Hogg was born near Westconnie, Texas, United States and grew up on the farm and was taught to play guitar by his father Frank Hogg. While still in his teens he teamed up with a the slide guitarist and vocalist, B.K. Turner aka Black Ace and the pair travelled together playing the turpentine and logging camp circuit of country dance halls and juke joints that surrounded Kilgore, Tyler, Greenville and Palestine in East Texas.
In 1937 Smokey and Black Ace were brought to Chicago, Illinois by Decca Records to record, and Smokey had his first gramophone record (“Family Trouble Blues”/”Kind Hearted Blues”) released, as Andrew Hogg. It was an isolated occurrence - he did not make it back into a recording studio for over a decade. By the early 1940s Hogg was married and making a good living busking around the Deep Ellum area of Dallas, Texas.
Hogg was drafted in the mid 1940s and after a brief spell with the U.S. military, he continued working in the Dallas area where he was becoming well known. In 1947 he came to the attention of Herbert T. Rippa Sr, boss of the Dallas based record label, Bluebonnet Records, who recorded several sides with him and leased the masters to Modern Records.
The first release on Modern was the Big Bill Broonzy song “Too Many Drivers”, and this racked up sufficient sales to encourage Modern Records to bring Hogg out to Los Angeles, California to cut more sides with their team of studio musicians. These songs included his two biggest hits, “Long Tall Mama” in 1949 and another Broonzy tune “Little School Girl” (#9 U.S. R&B chart) in 1950.
Some blues fans tend to revere his two-part “Penitentiary Blues” (1952), which was a remake of the prison song, “Ain’t No More Cane on the Brazos”.
Hogg’s country blues style, influenced by Broonzy, Peetie Wheatstraw and Black Ace was popular with record buyers in the South during the late 1940s and early 1950s. He continued to work and record until the end of the 1950s, but died of cancer, or possibly a ruptured ulcer, in McKinney, Texas in 1960.
Smokey’s cousin, John Hogg, also played the blues, recording for Mercury in 1951.
Smokey was reputed to be a cousin of Lightnin’ Hopkins, and distantly related to Alger “Texas” Alexander, although both claims are ambiguous.
He is not to be confused with Willie “Smokey” Hogg, an imposter who was based in New York and recorded mostly after 1960, taking the name of “Smokey” after Andrew had died. He recorded mostly for Spivey Records, and his work is primarily a poor imitation of Lowell Fulson.[opinion] Although Andrew was the younger man, his sound represented an older style in Texas blues.
Westconnie Texas born R&B performer Andrew ‘Smokey’ Hogg (1914 - 1960) started his career playing the logging camp circuit of country dance halls and juke joints in East Texas. He first appears as a recording artist billed as Andrew Hogg on a one off 78rpm recorded in Chicago for Decca in 1937 (Family Trouble Blues/Kind Hearted Blues). He recorded the rest of his numerous sides in the post war blues music boom in the late 1940’s and on into 1958 when his last record came out on the Ebb label ( approx two years before his death from cancer in 1960).
His most prodigious output was on the Modern label, for whom he recorded over a 100 sides. Other labels he released songs in the interim on include Bluebonnet Records, Exclusive, Imperial, Mercury, Recorded in Hollywood, Specialty, fidelity, Top Hat, Ray’s, Show time, Federal, Combo, Bullet, Macy’s, and Sittin’ in With.
Some of his early hits were songs associated with fellow bluesman Big Bill Broonzy including his first release on Jules Bihari’s Modern imprint “Too many drivers”, and his smash “Little school girl” which hit #9 on the R&B charts in 1950.
Most tracks were him as the solo singer, although he did some duets, including some work with Hadda Brooks. While derided as a hack by some critics, his steady output of best selling discs and popularity in the early 1950s is testament to his talent and appeal.
Edited by midlifefanclub on 19 Nov 2012, 08:19
Sources (view history)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smokey_Hogg , Ace reissue liner notes, All Music Guide bio
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