Run-DMC Producer Larry Smith Passes
December 22, 2014 at 10:38 AM (PT)
LARRY SMITH, a hip-hop producer whose resume included RUN-D.M.C.'s first two album, died last THURSDAY at the age of 63, long known as the original "King Of Beats."
The QUEENS native began as a session musician, striking up a partnership with KURTIS BLOW after playing bass on "CHRISTMAS Rappin'." He co-wrote BLOW's hit, "The Breaks," the first rap record certified gold.
SMITH began a relationship with BLOW's then-manager RUSSELL SIMMONS, co-producing JIMMY SPICER – including the oft-sampled "Money (Dollar Bill Y'All)" – before collaborating on RUN-D.M.C.'s groundbreaking first single, "It's Like That" b/w "Sucker MCs," characterized by stark, gunshot drum machines. SIMMONS' brother JOE fronted the trio as REV RUN.
SMITH and SIMMONS co-produced their 1984 self-titled debut, and the '85 follow-up, "King Of Rock." SMITH helped establish the original rap-rock crossover when he hired EDDIE MARTINEZ, who had played with DAVID LEE ROTH and MEAT LOAF, to record guitar tracks for RUN-D.M.C.'s first two albums.
SMITH went on to produce the BROOKLYN trio WHODINI's first two albums, "Escape" (1984) and "Back In Black" (1986), both of which received substantial R&B airplay. SMITH's career slowed up after that, with his style of using real instruments increasingly replaced by a sample-oriented approach.
SMITH also produced records for THE FAT BOYS and his own influential group ORANGE KRUSH.
He reportedly suffered a stroke in 2007, leaving him partially paralyzed and unable to speak. JOE "REV RUN' SIMMONS and DARRYL McDANIELS took to TWITER to express their condolences.
"Rip to the greatest hip-hop producer of all times.... LARRY SMITH," wrote RUN. "Produced my biggest and most significant hits..."
Added McDANIELS: "Rest In Beats, LARRY SMITH Music In Your Heart Hip Hop Was Your Gift to The World! No one does it better!"
"LARRY put me inside his Cadillac," rapped RUN on their breakthrough single, "Sucker MCs," the very same one pictured in the video of "Rock Box," with Smith and the RUN-D.M.C. posse inside the car, while EDDIE MARTINEZ wailed away on the roof.
"He was one of the most important hip-hop producers to ever step into a recording studio, creating a sonic template that scores of artists would follow," wrote MEDIUM.COM. "His unique musical proficiency, combined with his insight into the emerging sounds of the streets, made him essential to the development of rap music."