Otis "Big Smokey" SmothersOtis "Big Smokey" Smothers was born on 21/03/1929 in Lexington, Mississippi. He was the older brother of another blues musician Little Smokey Smothers. His aunt taught him to play the harmonica and the guitar.
In 1946, Otis moved to Chicago. His first performance was with Johnny Williams and Johnny "Man" Young.
In the early 1950s. Smothers would play alongside his cousin Lester Davenport, as well as Arthur "Big Boy" Spires, Earl Hooker, Henry Strong and Bo Diddley.
In the late 1950s, Smothers helped to form the Muddy Waters Junior Band as a tribute to Waters. When Waters went on tour, the band would hold down Waters's residency gigs in Chicago, performing his songs. The band would act as a training ground for potential future members of Water's backing band. Both Smothers and fellow Junior Band member George "Mojo" Buford would eventually join Muddy Waters's band.
In 1956 and in 1957 , Howlin' Wolf asked Smothers to play rhythm guitar on some recordings for Chess Records. These recordings included "Who's Been Talking," "Tell Me," "Change My Way," "Goin' Back Home," "The Natchez Burning," and "I Asked for Water".
In 1960, Smothers signed a record contract with Federal Records.
In 1962, Smothers released the album "Smokey Smothers Sings the Backporch Blues". The album was produced by Sonny Thompson and featured Freddie King on lead guitar. He would later record another session that produced four tracks including the song "Twist with Me Annie".
In 1968, Smothers played on Muddy Water's "I Got My Eyes on You". Smothers was a part-time member of Muddy Water's backing band. Smothers wrote several songs for Waters. These included "I've Been Drinking Muddy Water", "Ain't Gon Be No Monkey Man", and "Can't Judge Nobody".
Through the 1970s, Smothers career went through a lean period.
In 1986, Smothers released the album "Got My Eyes on You" with Red Beans Records. He called his backing band the Ice Cream Men, which was a reference to his early job as an ice cream vendor in the 1950s.
In July 1993, Smothers died in Chicago. He had been suffering in his later years from heart disease.
His daughter is in the process of bringing the life stories of Smothers and his younger brother Abe (Little Smokey Smothers) to the big screen.