I booked Smith’s first-ever Chicago show in the early ’90s

“I booked Smith’s first-ever Chicago show in the early ’90s when he was unknown and playing in the band Heatmiser. A few years later I offered him a 20-minute solo spot as an opener and remember it was one of those moments you could hear a pin drop. Even the bartenders stopped clinking ice. Everyone was listening. [Smith sold out Metro four times in three years. On the last date, Billy Corgan visited him backstage and worked to calm his anxieties, which were becoming legendary.] “I think he understood loneliness. I think he understood alienation – physically and emotionally. He made people pay attention. Maybe it was part of his charm, part of his power. If you wanted to get it, you had to really get away from all the trappings of showbiz and get into the man’s words.”

Joe Shanahan