NC’s Own Lil’ Wayne


A while back we uploaded a postcard of Little Wayne Hass.  The card was printed from one of Hugh Morton’s photos, and the caption mentions that Hass was “Featured with Arthur Smith & Crackerjacks WBTV-WBT-MGM Records.”  (And yes, this is the Arthur Smith that wrote the dueling banjos theme that was ripped off in the 1972 movie Deliverance.  Smith sued and won.)

WBTV is the call number for the Charlotte television station, which first aired in 1949.  It appears that Arthur Smith and the Crackerjacks performed in Charlotte (perhaps regularly?) on the station, but I can’t seem to find out much more about the band or their NC roots.  Do you know anything?

The Hugh Morton Collection of Photographs and Films has several other images of Arthur Smith and the Crackerjacks, which you can view here.

In the photo below, Wayne Hass is in the back row, second from the left.


13 thoughts on “NC’s Own Lil’ Wayne”

  1. About Arthur Smith from the North Carolina Awards Web Site:

    Arthur Smith (1921 -)
    Fine Arts

    Please note: The biography and photograph are from the commemorative program for the 2001 North Carolina Awards ceremony.

    Composing, recording, producing, appearing on stage, radio and television, Arthur Smith pioneered new ways to bring music and people together. One of the South’s first true celebrities of the electronic age, Smith was country long before it was cool. For a career spanning over sixty years as an entertainer and entrepreneur, Arthur Smith receives the 2001 North Carolina Award for Fine Arts.

    A Tar Heel by choice, Arthur Smith was born in Kershaw, South Carolina. “I knew what I wanted to do by the time I was fourteen years old,” he has said. “I wanted to marry a wonderful woman, have children, write music, and entertain people.” He passed up an appointment to the United States Naval Academy to pursue a career in music. In 1941 he began hosting live radio shows on WSPA in Spartanburg, South Carolina, moving to Charlotte and WBT in 1943. His first hit record “Guitar Boogie,” written and recorded in 1945, remains the all-time best-selling guitar instrumental.

    With his band, the Carolina Crackerjacks, Smith created one of the first variety shows in television and the first nationally syndicated country music program. For thirty- two years, entertainers of all kinds, sports stars, and politicians journeyed to Charlotte to appear on The Arthur Smith Show on WBTV, making Smith’s wholesome brand of entertainment welcome in households throughout the South. For a decade, he also hosted an early morning television show, Carolina Calling.

    In 1957 Smith opened a recording studio in North Carolina and there produced records by artists such as Johnny Cash, James Brown, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, Pat Boone, and the Statler Brothers. He also produced a radio series; his own syndicated radio show, Top of the Morning, ran for 30 years.

    Arthur Smith is the composer of more than 500 gospel and country songs, which have been recorded by artists such as George Beverly Shea, Barbara Mandrell, the Gatlin Brothers, and Randy Travis. Perhaps his best known song”Feuding Banjos”-was written and recorded in 1955. Under the title “Dueling Banjos,” it became the theme song for the movie Deliverance and was named Broadcast Music Inc.’s Song of the Year in 1973. Smith composed the music for twelve major motion pictures and recorded over 100 albums for numerous record labels.

    Almost as great as his love of music is his passion for fishing. For twenty years he sponsored a fishing tournament. To help preserve the fish and their habitats, he established a marine conservation endowment to benefit the tournament. For twelve years Smith hosted a television series about fishing.

    Smith has served as a volunteer or on the board of many institutions such as the North Carolina School of the Arts, the North Carolina Marine Science Council, Gardner Webb University, the Charlotte Symphony, Easter Seals, the United Way, and the March of Dimes. His awards and honors include the North Carolina Folk Heritage Award, Broadcast Music, Inc. Special Citation of Achievement, American Advertising Federation Silver Medal Award, and an honorary doctorate from the former Steed College of Johnson City, Tennessee.

    Arthur Smith lives with his wife Dorothy in Charlotte. They have three children, seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

  2. Arthur Smith and his Crackerjacks had a morning show on WBTV in Charlotte, NC back in the late 50’s, early 60’s called “Carolina Calling”. By the early 70’s Arthur Smith hosted another show called “The Arthur Smith Show”. This broadcast aired in the evening on Thursday night (I think). “The Arthur Smith Show” had big name guess such as, Johnny and June Cash, Andy Griffith, Chet Atkins and once George Hamilton (actor) with George Hamilton IV (singer) on the same show. Arthur Smith has aired a new version of his old show “Carolina Calling”. It airs on WTVI (PBS) in
    Charlotte, NC on Saturday night at 6:30 pm.
    The first version of “Carolina Calling” featured Arthur Smith’s brothers, Ralph and Sonny. Also on the show were
    Lil’ Wayne Hass, Tommy Faile and Ray and Lois Atkins.
    The Smith brothers are the sons of Clayton Seymour Smith, a mill worker and music teacher from Clinton, SC.
    For more detailed information go to

  3. A correction to the way this entry is written:

    WBTV is the “Callsign” or Call Letters of the Charlotte TV station……

    There is no such thing as a call number, and also how could letters be numbers??

  4. Wayne lives in Pageland South Carolina. He celebrated birthday 72 in January 2014 and enjoys motorcycle rides and most of all his Miata. We have been friends for over 40 years and talk with each other almost daily mainly to check on each other and make sure the other is OK.

  5. Karen, Little Wayne Hass died Monday May 26,2014 after a battle with cancer. He was buried in Pageland, SC.

  6. I would like to know what happened to Ken Howell who sang on Arthur Smith in the early to mid 60’s. He taught me how to play guitar. He had quit the show and was studying to become a minister when I took lessons from him.

  7. Jerry lives in albemarle, nc
    Wayne haas and myself spent 45 years together in music and were the best of best freinds. I miss him very much.
    We both worked with Tommy faile on road shoes and televison.
    Wish i could go back to those times, but i have years of memories.

    I would welcome emails from fans we had over the years that might have questions.

    Thank you,
    Jerry Whitley email…

  8. Update to my earlier inquiry about Ken Howell who played on Arthur Smith in the early 60’s. I discovered that he passed away in November 2014. He had achieved his ambition to be a minister.
    Roger Caudill
    Mooresville, NC

  9. We (Brown Brothers) won that talent search and appeared on the television show a time or two…that goes back to the late fifties…I still play with a jazz trio..thanks and keep an update….Ed

  10. I sure miss these singers It was so great to hear them before going to work. I remember the councilors of the airways Tommy and Ralph were great! The letters from the Baits that never had an answer with anything to do with the letter they read!
    Little Wayne Hass was one of the people i love the hear and see I met hin once and he was a great guy!
    Is any of these people on facebook?

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