Chicago Jazz Audio Experience

076 Chicago Music Revealed with Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith

July 28, 2020

Kenny Smith was unquestionably born into blues royalty. He grew up in the same house where Muddy Waters once lived in Chicago, the home of the blues. Throughout his childhood, Kenny was surrounded by Muddy and his friends, which included his own father, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith (1936-2011). These same blues icons helped mold him into the person and drummer he is today and later in life asked him to provide his famous backbeat on some of the largest and most respected stages and recordings in the world. Kenny has played thousands of live performances to date and has earned the right to wear that royal blues crown. His father, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, played drums for the Muddy Waters’ Band in the early 1960’s and then again from 1968 through 1980 and was featured on all of Muddy’s Grammy winning albums. Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith, one of the best known living blues drummers today, learned 99% of what he knows about drumming from his father and was also inspired by acclaimed drummers: Odie Payne, Fred Below, Earl Phillips, Louie Bellson, S.P. Leary, Francis Clay and Art Blakey, Sonny Payne, Clifton James and many others who paved the way. And with those experiences Kenny has revitalized and created new interpretations of the blues drummers as he pushes blues drumming to new innovative and tradition styles.