A Rockapaedia Obituary
O.C. Smith died aged sixty-nine of heart attack on 23rd November 2001.
He was survived by his wife Robbie Gholson Smith, his four children with former wife Lorraine O.C. Smith: Sherryn Smith, Ocie Lee Smith III, Kelly T.Smith and Robert Francis Smith, sons Jesse Hayes IV and Frank Hayes, daughter Bonnie Dykes, and ten grandchildren including Monique Smith, Sergio Glenn Smith and Melany Frances Smith.
Shortly after his death, Governor Jim Hodges proclaimed 21st June the O.C. Smith Day' in the state of South Carolina, U.S.A.. O.C. Smith was posthumously elected to the Carolina Beach Music Hall of Fame in November 2002.
After his death, his book Little Green Apples: God Really Did Make Them that he co-wrote with James Shaw was published posthumously in 2003.
O.C. Smith was born Ocie Lee Smith on 21st June 1932 in
Mansfield, Louisiana, U.S.A..
O.C. Smith moved with his parents to Little Rock, Arkansas, and then moved with his mother to Los Angeles, California after his parents divorced.
After completing a psychology degree at Southern University, Ocie Smith joined the Air Force, and served throughout the U.S.A., Europe and Asia. While in the Air Force, Ocie Smith began entering talent contests and toured with Horace Heidt. After his discharge in July 1955, O.C. Smith went into jazz music to pay his bills.
Ocie Smith gained his first break as a singer with Sy Oliver and made an appearance on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. His success on that show led to a recording contract with Cadence Records.
Ocie Smith's debut release was a cover of the Little Richard hit "Tutti Frutti" in December 1955. The song was not a hit, but convinced MGM Records to sign Ocie Smith to a solo contract, resulting in three more releases, but still no hits.
In 1961, Ocie Smith was recruited by Count Basie to be his vocalist, a position he held until 1965. He also continued to record with different labels, but a hit remained elusive. By 1968, Ocie Smith's then label, Columbia Records, was ready to release him from his recording contract, when he entered the charts for the first time with "The Son of Hickory Holler's Tramp", which reached number two in the UK Singles Chart and also broke the Top 40 in the United States.
Ocie Smith changed the first part of his name to O.C. and recorded the Bobby Russell-written song "Little Green Apples," which went to number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and won Russell the 1969 Grammy Award for Song of the Year. It received a gold record from the R.I.A.A. for sales of one million records.
He continued to record, reaching the R&B, Adult Contemporary and pop charts in his home country with the likes of "Daddy's Little Man", "Friend, Lover, Woman, Wife", "Me and You" and "Love To Burn". He also returned to the UK Singles Chart in 1977 with "Together", reaching a Top 30 position.
After CBS, O.C. Smith united with Charles Wallert, who wrote and produced the title track as well as the album for "Dreams Come True" that returned O.C. Smith to the national charts. The Whatcha Gonna Do album, resulted in three nationally charted singles for a total of 40 weeks. This album contained "Brenda", "You're My First, My Last My Everything" and "Spark Of Love". Additional hits "The Best Out Of Me" and "After All Is Said And Done" established O.C. Smith as a Beach Music star. Nominated for six awards at the third Beach Music Awards, O.C. Smith captured five.
O.C. Smith became pastor and founder of The City Of Angels Church in Los Angeles, California where he ministered for sixteen years.
One of his last recordings, "Save The Last Dance For Me" reached the number one position on the Rhythm n' Beach Top 40 chart.
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