They met in 1950 while playing with Tommy Magness and the Tennessee Buddies. During this time period, they played frequently at different venues such as the El-Tenedore Skating Rink in southern Virginia. The first records that Don and Red made together were with Tommy Magness in 1951 for Federal Records, a subsidiary of King Records.
Later in 1951, Don and Red left Magnus to play with Toby Stroud in Wheeling, West Virginia on radio station WWVA (AM). Soon after this, Don and Red reformed a band that Don had started some years before: The Tennessee Cut-Ups.
In 1952, Reno and Smiley and the Tennessee Cut-Ups made their first recordings for King Records. Among this session was one of the band’s most famous gospel songs, “I’m Using My Bible for a Roadmap” which was written by Don Reno in 1950. The sales of this record reportedly saved King Records from bankruptcy. Don Reno, Red Smiley and the Tennessee Cut-Ups continued recording for King Records but did no live performances until the mid ’50s which is now known to most Reno and Smiley fans as the beginning of their “Glory Years” which lasted until they disbanded in 1964.
At this time, Don began traveling with Benny Martin and Red formed a band called the Bluegrass Cut-Ups which continued to perform on a television program that Don and Red did together for many years. When Red retired in the late 1960’s, Jim Eanes acquired the band renaming it “The Shenandoah Cutups”. It wasn’t until 1970 or ‘71 that Don and Red began performing together again, and that time was short-lived as Red died in 1972 at the age of 46 due to complications with diabetes. Don continued to perform with his sons Don Wayne and Dale along with Bill Harrell until his death in 1984 at the age of 58. In 1992, Don Reno and Red Smiley were inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor.
Edited by JChamberlain on 31 Mar 2009, 11:37
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