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Huey ‘Piano’ Smith, R&B Great Who Gave World 'Boogie Woogie Flu', Dies at 89

Legendary R&B pianist and early rock 'n' roll pioneer Huey "Piano" Smith has died at the age of 89.

Smith passed away in his sleep on Tuesday at his home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His daughter, Acquelyn Donsereaux, confirmed the news to the New Orleans Times-Picayune/Advocate.

Smith was best known for his boogie-woogie piano style and recorded with many New Orleans musicians in the 1950s, including Little Richard, Lloyd Price and Earl King.

His most famous recording, "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu," was a minor hit in 1957 but had a lasting influence on music for decades to come.

The track was covered by many artists, including Johnny Rivers, Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen, John Fogerty, the Beach Boys, the Eagles, Jimmy Buffett and the Grateful Dead. 

Smith also wrote and recorded the 1958 single "Sea Cruise," which became a platinum-selling hit the following year when Frankie Ford replaced Smith's vocals on the track.

Smith's band, the Clowns, recorded several other popular tracks, including "Don't You Just Know It," which was inspired by a catchphrase often used by their then-driver Rudy Ray Moore. 

Moore, an entertainer and vocalist, went on to create the persona of Dolomite, leaving a lasting impression on the world of hip-hop and Black cinema as the driving force behind the creation of "blaxploitation" films.

In the early 1980s, Smith moved to Baton Rouge and mostly left music behind. However, in 2000 he returned to the stage to perform at the Rhythm and Blues Foundation gala in New York City. 

He received the foundation's Pioneer Award, which recognizes "the artistic contributions and excellence of legendary Rhythm & Blues artists who have impacted the world through their music."

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