Sunday, September 16, 2007

Tex Williams - Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! - '68

Country singer Tex Williams was born in Illinois in 1917.

He was among the performers who helped popularize Western Swing music, moving a rural and acoustic sound into more
dance band-oriented 'countrypolitan' territory.

Following a move to California in 1942, he did a stint with
Spade Cooley's band.
His affiliation with Cooley ended in 1946, after signing a contract as a solo artist with Capitol Records.

By far his biggest career hit record came in 1947 with
'Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)', a hugely popular song that pointed out the folly of tobacco smoking.
The song was largely written by Merle Travis with Williams in mind, as a way to showcase his distinctive 'talking blues' style of vocals.

Tex Williams would continue on as a succesful performer for many years, though never again reaching the height attained from that one record.

I found this later version of the song on one of many curious mixtapes I have in an old pile of cassettes.

Williams had released the song on a 45 in 1968, updating it into an about-face, countering the previous version's anti-smoking stance.

Go figure.

Tex williams passed away in 1985, after a battle with lung cancer.
His daughter was quoted as saying, "He tried to quit, but he couldn't", adding that he'd managed to drop from two packs of cigarettes a day to about one before he died.

Listen to: Tex Williams - Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! - '68
Boone label 45 (1968)

(click for audio)

See also: (click for links)
- Tex Williams' bio page at AllMusic

- A late 1950's TV performance from Tex Ritter's 'Ranch Party', over at YouTube. Wiiliams gives further example of his 'talking blues' delivery on 'That's What I Like About The West'.


Anonymous said...

I have a version of Sammy Davis Jr. doing this song that is really good. Sammy died of lung cancer as well...

Anonymous said...

I have looked for any evidence that this song even EXISTED for years! I don't think I've even heard it since the late '60s, when I was a pre-teen, and heard it played on KIEV and KBBQ (both Los Angeles area country stations at that time...)

LaVonne said...

Love the old-school style tat on Williams' hand. That's how tattoos are supposed to look!

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