Rambler page editor and acting editor-in-chief David Hagen recently interviewed Dr. Tom Smith of Wesleyan marketing and mass communication departments on his 25th year at the university and 46th year as a college professor. Dr. Smith also has some musical and performance talents that many may not realize.
DH: Tell me more about your two daughters?
Smith: Well, they both finished with the highest and second-highest averages here (Wesleyan) in business with (GPA) scores of 3.95 and 3.92. They both took 12-14 years of dance, they both sing very well, they both play two or three instruments, both of their parents have Ph.D.’s, and are both education oriented. They both work in marketing (today), and it’s fun to talk about stuff and send them stuff (related to marketing), and I can relate to them and vice versa. I was 39 when the first one was born and 43 with the second, so they have been a big part of my life. The older daughter enrolled with Wesleyan in the year 2000 with the younger one joining three or four years later.
DH: Tell me about your band and how it all started?
Smith: I guess in high school I had always been a groupie type, and I worked in a record store and wrote music a lot. I never thought about playing, but most people in bands normally start playing at 13-14-15 years old. I was about 18 when I met a guy who wanted to form a group, and he taught me the basics of bass. I started playing. I started playing more and more and joined another group when I graduated. We played a little but not a lot before I joined another group, and we started playing a lot. At Ole Miss (where he graduated), there’s nothing to do there, it has some great restaurants and bars, so as a result it has a thriving social scene. Lots of bands started forming, and The Beatles helped a lot. We played every week for two hours at the fraternity parties, and we played every weekend at junior colleges, fraternity and sorority parties, high schools, Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama. This was 80 percent of (my) income for eight years, but it was fun, and I enjoyed it a lot. We recorded records in Memphis.
DH: What style of music was it you played?
Smith: Actually rock, (then paused), but that is a broad term – more R and B. We were playing mostly for people for dance. We believed everybody that played should sing, and everybody that sang should play, that was the type of philosophy
DH: Who were your music influences at the time? Did it include people like Buddy Holly and Elvis?
Smith: Yes, it did. (In the band) I was manager, sang and played. I probably wasn’t the most talented singer in the group, and I probably wasn’t the most talented musician, but I probably had more interest and enthusiasm for it. “The Roadrunners” and “The Something and Somethings” were the names of the bands, and if you type Google, you can still find the music somewhere.
DH: Do you have plans to retire anytime soon?
Smith: If I planned to retire right now, which I’m not, I would spend more time more playing music, practicing magic, reading magic stuff and get back into some areas of ventriloquism which I used to do more of. When I was 10 (years old), I saw an ad in a magazine for a school of ventriloquism. It turns out it was just one guy running it. I couldn’t afford to go, so I got a book and dummy instead for $50 as a Christmas present.