Huey “Piano” Smith, along with Fats Domino, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry, is among the first generation of American rock and roll performers and recording artists. In the late 1950s, he created high-charting hits that became classics — 1957’s “Rocking Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu,” 1958’s “Don’t You Just Know It” and 1959’s “Sea Cruise.”
In the 60-plus years since Smith recorded his most famous songs, those hits as well as his lesser-known songs have been recorded and/or performed by Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Rivers, Jason Isbell, Aerosmith, the Grateful Dead, Tom Jones, Paul Simon, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Buffett, KC and the Sunshine Band, Boz Scaggs, Patti LaBelle, Chubby Checker, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Professor Longhair, the Neville Brothers, Art Neville, Larry Williams and many more.
John Wirt, author of Huey “Piano” Smith and the Rocking Pneumonia Blues,” will speak about the unanticipated origin of the Smith biography, Smith’s life and achievements, his unique place in New Orleans music and the enduring influence and popularity of his songs.
About the Speaker:
John Wirt has written thousands of music and film stories and reviews for newspapers and magazines in Louisiana, Virginia and Florida. He’s also written for the national publications Billboard, Living Blues and Goldmine. In 2014, LSU Press published Huey “Piano” Smith and the Rocking Pneumonia Blues, Wirt’s biography of New Orleans songwriter, pianist and recording artist Huey “Piano” Smith. Reviews in Rolling Stone, Downbeat, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Times-Picayune, The Austin Chronicle, Living Blues, Richmond Magazine and other publications praised the book. Downbeat, for instance, cited it as “a thoroughly researched narrative” and “an account that’s as multidimensional as the musician.” In November 2022, Japan’s DU Books published the Japanese translation of Rocking Pneumonia Blues.
A native of Richmond, Va., Wirt has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from Virginia Commonwealth University. He worked as a professional musician prior to writing about music and film.