Jive Kings / Billy Smith and the Jive Kings

Akron, 1958-61?

The Jive Kings were a family-based act including brothers ans cousins. The band was fronted by Billy Smith on vocals and guitar, and the band was chaperoned by father Carl Smith.

In 1959, The Ze Lounge in Akron, owned by Lou Kapolka, hired the Jive Kings for a weekend gig, and the band was an instant hit, and Lou booked the band for six months. During this engagement, the band recorded a couple songs up in Cleveland and Lou released them on a 45 under the "Lu" name, taken from his own name of course, with no relation to the Tennesee based label. The songs - "Preacher Man" and "Johnny Machine", both credited to Carl Smith, are high powered blastin' rockers, similar to fellow Rubber City cats Bill Allen and the Caps, rock with no traces of 'billy.

According to Lou Kapolka, the Jive Kings were a close-knit group that played the gigs, hung out with fans, and left without incident. A teenaged David Allen Coe would sneek in and sing with the band on occasion.

After the band ended the Ze Lounge gig, they re-recorded "Johnny Machine" and another Carl Smith song for Ann White's White Star label. Both versions of "Johnny.." are equally strong, with the White Star take a little better recorded. Billy Smith continued to perform, but his (and the other Jive Kings) whereabouts are unknown.

Singer Lee Rand recorded "Preacher Man" in the mid 1960s, there is thought to be some connection between Rand and the Jive Kings, but it's still unknown to us.

Thanks to Lou Kapolka