This is a rather scarce 10" LP from Willie Smith. The card shows his signature along with that of Harry James around 1958 in Wichita, Kansas. Happy Birthday Mr. Smith and thanks for being so kind to a young kid who delayed your break for an autograph.
Willie Smith was born William McLeish Smith November 25, 1910 in Charleston, South Carolina. Willie Smith,Johnny Hodges and Benny Carter were considered the top three alto saxophone players of the swing era. He also played clarinet and sang.
Willie Smith's first instrument was clarinet and his education was in chemistry. He received his chemistry degree from Fisk University. Nevertheless in 1929 he became an alto saxophonist for Jimmie Lunceford's band. He would be one of the main stars in Lunceford's group and in 1940 had his own quintet as a side project. His success with Lunceford had lost its charms by 1942 as he now wanted more pay and less travel. He then switched to Harry James's orchestra, where he made more money, and stayed with him for seven years. After that he later worked with Duke Ellington and Billy May. In 1954 he returned to Harry James's band. Added to all this he was involved in Jazz at the Philharmonic and worked with Nat King Cole.
He died of cancer March 7,1967 in Los Angles, California.
(Oh yes, the other autograph on that card is that of Harry James.)
Things ain't what they used to be. (In fact, they never was.)