Aaron Smith (musician)

Aaron "The A-Train" Smith (born September 3, 1950) is a Nashville-based drummer and percussionist who has played as a member of multiple bands, and as a studio musician, starting in 1970. Smith played drums on several hit Motown recordings in the 1970s, including The Temptations' "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone". In the 1980s, he was a member of the new wave band Romeo Void and the Christian alternative rock band the 77s.

Aaron Smith
Also known asThe A-Train
Born (1950-09-03) September 3, 1950 (age 71)
OriginDurham, North Carolina, U.S.
GenresSoul, new wave, Christian alternative rock
Occupation(s)Drummer, percussionist
Years active1970–present


With a singular focus, Aaron Smith began his career playing drums in marching band during the sixth grade practicing on the cafeteria tables since there were so many kids wanting to play that instrument. Smith has stated that his influences include James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Stax, RCA, Motown, Ringo Starr and the Beatles' appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. On his first recording session for the song "Push, Push", Smith was paid with "all the hamburgers he could eat".[1]

At the age of 20, Smith played drums on The Temptations' recording of "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.[2] The song also won two Grammy Awards at the 15th Annual Awards ceremony - one for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group Or Chorus and the other for Best R&B Instrumental Performance.[3][4] Although not formally a member of the Funk Brothers, he performed with them on several Motown albums as a part of the rhythm section. These records include Sky's the Limit (Temptations 71), Solid Rock (Temptations 71), All Directions (Temptations 72), Face to Face with the Truth (The Undisputed Truth 72), Masterpiece (73), The Temptations in Japan (Temptations 73), Keep on Trucking (Eddie Kendricks 73), Me and Rock and Roll Are Here to Stay (David Ruffin 74). He has also worked on Renaissance (Ray Charles 76), Prime Time (Grey And Hanks 80), A Girl In Trouble (Romeo Void 84).[5] Smith was also a member of the progressive rock group Vector from 1983 through 1985.[6]

In 1984, he joined the new wave group Romeo Void. Although his stint in the band was relatively brief (with the band breaking up the following year), he did perform on their most commercially successful single, "A Girl in Trouble (Is a Temporary Thing)" (along with the rest of the tracks on the accompanying Instincts album) and was even interviewed and invited back to perform with the group for their Bands Reunited episode. Also in 1984, Smith contributed to the 77s' album All Fall Down.[7] He later joined the group officially in 1987, taking part in their albums The 77s (1987), Sticks and Stones (1990), Eighty Eight (1991), The Seventy Sevens (also known as Pray Naked - 1992), and Drowning with Land in Sight (1994) leaving the group in 1995.[8][6]

Smith has also appeared on the following recordings: Simple House (Margaret Becker, 1991), Love Life (Charlie Peacock, 1991), Listen (Cindy Morgan, 1996), The Loving Kind (Cindy Morgan, 1998), Brother's Keeper (Rich Mullins, 1995), Hope Is Born Again (Jim Brickman/Point of Grace, 1997), The Jesus Record (Rich Mullins, 1998), Prayers of a Ragamuffin (A Ragamuffin Band, 2000), A Long Way Back (Kim Richey, 2020) and many more.

In his career, Smith has done many live tours as well with artists he has recorded with: Chuck Jackson, The Undisputed Truth, The Temptations, Mirosla Vitous, Club Nouveau, Miroslav Vitous, The 77's, Michael Card, Englebert Humperdinck, Michael W. Smith, Charlie Peacock, Rich Mullins and Kevin Max.

An autographed pair of Smith's drumsticks, part of the Peter Lavinger collection which was on display in the Main Exhibition Level through Feb. 2002 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, can be found next to a pair of sticks used by Ringo Starr, one of his early influences.[1][9][10][11][12]

Smith is married and has two daughters.[1]

Selected discographyEdit


  1. ^ a b c Bertone, Jackie. "01/09/17 Aaron "A Train" Smith - Drummer with the Temptations". Jackie's Groove. Jackie Bertone. Retrieved May 25, 2020.
  2. ^ "Chart History - The Temptations". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media LLC. Retrieved May 25, 2020.
  3. ^ "The Temptations". Recording Academy Grammy Awards. Recording Academy. Retrieved May 25, 2020.
  4. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "The Temptations - Biography". AllMusic. AllMusic/Netaktion LLC. Retrieved May 25, 2020.
  5. ^ Buenaventura, Florentino. "10/10/15 Iconic Drummer - Aaron "The A Train" Smith". WSRadio. WS Radio. Retrieved May 25, 2020.
  6. ^ a b Powell, Mark (2002). Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music (Second ed.). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers. pp. 811–817. ISBN 1-56563-679-1.
  7. ^ "All Fall Down - The 77s". 77s.com. 77s.com. Retrieved May 25, 2020.
  8. ^ Alfonso, Barry (2002). The Billboard Guide to Contemporary Christian Music (First ed.). New York, NY: Billboard Books/Watson-Guptill Publications. pp. 239–240. ISBN 0-8230-7718-7.
  9. ^ Lavinger, Peter. "The Collection of Peter Lavinger". Drumsticks Abound. Peter Lavinger. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  10. ^ Eaton, Alexandra; Weingarten, Christopher. "See the World's Largest Autographed Drumstick Collection". Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone, LLC/Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  11. ^ "Guinness World Record for the World's Largest Collection of Autographed Drumsticks". Making Music. Making Music Magazine. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  12. ^ Kot, Greg. "Will Fans Rock and Roll at New Hall?". Chicago Tribune. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 26, 2020.

External linksEdit