Known by the nickname Professor Smith, he was a mentor to Charlie Parker and pioneer of the Texas Sax Sound. He played with artists like Duke Ellington.
He learned how to play organ at the age of four and went on to master many instruments. He performed with medicine shows in Dallas, as well as with the Voodie White Trio.
He was a member of the Blue Devils when the line-up featured many greats, including Lester Young and Count Basie.
He was born and raised in Alsdorf, right outside of Dallas.
He collaborated with Pete Johnson's Boogie-Woogie Boys.