Something of a mystery man in rock, despite a fine pedigree of consistently solid releases in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.

Lynn himself was from Texas and possessed a vibrant full voice with enough power to shake the rafters on the uptempo ravers he specialized in, yet enough nuance to deliver the underlying emotional content of mournful ballads. Despite good notices for his skills – the Los Angeles Sentinel one of the leading black newspapers of the day, called him “The Baron Of B-Flat” – and enough of a reputation to record with some good musicians over the years he never was able to establish himself beyond the confines of Southern California and around his home territory in the Lone Star State.

Part of this lack of wider recognition was perhaps due to a confusing series of releases in which he didn’t receive headlining credit on the label for his best side, but then was credited as the lead artist on another great performance which actually was another singer entirely recording a song on Lynn’s session. Further hindering his chances was that while he recorded for some notable labels – Specialty and Peacock – neither of them had yet to hit their commercial stride when he was under contract and his bad fortune was compounded by the fact that some strong material from those sessions never saw release until decades later.

Lynn’s life story and musical legacy therefore remains murky but his talent was never in question and his style was entirely appropriate for the wild early years of rock ‘n’ roll.
SMILIN’ SMOKEY LYNN DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):

(Specialty 323; March, 1949)
Letting loose of his emotions with no regard for life or limb, this hits on all cylinders and the wild free-for-all spirit they maintain throughout is the perfect embodiment of a party in full swing. (8)

(Specialty 327; April, 1949)
An exercise in frustration as Specialty Records releases this under Lynn’s name even though he’s not on it, as Larry Costello sings this out of control pastiche of rock at its most frantic, almost as if he were sending up the excesses of the genre. (4)

(Specialty 327; April, 1949)
At least Lynn gets to sing on this side of his own record, although that might not be for the best as the four year old Billy Eckstine hit with its slow tempo and mournful lyrics were ill-suited to both Smokey Lynn’s style and rock itself. (3)