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Cal Smith dies at 81

Friday, October 11, 2013 – Singer Cal Smith, 81, the voice behind Country Bumpkin and other hits, died Thursday n Branson, Mo.

Born in Gans, Okla. on April 7, 1932, Smith began his music career performing at the Remember Me Cafe in San Francisco at the age of 15, but he was not financially successful. During the 1950s, he worked various jobs, including truck driving and bronco busting.

Smith worked as a on-air personality for KEEN in San Jose, Cal. before joining Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadours on rhythm guitar in 1962. He later signed with Kapp Records after leaving Tubb's band in 1966. He first charted with his second single, The Only Thing I Want."

He released his first solo album, "Drinking Champagne," in 1969. The album's title track had reached the Top 40 on the country charts the previous year.

Smith's career took off when he signed with Decca in 1970. He had a 1972 top 10 hit, I've Found Someone of My Own. He began recording songs written by some of the biggest names in the industry; for instance, in March 1973, his rendition of Bill Anderson's The Lord Knows I'm Drinking hit number one.

Smith earned CMA Single of the Year honors in 1974 for It's Time To Pay The Fiddler He also had a hit with Bill Anderson's "he Lord Knows I'm Drinking. which became a number one country hit for Decca Records. In 1974, Smith scored with Country Bumpkin, the Country Music Association's song and single of the year and the Academy of Country Music's song of the year.

Smith later signed with MCA and had more hits with them. Smith released his last album, "Stories of Life by Cal Smith," in 1986 on Step One Records, where he had a minor hit that year with King Lear.

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