Claydes Charles Smith, lead guitarist of Kool & the Gang, has died at the age of 57. According to his publicist, Smith passed away on Tuesday in Maplewood, New Jersey, following a long illness.
Smith, a founder member of the band, was introduced to jazz guitar by his father in the early sixties. By the late sixties, he was part of a group of musicians in New Jersey who would later become Kool & The Kang, who of course became one of the biggest groups of the seventies with their blend of jazz, pop and funk. Smith wrote the hit songs ‘Joanna’ and ‘Take My Heart’, whilst collaborating on the likes of ‘Celebration,’ ‘Hollywood Swinging’ and ‘Jungle Boogie.’ He toured with the group until January of this year, when illness forced him to take a step back.
He is survived by six children and nine grandchildren.