King Edward Smith IV - Entertainer Disc Jockey
King Edward Smith IV (his real name) was born on July 13, 1929 in Saltville Virginia. He came from a family of thirteen children and due to poor conditions at home, had to work as a child to help support his mother, younger brothers and sisters. At age 15 he joined the Air Force. To quote him "It seemed to be the only chance for me to make something of myself". Smitty attended school while in the service and graduated. He considered himself to be a self educated man. After leaving the service he started to pursue his musical career.
It all started in music for Smitty when he made his first public appearance before Franklin D. and Mrs. Roosevelt, who just happened to be at a folk music festival at White Mountain. He played guitar and harmonica at the same time. His parents were English which is why his they gave him the name "King Edward Smith IV". His father, Press Smith was a Baptist minister. His uncle Hobart Smith and his aunt Texas Gladden were country music legends. Their music is on file in the Library of Congress.
Living in Saltville in the 1930's and 40's there wasn't much to do, so Smitty taught himself to play the piano and worked up to an old pump organ, then the mandolin, the guitar and finally the electric guitar. King Edward's family did little to capitalize financially on his musical abilities, but he was determined to do something with it. He never dreamed it would be in radio. In 1949 Smitty was on WMEV in Marion, Virginia playing music with Cousin Zeke Leonard and this lasted until 1951. He really couldn't find the right niche. He tried other jobs, even working for the Smyth County News. This really didn't satisfy his yearning for music. He tried television as a film editor, but radio was where he functioned best. He worked in Bluefield at WHIS Radio and Television and came to Roanoke and became a member of the Tide Family on WSLS-TV. The road kept calling Smitty and he would continue to play music with numerous bands including Don Gibson, Mac Wiseman, Jam-up, and Honey. For a while he worked as a staff musician for WCYB in Bristol, along with Flatt and Scruggs, the Stanley Brothers and Charlie Monroe. He even played his music over WSM in Nashville and appeared on the West Virginia Barn Dance on WWVA in Wheeling.
Smitty's wandering brought him in contact with singer Cecil Surratt of Bluefield, West Virginia. One needed a singer and the other needed a guitar player, so they formed a partnership. They recorded Smitty's arraignment of "This Land Is Your Land". Unfortunately three weeks later the Kingston Trio also recorded the tune and their version became the hit.
In 1964, George Chernault & Herm Reavis heard Smitty Smith on radio station WKWS in Rocky Mount, Virginia and what impressed them the most was Smitty's real name, King Edward Smith IV. Being a promotion man Herm saw the possibilities and he and Smitty began a relationship that made WSLC the number one station in the market for 17 years.
King Edward was sought as a master of ceremonies for local country shows and the biggest names in country music were his closest friends. He received gold record plaques from Elvis, Dolly Parton, Waylon Jennings, John Conlee, Jeanie Pruett and Willie Nelson. Record companies present these plaques to leading radio stations who help break national hit records. Because of his talent to recognize a hit song, Billboard magazine called him the most knowledgeable music director in country music.
Included in his many awards, King Edward was a nominee for the 1979 Country Music Association of the Announcer of Year award - medium market and in 1981 was chosen the winner! His band, the Knights, played the Greenbrier, the Homestead and the Congressional Country Club in Maryland in addition to local clubs. King Eward & the Knights played all genres of music from simi-classical to hard rock! Smitty liked it all, but country was his favorite.
King Edward Smith IV passed away April 23, 1981 at the age of 51.