O.C. Smith had a long and varied career in the music business before coming to prominence as a pop singer in the late 60's. He nearly reached number one with a song that won a Grammy award.
He was born Ocie Lee Smith in Mansfield, Louisiana in 1932, and moved to Los Angeles when he was seven years old. From 1953 to 1957 he worked as an entertainer in the Air Force and toured with Horace Heidt. He sang with Sy Oliver and made an appearance on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts televison show, which led to a recording contract with the Cadence label.
Ocie's first single was a slow ballad titled Lighthouse that had the sound of seagulls dubbed in to the background. He also covered Sil Austin's Slow Walk. He followed Joe Williams as the vocalist with Count Basie from 1961 to 1963. Ocie worked with talented rock-and-roll songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, recording on the Big Top and Broadway labels.
A versatile entertainer adept at pop or soul, he changed his name to O.C. and started putting records on the pop and soul charts. His first entry in the top forty pop chart was O.C.'s version of Dallas Frazier's The Son Of Hickory Holler's Tramp in the Spring of 1968. He followed it later that year with Bobby Russell's Grammy-winning Little Green Apples, which reached number two and was by far O.C.'s biggest hit ever.
O.C. Smith recorded a number of albums and continued to have success, most notably with Daddy's Little Man in 1969 and some albums that he recorded on into the 70's.
O.C. Smith died suddenly at his home in Ladera Heights, California, on November 23, 2001. The song that he will always be remembered for is Little Green Apples.
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