Huey “Piano” Smith, who backed Little Richard, Lloyd Price and other early rock stars, died on February 13, 2023, at the age of 89, media reports said Monday.

The news of his death was told by his daughter, Acquelyn Donsereaux, to The Associated Press. According to Donsereaux, Smith died in his sleep at his home in Baton Rouge. She did not cite a specific cause of death.

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Who was Huey ‘Piano’ Smith?

Huey Pierce Smith, known as Huey “Piano” Smith, was an American rhythm-and-blues pianist. He was one of the last survivors of musicians and songwriters who helped make New Orleans a fundamental influence on rock ‘n’ roll.

Smith grew up in the Uptown section of New Orleans. He wrote his first song “Robertson Street Boogie”, named after the street where he lived.

At the age of 15, he began playing professionally and in his 20s helped out on numerous ’50s hits, including Price’s Where You At?, Earl King’s Those Lonely Lonely Nights and Smiley Lewis’ I Hear You Knocking. He worked with Little Richard, Fats Domino and David Bartholemew among many others.

In 1957, he formed Huey “Piano” Smith and the Clowns and reached the top 10 with Rockin’ Pneumonia.

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Smith’s popularity faded after the Beatles arrived and by 1980 he had quit the business. He then settled in Baton Rouge with his wife, Margrette, and become a Jehovah’s Witness.

“To me he was the man who got more out of simplicity than anybody in New Orleans,” drummer Earl Palmer told Wirt.

In 2000, Smith received a Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation and he was honoured a year later by the Louisiana Blues Hall of Fame.

He is survived by his wife, 10 children, 18 grandchildren and 47 great grandchildren, his daughter told the AP.