Bill Smith had a rich smooth baritone voice that gave his Blues songs an urbane, sophisticated quality which was exactly opposite to what might be expected from his stage-name, especially as the man was a stylish dresser and had an eye for the ladies.
Born in rural Mississippi in the mid-30s, Bill Smith sang in the clubs of St. Louis and Detroit before landing up in Chicago in the late 50s. Singing with Homesick James in 1958, Bill was given his ‘Barkin’ nick-name by his boss, but those honeyed tones don’t sound much like a bark. Bill played the clubs around Chicago for several decades before joining Dave Specter and The Bluebirds in 1991 and he appeared on their debut album that same year. Three years later Bill made his solo debut for Delmark on his album ‘Gotcha’. Sadly, Bill’s health began to deteriorate soon afterwards, restricting his live playing, and he passed away from cancer in 2000.