Born in Camden New Jersey, Fran Smith Jr. is a composer, producer, bass guitarist and vocalist from the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area best known for his 30 year stint with the rock group The Hooters. Fran maintains a career as a recording artist in his own right, as well as a producer for other artists. In that time he managed to guide himself to a place of prominence as a cult classic power-pop/rock composer and producer, as well as a founding and pivotal influence in what is now known as Modern Alternative Country.
His 1996 release of 'For No Apparent Reason' soared to a classic status as Smith became one of the earliest adopters of distributing music via digital platforms. His second album 'Man Meets Machine' was released in 2004 to critical acclaim-however it sounded decidedly departed the predecessor LP. Marking his return to the genre he helped curve into national prominence, Fran Smith Jr. has returned with his first full length album since 2004-the soaring Modern Alternative Country flavored 'Mystic County'. While lauded upon its debut by fans and critics alike, 'Mystic County' is also prominent for returning Smith to his own music career and for being the first album released on historic ODEON label in the new century.
For the past thirty-three years, he has secured the bass playing duties in The Hooters. This band, which is originally from Philadelphia, has become one of the hottest bands in Europe. They have done extensive stadium tours, appeared on numerous television programs, and even performed at the Wall concert, in Berlin, with Pink Floyd. During one of their last trips to Germany, The Hooters filmed a television commercial for the largest railway system in Germany. Their latest CD, Largo, started as the recording sessions for a new Hooters album, but evolved into a collaboration between The Hooters and great guest artists like Taj Mahal, Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Joan Osborne, The Chieftains, Carole King, Cyndi Lauper, David Forman, and Willie Nile. Fran has received numerous platinum and gold records for his accomplishments with The Hooters.
When Fran is not playing sold out concerts in Europe, he spends his time in a number of different ways. He plays in several original bands, including that of Eric Bazilian, the writer of Joan Osborne's One of Us. Fran has also played the role of Paul McCartney in Beatlemania, with the original Broadway cast members. Fran does many voice overs for television and radio, including a version of "When I'm 64" for Vanguard insurance company.
He also plays locally in his own group called Rory Kunkle. In 1996 he released a solo CD on Moskeeto Records and has performed at many clubs in the Jersey and Pennsylvania area. Several well-known artists helped to make the Rory Kunkle CD a success, including The Red Hot Chili Peppers, David Uosikkinen and Keith Mack. The CD was produced by Grammy-nominated engineer Steve Churchyard, who has produced George Michaels, The Pretenders, Pat Benetar and has worked with George Martin.
In 1979 Fran played Paul McCartney in “Beatlemania Now”. Later in life his son Eric James Smith joined “Beatlemania Now” and does the most convincing Ringo on the circuit. His son Graham Alexander played Paul on Broadway in “Rain”.
Fran also played the part of Carlo Cannoli in Tony and Tina’s Wedding, a long running off-Broadway comedy. From his own recording studio he has produced many successful projects for artists such as Joe Piscopo and Flo & Eddie of The Turtles.
MY BACK PAGES
I never tour without having my entire Andy Griffith series out with me. And I must have my King Of Queens collection too.
I travel with as many electric fans as I can sneak.
I buy all my stage clothes at second-hand stores before each tour and I try to spend about twenty bucks max. At the end of the tour I throw the 50 lbs of sweaty clothes in the trash never to smell them again! (Except for the few nice stage jackets).
In 1975 I relocated to Asbury Park and played with Shakes at the world famous Stone Pony, where I got a chance to jam with Bruce Springsteen and various E-Streeters. Later in 1980 I joined Cats On A Smooth Surface and was once again jamming with The Boss almost every Sunday night (by the way, his now wife Patti Scialfa sang back up with Cats On A Smooth Surface).
In 1979 I played Paul McCartney in “Beatlemania Now”. Later in life my son Eric James Smith joined “Beatlemania Now” and does the most convincing Ringo on the circuit. My son Graham Alexander played Paul on Broadway in “Rain”.
So basically I gave birth to the most awesome rhythm section in history.
The first concert I ever witnessed was at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia. It was The Who! They debuted the album Tommy. The opening act was the Philly band The American Dream. The music was awesome and extremely loud.
The Road Runners - I was the Drummer
Broken Relations - still The Drummer
Dancing Bear - Bass from here on
The Shakes 1975
Johnny’s Dance Band 1978-1979
Cats On A Smooth Surface 1980
Smash Palace 2013-2018