Arthur Smith, a gifted musician and songwriter who played many instruments, died just two days after he turned 93 years old. Arthur Smith, who lived in Charlotte, North Carolina, passed away on Thursday, according to a report from Billboard on Friday.
Smith is best known for having written a song that became extremely popular – not only because it is a great instrumental song for stringed instruments - banjos and guitars - but because it was performed in a very popular motion picture. Smith named his song “Feudin’ Banjos” but it became incredibly popular as “Dueling Banjos” when it was performed in the 1972 motion picture “Deliverance.” (Video attached)
Smith - whose nickname was 'Guitar Boogie' so that he wouldn't be confused with violinist Arthur Smith - originally wrote “Feudin’ Banjos” in 1955 as a banjo instrumental song. When the song became popular, Smith was not properly credited as the composer. The matter was settled by a lawsuit in which Smith was given proper songwriting credit – as well as the songwriter royalties that accompanied the song’s success.
Other songs written by Smith were performed by such country music legends as Roy Orbison, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Chet Atkins, and Glen Campbell.
Additionally, Smith hosted “Carolina Calling” – a variety show on Charlotte’s WBTV station. He also had a nationally syndicated television show called “The Arthur Smith Show” sometime later. His second television show is reportedly the first country music program ever broadcast.
In the movie "Deliverance," Billy Reddin is the boy with the banjo and actor Ronny Cox is the adult with the guitar when "Dueling Banjos" is performed. Arthur Smith received an Academy Award nomination for the song in 1972, but "Ben" which was written by Don Black and Walter Scharf - and recorded by Michael Jackson - won the Oscar for the movie which was also called "Ben."