One of the most in demand blues and rock guitarists in the world is a mysterious character who goes by the name of G.E. Smith. Millions of TV viewers know his face — and the shock of an unruly blond ponytail that was always falling across it — from his tenure fronting the Saturday Night Live Band.
G.E. Smith will rock the house at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey’s Performing Arts Center on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014.
Show time is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $32 and may be ordered online at www.stockton.edu/pac or by calling the Box Office at (609) 652-9000. The Box Office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 90 minutes before the performance. For group sales, call (609) 652-4786.
For G.E. (George Edward) Smith, a soulful guitarist, composer, singer, and bandleader, it all began in rural Stroudsburg, PA, where he was just about born with a guitar in his hand.
“I started playing around the age of 4, and started getting good at 7,” Smith says. “Eventually, the girlfriend of one of my uncles bought me a Martin, a real good guitar, in 1959.”
On his 11th birthday, Smith’s mother bought him his first electric guitar, a Fender Telecaster, a model that to dated his birth year, 1952.
“I still have that guitar, and there’s no sound that I can’t find in it,” Smith said.
By then he was supporting himself as a musician.
Smith was hired to play lead guitar for Hall and Oates, racking up hit after hit with songs like “Private Eyes,” “Man Eater,” “Kiss on My List,” and others.
Smith led the SNL band for 10 years (1985 – 1995). It was arguably the best late-night band on television at the time and it earned him an Emmy. The SNL roster of guest musicians read like a Who’s Who of contemporary music: Eddie Van Halen, Keith Richards, Rickie Lee Jones, Al Green, Bryan Ferry, et al.
Many of the best musical (surprise) moments came when Smith invited guitar heroes to play with the band, unannounced. Eddie Van Halen was the first, followed by an amazing roster that included David Gilmour, Lonnie Mack, Dave Edmonds, Johnny Winter, Buddy Guy, and others. The Buddy Guy visit eventually resulted in the 1996 Grammy-nominated Buddy Guy – Live CD, with Smith and the SNL band.
“I’ve been so lucky to get into these fantasy situations … that happened over and over on SNL. I got to play with everybody,” Smith said.
SNL also provided Smith with a songwriting opportunity when Mike Myers asked him to help write a tune.
“Mike had this bit, called Wayne’s World, and he needed a theme song. Aerosmith was the musical guest that week, so Mike and I sat down and wrote a song that Aerosmith could sing and play along with.”
Of course the “bit” became a hit film, the soundtrack (and song) a platinum-selling smash hit.
During his SNL years Smith was also honored to be the musical director for special events such as the 1988 Emmy Awards, the 1993 Rhythm and Blues Foundation Awards and the Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert at Madison Square Garden.
— News release from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey