Smokey Hogg

b. Andrew Hogg, January 27, 1914 in Westconnie, TX, d. May 1, 1960 in McKinney, TX. Born in north-east Texas, Smokey came from a clan that included blues singers Lightnin’ Hopkins and John Hogg. He learned to play the guitar and piano early in life under the instruction of his father, Frank. One of seven children, he looked upon music as a means of escape from labour in the fields. He sang around Dallas and Greenville and was popular enough to be known as Little Peetie Wheatstraw after his idol. He played in clubs with men such as B.K. Turner (Black Aces) and D.C. Bender. In 1937 he recorded two tracks for Decca Records, which, although much valued by collectors, made no impression on the blues-buying public of the time. During World War II he was drafted and served in the US Army, but by 1947 he was in Los Angeles, where he recorded for the Exclusive label, again without much success.

His breakthrough came after he had moved back to Texas where he recorded ‘Too Many Drivers’, released under Modern Records in 1947. Back in Los Angeles, but still for Modern, he recorded his biggest hit, ‘Little School Girl’. Now established, he began, like many of his contemporaries, to hop from label to label, recording for Specialty, Imperial, SIW, Mercury and many smaller concerns. He enjoyed a good deal of popularity, especially with older fans, and this allowed him to survive the initial impact of rock ‘n’ roll. Hogg’s work seems to be something of an acquired taste and collectors are divided quite violently when judging its worth. He had no such problems with his black audience when his rural blues were sung to a small (often saxophone-led) band accompaniment and were appearing on labels from Texas to the coast.