Johnny Henry Smith II was an American cool jazz and mainstream jazz guitarist who wrote “Walk, Don’t Run” in 1954. In 1984, Smith was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame. An incredibly diverse musician, Johnny Smith was equally at home playing in the Birdland jazz club or sight-reading scores in the orchestral pit of the New York Philharmonic.  From Schoenberg to Gershwin to originals, Smith was one of the most versatile guitarists of the 1950s.
As a staff studio guitarist and arranger for NBC from 1946 to 1951, and on a freelance basis after that until 1958, Smith played in a variety of settings from solo to full orchestra and had his own trio, The Playboys, with Mort Lindsey and Arlo Hults. : 26 His playing is characterized by closed-position chord voicings and rapidly ascending lines (reminiscent of Django Reinhardt, but more diatonic than chromatically-based).
Smith’s most critically acclaimed recording was of the song “Moonlight in Vermont” and featured tenor saxophonist Stan Getz.  The single was the second most popular jazz record in DownBeat‘s readers’ poll for 1952. : 43 Initially released as a track on the 10-inch LP “Jazz at NBC” (Roost 410), “Moonlight in Vermont” was later made the title track of a 1956 12 inch LP. From 1952 to the 1960s, he recorded for the Roost label, on whose releases his reputation mainly rests. Mosaic Records issued the majority of them in an 8-CD set in 2002. 
His best-known musical composition is the track “Walk Don’t Run,” written for a 1954 recording session as a contrafact to “Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise.” Guitarist Chet Atkins covered the track, recording a neo-classical rendition of the song on the electric guitar for his Hi-Fi in Focus album, which preceded the Ventures’ hit by three years. He played his arrangement fingerstyle, including the bass notes A, G, F, and E, which later became the basis for the Ventures’ arrangement. The musicians who became The Ventures heard the Atkins version, simplified it, sped it up, and recorded it in 1960. The Ventures’ version went to No. 2 on the Billboard Top 100 for a week in September 1960.
In 1957, Smith’s wife died in childbirth, along with his second child. He sent his young daughter to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to be cared for temporarily by his mother, and the following year he left his busy performing career in New York City to join his daughter in Colorado. There, Smith ran a musical instruments store, taught music, and raised his daughter while continuing to record albums for the Royal Roost and Verve labels into the 1960s. He told The Colorado Springs Independent in 2001 (as quoted in his New York Times obituary) “In the end, everything came down to the fact that I loved my daughter too much to let my career put her at risk. But there were other factors, too. I loved New York musically, but I hated living there.” Paul Vitello observed that “Smith continued to record, and sometimes performed in Colorado nightclubs, but declined almost all invitations to tour. One exception was for Bing Crosby, whom he accompanied on a tour of England in 1977 that ended shortly before Mr. Crosby’s death.” Wiki.
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