“Old soldiers never die,” stated HEADS HANDS & FEET in 1973, yet time is relentless, and the British ensemble’s soul, guitarist Ray Smith, passed away at the age of 78. This band might be mostly known for the presence of Albert Lee in their ranks, but it was Ray and his songwriting partner, singer Tony Colton, who created the group from the players that accompanied them in POET AND THE ONE MAN BAND and steered those musicians towards country rock, while providing other artists with quality material. And the artists in question would become legendary.
Ray and Tony served THE MERSEYBEATS with “I Stand Accused” and Zoot Money with “Big Time Operator” as early as in, respectively, 1965 and 1966; they gave CREAM “The Coffee Song” and “Negotiations in Soho Square” to THE TREMELOES a bit later; whereas the ’70s saw Aynsley Dunbar do their “The Days I Remember” and Don Everly record their “Did It Rain” – although not before Shirley Bassey laid down “The Sea And Sand” and, of course, “Country Boy” turned into a staple for the aforementioned Lee – first preserved for posterity with HH&F. Smith would go on to work with Carl Wayne from THE MOVE and Jerry Lee Lewis, compose for Leo Sayer who had his “Rumours” delivered by the elite performers, and work as producer.
Smith remained active for decades and will be missed by many who were touched by his melodic talent and good-natured humor.