All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Johnny "Hammond" Smith

Musician? Boost Your Visibility at All About Jazz

Upgrade your AAJ musician page from standard to premium and make your presence felt!

Maximize your visibility at All About Jazz by upgrading your musician page from standard to premium. With it, you'll receive All About Jazz home page exposure, a highly stylized / ad-free musician page with bonus features and benefits, an ad, plus you control where you sell your music and so much more.
Learn More

Johnny "Hammond" Smith

Johnny “Hammond” Smith was part of the golden age of jazz organ that flourished for about 15 years, beginning in the mid-1950s. His own record label alone, Prestige, boasted such top organists as Shirley Scott, Brother Jack McDuff, Don Patterson, and Charles Earland. And looming over the entire crowded field of B-3 pilots was Jimmy Smith (no relation).

Born John Robert Smith in Louisville, Kentucky, December 16, 1933, he has a mildly musical background: “My mother sang in the choir, my sister and others in the family were musical, but I’m the only one who became a professional.”

“My influences were Charlie Parker, Dizzy, Bud Powell, Art Tatum, all the people who were really happening in the mid-1940s. I guess you could say I made my professional debut at 15. I had a buddy who also played piano, and we’d both slip into a little club down the street and take turns playing for whatever they’d put in the kitty.”

Smith was 18 when he left Louisville. For a while, he lived in Cleveland, playing with groups led by saxophonist Jimmy Hinsley and guitarist Willie Lewis.Around the time he came of age, his ears were captivated by the sound of Wild Bill Davis, who had just begun to show the possibilities of transferring modern jazz sounds to the electric organ. Inspired by Davis, and also to some extent by Bill Doggett, Johnny gradually made the changeover from piano to organ himself.

Read more


Album Review
Read more articles



Opus de Funk

Prestige Records


Good 'Nuff

Fantasy Jazz


Open House

Fantasy Jazz


Soul Flowers

Prestige Records


The Soulful Blues

Prestige Records



Concord Music Group



Shop Amazon

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.