The Chicago DJ and producer, also known as DJ Spank Spank, had suffered a stroke in May
Some sad news from Chicago: Earl 'Spanky' Smith of Phuture, one of the originators of acid house, has died. He had been ill since suffering a stroke in May this year.
The news was broken yesterday evening (UK time) in a post on the Phuture Facebook page, which read: "To our acid house family and music family at large, we are very sorry to say that our friend and partner DJ Spank Spank has passed away. Spank is (was) a legend. We will for certain continue the work he's started on his final album project and his innovations in music. Please for now: pray for his family and DJ Pierre his brother. Allow them time to grieve. We will come back with news. Much love."
Along with Herb Jackson and Nathanial 'DJ Pierre' Jones, Smith formed Phuture in 1985, spurred on by the groundbreaking DJ sets of Frankie Knuckles at The Warehouse and Ron Hardy at The Music Box. The trio would soon become just as influential as those that had inspired them, their experiments with a Roland TB-303 bass synth birthing the 'acid' sound that continues to reverberate around the world. Their Acid Tracks EP (Trax, 1987) included not just that seminal title track but also the anti-cocaine track Your Only Friend, whose "This is cocaine speaking" vocal has been sampled countless times - including by Phuture themselves on their 1992 Strictly Rhythm classic Rise From Your Grave.
In more recent years, Smith had been running the internet radio station Global Traxx Radio, as well as reuniting sporadically with Jackson and Jones for performances under the Phuture banner. 5 Magazine editor Terry Matthews remembers him as "a giant of a man – towering above everyone around him – yet also an exquisitely humble human being".
RIP one of the great house pioneers - our thoughts are with his family and friends.