Andrew John Smik died Jan. 31 in Wheeling, W.Va., at age 96. This is of interest to hundreds of local people because this was the man known to us by his stage name of Doc Williams.
Doc was the headliner on the WWVA Jamboree for decades. He was never a national star or a major recording artist, but he and his band, the Border Riders, toured the Northeast and eastern Canada for many years.
Coming from a thoroughly nonmusical family, I discovered country music at the time my age group was becoming the first rock generation. That raucous new music had no allure for me. Soon after I got my driver's license, Doc and his band played at Frewsburg High School. That was the first live country music I ever heard. It was like a new world opening up.
Many people in The Post-Journal's circulation area are far better qualified than I am to recall Doc's career and local appearances. Fred Johnson, from the fabulously talented musical Johnson family of Busti, now living in Virginia, toured with Doc's band for many years.
Doc's last local appearance, which I missed much to my regret, was at the former Mountain Depot in Ellington.
Anyone who has posters, pictures, clippings, or tapes of Doc's local performances should get them digitized and consider donating them to the local historical societies where the performances took place, or at least take them in to the societies and have them copied on the spot. Write your memories down.
Whenever I get acquainted with a foreign visitor, especially an exchange student, I try to get him or her to attend a square or contra dance or a bluegrass show. I want them to know there is more to America than rock, which they can get anywhere. This is the heritage of the people who built America and we should do all we can to treasure and preserve it.
Norman P. Carlson lives in Busti.