We’re up over 2,500 posts in the life of this website since its birth in 2004. Most of those posts go unread, day after day, and that’s fine. It’s the nature of a website like this one. But all 2,500 of ’em live somewhere in the Google-verse, so at some point, any one might end up finding a reader again one day.
Back in 2009, in a post about a WCFL radio survey from the summer of 1973, I wrote the following:
I have been able to learn practically nothing about Adrian Smith, except that she’s not the guitarist with Iron Maiden. The phrase “tiny lady, big voice” pops up in a significant number of web citations about her self-titled album, but that’s it. “Wild About My Lovin’” rode the charts at WCFL for at least 12 weeks in the summer of 1973, and it got some play on other Chicago stations as well. If you know anything more, help a brother out.
Apart from one comment that linked to an eBay listing for Smith’s self-titled album, I never learned anything else about Adrian Smith.
One morning recently, I opened my e-mail to find some scans of newspaper clippings about Adrian Smith, sent to me by Drew, who was working on a research project and googled his way to my mention of her. An August 1973 clipping from what is probably a suburban Chicago paper reveals that Smith was from Harwood Heights, Illinois; local interest helps explain why WCFL gave her airplay. The clipping also reveals that after she cut her self-titled album, MCA Records wanted her to tour with the studio musicians who had backed her. But she wanted her own touring band, so she recruited a number of Chicago-area musicians for it. After losing out on a gig with Dr. John for some reason (the clip doesn’t elaborate, as if the story had already been well-reported and any reader would know what had happened), Smith and her band opened some shows for Sha Na Na, during which they were very well-received.
Two September 1974 clips from Indiana newspapers discuss an upcoming show at Ball State University starring Richie Havens, and mentions Smith as his opener. One article describes her as “a forceful, dynamic act that employs stage antics and ‘raw emotional energy.’ She combines pop, country, gospel, and rhythm and blues into a volatile mixture of powerful proportions.” That sounds like a direct lift from a record-label or management-company press release, but it fits the “little lady, big voice” characterization. It also fits with a quote from her bass player, Mark Beringer, in the 1973 article: “You’d have to see her to believe how much voice is in that body.”
Beringer also told the reporter in 1973 that the band and would be going to Los Angeles to cut a second album. The 1974 article mentions Smith’s first album (the one with “Wild About Your Lovin'” on it), but not a second one. Drew has a theory that the 1973 interview may have had more to do with promoting Mark Beringer than Adrian Smith—that he hoped the album to be made in Los Angeles would end up being his. Drew also suggests that Beringer’s mother, who worked for one of the major Chicago advertising agencies, might have used whatever clout she could muster to get WCFL to play Smith’s record. While it’s true that radio stations frequently played records that were not and would never be actual hits, and they jiggered airplay numbers reported to trade magazines, it was usually done at the behest of record labels and not advertisers. In any event, it does not appear that the second album was ever made, with Smith, Beringer, or anybody else.
ARSA listings show “Wild About My Lovin'” got to #13 at WCFL. WBBM-FM in Chicago listed it for a while, along with a couple of other small-market stations. It bubbled under at #114 in Billboard. But the trail of Adrian Smith goes cold after that, because she’s hard to search. The world is full of prominent Adrian Smiths, not just the heavy-metal guitarist but a Congressman, a body builder, an architect, and others. The only new-to-me bit of info I found about the singing Adrian Smith was a mention in Cash Box that she was 18 when her album came out. So if she’s still out there somewhere, she’d be
75 65. (Math is hard. Ed.) But if she were still out there somewhere, some Internet music aficionado would surely have found her by now.
Thanks to Drew for reading my old piece and helping a brother out. He’s recently posted the 45 of “Wild About My Lovin'” at YouTube, and it’s great. Listen here.