Hap Smith was a musical artist and educator based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He taught guitar, music theory and improvization. His preferred musical style was jazz, and he had extensive experience in Funk/R&B and Blues.
Hap was born on October 3, 1946 in Trenton, New Jersey and grew up in nearby Bordentown. His passion for guitars led him to Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. During his time at Berklee, he met the love of his life, Patricia A. Gooder. They married on November 26, 1967 prior to him graduating the following year with a bachelor degree in music education. He studied privately with Bill Leavitt, Dennis Sandole, Joe Lano and Jimmy Wilkinson.
Hap toured as a member of the Wayne Cochran's CC Riders before moving to Las Vegas in 1968 to join the Johnny Haig Relief Band. The Haig band was the premier relief band on the Las Vegas Strip, performing on the regularly scheduled nights off for the house bands in Vegas hotels. He performed with Vegas headliners, production shows, and TV shows. He was the personal guitarist for Ann Margret for two years and performed with acts including Barbara Mandrell, the Oak Ridge Boys, Chubby Checker, the Osmonds, Shirley MacLaine, Barbra Streisand and Pavarotti. He performed at the Stardust Hotel for more than a decade in the Lido de Paris and Enter The Night shows. Individual vocalists he worked with include Dusty Springfield, Jack Jones, Mel Torme, Marlena Shaw, and Buddy Greco (Iridium NYC). Jazz artists he worked with include Carl Fontana (Marv Koral & the All-Stars: Live at Pierce Street Annex), Art Van Damm and Don Menza. He played concerts and gigs in the Southwest and Far East with Bill Callanan's B3 Conspiracy.
In addition to his career as a performer, Hap was a guitar teacher for more than 35 years, emphasizing improvisation in all idioms. He also dedicated twelve years to coaching his daughter's soccer team. He had a passion for trains, nature, astronomy, and art. He especially enjoyed spending quality time with his family and looked forward to annual vacations and holidays. His family remembers him as a gentle, intelligent, humorous individual who offered enormous love, guidance and support to all of those around him. His friends and colleagues describe him as an extremely talented musician, educator and mentor who was non-judgmental, warm, patient, and inspiring.
Hap left a positive feeling with everyone who encountered him. He passed away on Sunday, November 8, 2020, but his spirit lives on in the friends and family who loved him.