Arthur Smith and his Crackerjacks got their careers started as a
family group while in high school in Kershaw, South Carolina. They
got their inspiration from their dad - who on Sundays was the director
of a big brass band that was the pride of Kershaw. They often tell of the
fact that their dad hoped they could play music every day of the week,
not just on Sundays. Arthur Smith and the Crackerjacks did that and some.
When World War II began, the group split up. Arthur was in Naval Transportation,
Sonny Smith was a radar man, Ralph Smith was an Army master sergeant.
Even while in the service, they kept up their musical aspirations, for on
leaves they would meet up in Washington to do some recordings. One of those
sessions resulted in "Guitar Boogie". You might say that became a hit - it
sold over 3,000,000 copies. They pressed a silver platter for the Library of Congress.
At the end of World War II, the group came to Charlotte and had done
over a 1,000 television shows, over 2,000 radio broadcasts, 2,500
personal appearances and 130 recordings! They decided to join radio
station WBT when they got out of the service around 1946. Three years
later, WBTV was on the air, too.
The family group hired a fellow by the name of Tommy Faile who Arthur
spoke highly of in 1947. The group had heard him on the radio and over
a phone call, they hired him. And that began the "Crossroads Quartet".
The band was pretty versatile in the instruments each could play and the
various roles they took as part of the act. Tommy Faile and Ralph Smith
were known as "Brother Ralph and Cousin Phud" in the comedy segments of their
act. The program even included a Sunday school lesson by Arthur and a
hymn by the entire group.
In early 1956, Arthur Smith and his Crackerjacks signed a three year
recording contract renewal with MGM records, which made them the dean
of the artists on the label at the time. MGM had also asked the group
to tour Europe as their recordings were popular in England, France,
Australia and Italy and even got a few toes tapping on the Gold Coast
Timeline and Trivia Notes
Group Members included:
- Arthur Smith, fiddle, banjo, mandolin, guitar, bass and trumpet
- Ralph Smith
- Sonny Smith
- Tommy Faile
Credits & Sources
- Country Song Roundup; Issue No. 10; February 1951;
Charlton Pub. Corp., Inc.; Derby, CT
- Country Song Roundup No. 43; April 1956; American Folk Publications, Inc.;