Sweet Louie Smith, a Las Vegas icon, has died.
Sweet Louie Smith, who was half of the R&B duo the Checkmates, died on Saturday aboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean on which he and his partner, Sonny Charles, were performing. Mr. Smith was 68 and lived in Las Vegas, where the two were a long-running music act...
Marvin Smith, known as Sweet Louie, and Mr. Charles were friends since childhood in Fort Wayne, Ind. They served in the Army together in the 1950s, touring in the entertainment division of the Army Special Services, after which they set their sights on Las Vegas.
The act took off in 1964 when the Checkmates started performing at the Pussycat à Go-Go, on the site of what is now the Wynn Las Vegas Resort. The group went on to perform at the Sands and Caesars Palace.
The duo’s best-known recordings include “Love Is All I Have to Give” and a remake of “Proud Mary.” Their most successful single, a Top 10 hit, was “Black Pearl,” a 1969 recording produced by Phil Spector.
Some of their career highlights included performing with Frank Sinatra at the Oakland Coliseum, a concert at Madison Square Garden with Herb Alpert, and singing the national anthem for the “Thrilla in Manila,” the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier heavyweight championship boxing match in the Philippines in 1975.
The Checkmates were inducted into the Las Vegas Hall of Fame in 2000.
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