AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EUGENE SMILEY, Sr. I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. As a child I was raised by grandparents in a small town in Brookhaven, Mississippi, and by more relatives in Kansas City, Missouri. In my family, music was a very important part of our family values. At an early age, I was very much involved in music. My Aunt Hazel and my Uncle Charles were my childhood mentors. I wanted to be just like them when I grew up. My father was a gospel singer and sang tenor for a gospel group called The Pilgram Travelers. They were the ones that followed their dreams and became successful and famous doing what they loved to do. I learned to play the piano when I was very young. I played piano for the youth church choir and, as I got older, I began to listen to blues and R&B music. My parents didn't like it but I did it any way. They had to face it. I was a part of my destiny. They didn't try to stop me but they told me that this kind of music was the devil's music, and I would suffer and pay a lot of dues. When they would leave me home alone, I'd play that devil music on the piano every chance I got. After graduating from Alexander High school in May 1960, I decided to make Kansas City my home. In October of 1968, I left Kansas City and move to Chicago. There I became a member of a young vocal group that later became known as 'The Visitors'. We recorded on the Dakar label under the management of Mr. Carl Davis. Our biggest seller was 'Until You Came Along' (which was No. 1 on the R&B charts in 1968 and stayed in JET magazine for 9 months). We also had a great sell in 'I'm In Danger'. Those were the good times. It couldn't get any better than that. I thought I was on top of the world. My music career seemed to have taken off to a good start. I remember Carl Davis telling me that it don't last forever. You will be on top as long as someone is spending money on you to keep you on top. And that's the way the music business operates. Carl also told me that he would teach me everything need to know to become successful in this business. And he did. In 1974, after my recording contract expired, I decided to go on the road as a guitar player and vocalist. During this time I had the opportunity to play with such great as Al Green, Bobby Womack, Rufus Thomas, the late great Johnny Taylor, and the late great Mr. Albert King, just to mention a few. These were fun times. In 1976, I decided to return to Kansas City and finish college and raise my 7 kids. At this time in my life with the knowledge gained from my past experience and in addition to remembering my conversation with Mr, Carl Davis, I knew what to expect in the music business. At this time I put together the vocal group 'The Essence Of Love'. With this group I became Writer, Arranger, and Producer, along with Keith Montgomery and Albert White. We established K-City Record Company. Our biggest hits were 'We're Lovers Day and Night', 'Yes, it's you', 'Share My Love', and 'Marry Me'. In 1979, during the disco era and programmed music, I faded out of the music scene and remained inactive until 1987. When I started back, I started playing gospel. I gradually began to work my way back into Blues and Rhythm & Blues. In 1992 I was on the road again. I did a cross country tour in 1995 and 1996 with Brody Buster (the 8 year old harmonica protégé) and the B.W.B. Show Band. We did many great shows together all across the country. Bottom line, Music has been good to me and will always be a part of my life.
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