Oral History Information
Craig Smith began piano lessons at the age seven and by the time he was twelve, was fascinated with the sounds of the home organ. He started demonstrating organs for Karnes Music at thirteen and worked there part-time through high school. During his college years, Craig continued to work part-time selling pianos and organs at Byerly Music in Peoria, IL. He also played professionally in hotels and supper clubs. After college, he toured the country with a show band for a couple years, before settling down into a retail career with his early mentor from Karnes, Pete Sopp, who by the mid-70's, owned Piano Organ Warehouse in Santa Rosa, California. Craig was at the center of the home organ boom, with all the promotions the industry created to market their products. Later retail management positions included the Byerly and Samuel Music chains in Illinois, followed by Jenkins Music in Kansas City. By then he had become an institutional organ specialist, representing Allen church organs. When a wholesale rep job at Baldwin Piano and Organ became available in 1986, Craig jumped on it and spent the past 25 years as a regional sales manager in the piano industry. Most recently, he has returned to the church organ field and enjoys playing professionally around Kansas City. Craig also is an active member of the National Piano Travelers Association, for which he served as president from 2002 through 2004, alongside Wilton Syckes and Rob Slayman. You can imagine, he has also developed life-long friendships along the way. including those of us at NAMM involved with his 2011 Oral History interview.