From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Smith, John Robert [Johnny Hammond]

(born: 1931  -  died: 1997) 

John Robert Smith, born in Louisville, KY, was an organist who also played piano and acoustic piano, electronic keyboard and synthesizers; he also wrote songs.

Smith left Kentucky to begin his career in Cleveland, OH, and after performing on the Hammond organ, he used the name Johnny Hammond Smith, performing under that name while an accompanist with Nancy Wilson.

In the 1950s he moved to New York, where he had his own group while recording with other bands. In 1971, he performed on keyboards under the name Johnny Hammond. When he returned to playing the Hammond organ and recorded with Hank Crawford and Dan Papaila, he resumed using the name Johnny Hammond Smith.

Smith is recognized as an organist who promoted the Hammond organ in soul and jazz music and a renowned Hammond B-3 organist.

John Robert Smith died in California, where he had been teaching music at Cal Poly Pomona [California State Polytechnic University, Pomona].

For more see "Johnny Hammond" in the Oxford Music Online Database and in The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music. For an extensive list of his recordings, see Johnny Hammond on the  Discogs website.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Jefferson County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Louisville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Oxford Music Online (database)
NKAA Source: The Guinness encyclopedia of popular music 2nd ed.

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Smith, John Robert [Johnny Hammond],” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 29, 2022,

Last modified: 2020-12-08 17:48:50