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Passings: Danny Smythe, Original Drummer of the Box Tops (1948 - 2016)

by VVN Music

Danny Smythe, the original drummer for the Box Tops, died on Wednesday. No further details have been released on his passing.

Smythe was an art major in college before getting into music as a profession. Self taught on the drums, he was a co-founder, in 1963, of the Memphis based band The Devilles who became popular in the region. He made his national debut in 1966, when he appeared on Ted Mack's Amateur Hour.

In January 1967, Smythe was the only remaining founding member of the band who now also included Alex Chilton, John Evans, Bill Cunningham, Gary Talley and Larry Spillman. Changing their name to the Box Tops, they went in the studio with producer Dan Penn and recorded their first single, The Letter. It became a international smash, going to number 1 in the U.S. and Canada, number 4 in Australia and number 5 in the U.K.

Their followup, Neon Rainbow, did not fare as well, only reaching number 24, but they surged back in early 1968 with Cry Like a Baby which hit number 2.

By the time Cry Like a Baby was released, by Smythe and Evans had left the band to go back to school, allowing them a draft deferment. Danny went on to form the group The Fifth Movement, playing soul music after being influenced by the artists like Wilson Pickett with which the Box Tops had toured.

After four years with The Fifth Movement, Danny returned to Memphis where he played in a blues oriented band but, in the late-70's, he left the music business and returned to the world of art, at first painting murals in restaurants but eventually becoming an in-demand freelance artists for advertising firms.

In the early-90's, Danny returned to music as a side job, playing with a number of oldies groups. In 1996, he returned to the Box Tops along with the rest of the original lineup, recording and touring through 2010.