Fiddler Robert Lee “Bob” Smith died on December 21, 2012, at the age of 94.
Bob Smith grew up in Campobello, South Carolina, and got started with music when he was about nine years old. His dad played the mandolin and guitar and taught him some basic chording, G, C, and D. Bob’s first tune was “Old Brown Jug.” Around age 15, Bob began playing the fiddle. He listened to fiddlers on radio station WFBC in Greenville, South Carolina, and WBT in Charlotte, North Carolina, and learned tunes by ear. He began playing for square dances around the South Carolina/North Carolina border near his home in Campobello.
By the 1930s Bob was playing on radio shows in Greenville and Greenwood, South Carolina. In 1940 he was working on his father’s farm, and while he was on lunch break, he heard on the radio that Fisher Hendley needed a fiddler in his band, the Aristocratic Pigs, on radio station WIS in Columbia. Bob went to the old Jefferson Hotel in Columbia with his fiddle, where Hendley asked him, “Can you play that thing?” Smith played his fiddle briefly for Hendley, who then immediately put him on the air on their live radio show. He remained with the Aristocratic Pigs until 1942.
Bob remained in the Columbia, South Carolina, area the rest of his life, and continued playing the fiddle.