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CAL SMITH (1932-2013)
Country singer Cal Smith, whose real name was Calvin Grant Shofner, died on Thursday, Oct. 10 in Branson, Mo. He was 81.
Born in Gans, Okla., Shofner migrated with his family and many other Depression-era job seekers to California in search of work. They settled in the Bay Area, where he began performing in area nightclubs and cafes at age 15.
His break came when Ernest Tubb caught his act and gave him a job with his Texas Troubadours. Offered a solo contract with Kapp Records, Shofner changed his stage name to Cal Smith and released his first single, “I’ll Just Go Home,” in 1966.
Following several other minor hits, he signed with Decca Records in 1970. Chart success came his way in 1972 with “I’ve Found Someone of My Own,” which peaked in the Top 5; his first No. 1 single, Bill Anderson’s “The Lord Knows I’m Drinking,” followed a few months later.
Smith’s second No. 1, “Country Bumpkin,” won a CMA Single of the Year Award in 1974, along with nominations for Male Vocalist of the Year and Album of the Year; Garth Brooks often played the song at his concert sound checks and referred to it as his favorite Country single.
One more chart-topping single, “It’s Time to Pay the Fiddler,” came in 1975. A string of other singles and albums sold respectfully, up to his 1986 album King Lear.
Here’s a YouTube video of Smith performing “Country Bumpkin”: