Singer Lonnie Smith, musician behind Village People hits, dies

Image copyright Erik Wahlbank Soulful jazz organist Lonnie Smith has died at the age of 79, reported BBC reporters in US and Canada. The guitarist was one of the most influential members of the…

Singer Lonnie Smith, musician behind Village People hits, dies

Image copyright Erik Wahlbank

Soulful jazz organist Lonnie Smith has died at the age of 79, reported BBC reporters in US and Canada.

The guitarist was one of the most influential members of the Village People band and also became a prolific songwriter and recording artist.

He died at his home in California with his family by his side, it was confirmed.

Smith’s 1969 album Days of Our Lives was given a ’70s Grammy for best R&B album.

Bollywood actress Madhuri Dixit posted a picture of herself and Smith to her Instagram account.

“Lonnie was an artiste all his life & he left a legacy of perfectionism,” she wrote.

Smith’s music was famous for being of an ever-changing mood.

Smith told the BBC’s Asian Network that changing moods were part of his definition of different “soul”.

As a guitarist, Smith described how he stuck to playing “to the subtlety of the notes and the wiry-like-ness of the guitar strings”.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption The Village People on Top of the Pops

The Village People was founded in Los Angeles by Smith, Mickey Munoz, Pedro Garcia and Robert Warren.

The group was known for their satirical music. In 1979, in what has been described as one of the most awkward pop moments of all time, the band burst on to Top of the Pops with their single Do It Again.

Smith and Munoz both remained in the group until it was disbanded in the mid-1980s.

Smith went on to form the group The Smiths with keyboardist and producer Charlie Morgan, and later recorded with the Roland Tempo orchestra and was a session guitarist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.

Smith returned to recording music with four albums, including 2007’s Driving Rain.

In 2013, Smith worked with The Doors star Robby Krieger on piano on his New York-era hit True Colour.

Smith is survived by his wife Rosemarie Smith and three daughters.

The funeral will be held in Los Angeles on Monday.

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