Buster Smith

SMITH, HENRY [BUSTER] (1904–1991). Henry “Buster” Smith, jazzsaxophone player, was born on August 24, 1904, in Alsdorf, Texas. His early musical influences included his father (who played guitar). At age four, Buster was playing the organ with his brother, pianist Boston Smith. Soon thereafter, his grandfather gave away the family organ because he believed it would only direct Buster to a life of sin. By the time Smith was eighteen, however, he had learned how to play organ, guitar, alto saxophone, and clarinet. He bought his first clarinet in 1922 for $3.50, which he raised by picking more than 2,000 pounds of cotton in five days. Smith played alto saxophone and clarinet with the Voddie White Trio in Dallas. In 1923 he got a professional gig playing alto saxophone with medicine shows; he had to play very loudly because that attracted more customers. His loudness later added to his style. Oran “Hot Lips” Page‘s Blue Devils asked Buster to play alto saxophone with them in 1925, and fame followed. Smith played with Page, Lester Young, Count Basie, Jimmy Rushing, and Emir (Bucket) Coleman until 1933, when Page was replaced by Bennie Moten. They toured the Kansas City area and the Midwest, playing jazz for

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