LOS ANGELES — O.C. Smith, best known for singing a Grammy Award-winning rendition of “Little Green Apples, died Friday. He was 65.
A minister at the City of Angels Church of Religious Science in Los Angeles since 1985, Smith was considered in good health. He presided over an hourlong Thanksgiving Day service, where he told jokes and appeared in good spirits, a church member said.
Smith was preparing to go for his morning walk when he suffered a heart attack, said a family member, who did not give her name.
“He was a very lovable, very nice person,” said Pearl Wirrie, a parishioner who works two days a week at the church. “He was in good spirits (Thursday). He was talking about his wife cooking — she hadn’t cooked in a long time.”
Smith, who was born June 21, 1936, in Louisiana, began his musical career as a jazz vocalist and later worked in country and rhythm and blues.
Smith replaced Joe Williams as the lead singer for the Count Basie band in the early 1960s and had a hit with the country song “Son of Hickory Holler’s Tramp.”
Smith’s biggest hit was “Little Green Apples,” which he recorded with Roger Miller and Patti Page. The song won Grammys in 1968 for song of the year and best country song and was No. 2 on the pop and R&B charts in 1968.
Smith’s other big R&B single was “Daddy’s Little Man” in 1969, which reached No. 9.
He continued to perform over the years and released an album just a year ago entitled “Beach Music Classics and Love Songs.”
Information on survivors and funeral arrangements was not immediately available.