Passings: Arthur Smith

Arthur Smith, 93, a bluegrass musician who wrote and recorded the sizzling instrumentals "Guitar Boogie" and "Feuding Banjos," died Thursday at his home in Charlotte, N.C., his family announced. No cause was given.

"Guitar Boogie," recorded with the Rambler Trio and showcasing Smith on guitar, helped inspire a country boogie trend when it was released in 1945. Three years later, after the MGM record label reissued it, the song rose to No. 8 on Billboard magazine's country popularity chart.

In 1955 Smith recorded "Feuding Banjos," which featured the interplay of his tenor banjo with Don Reno's five-string banjo; the number became a popular bluegrass tune that was featured in the 1972 film "Deliverance," without crediting Smith. He took on Warner Bros., filing a lawsuit and winning a substantial settlement.

"Dueling Banjos" was later used in a commercial for Mitsubishi automobiles.

Smith and his band, the Crackerjacks, served up country music and sly humor on a Carolina TV variety program in the 1950s and then a syndicated regional show that featured such guests as Billy Graham and Johnny Cash.

Born in Clinton, S.C., on April 1, 1921, Smith grew up in Kershaw, S.C., where his father worked in a cotton mill and led a brass band. As a child, Smith played trumpet in the mill group. He played in a Dixieland group with his brothers, Ralph and Sonny, and later mastered the mandolin, fiddle and guitar, among other instruments.

Beginning in 1957, Smith also ran a recording studio in Charlotte frequented by national artists including Cash, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, Pat Boone, Ronnie Milsap, George Beverly Shea and the Statler Brothers.

James Brown rented the studio in 1965 for three hours and cut "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," which later ranked No. 72 in Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

Times staff and wire reports

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