year: 1983