Monthly Archives: June 2011

Electric Guitar Pioneer Floyd Smith on 1930s Jazz and Django

One of the first electric guitarists on record, Floyd Smith played an important role in jazz from the 1930s through the 1950s. Born in 1917 and raised in St. Louis, he first went on the road in 1934 with Eddie Johnson’s St. Louis Crackerjacks. Two years later he joined the Jeter-Pillars Club Plantation Orchestra, playing both standard and Hawaiian-style guitar onstage. In August 1937 Smith used an electric guitar to solo on Jeter-Pillars recording of “Lazy Rhythm.” In 1938, while on tour with the Sunset Royal Entertainers, he was spotted by Andy Kirk, who recruited him for his Twelve Clouds of Joy. During his March 16, 1939, session with Andy Kirk, Smith recorded “Floyd’s Guitar Blues,” the first hit record to feature a blues-style solo played on an electric guitar. Continue reading