RIP Danny Smythe, drummer for the Box Tops

We’ve just learned Danny Smythe, a founding member of the Box Tops, died on July 6. The news broke a day later on Vintage Vinyl News.

Wearing a mop top and some Coke-bottle glasses, Smythe was a self-taught beast on the drums. Check out this solo below:

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He’s best-known as the drummer for the Box Tops, and he performs the lead-in on what’s arguably their most famous song, The Letter:

With Alex Chilton’s gruff voice front-and-center, the Box Tops made good use of their first time in a recording studio. They cut “The Letter,” a less-than-two-minute perfect piece of blue-eyed soul that opens with Smythe’s count-in, and took it to No. 1. in the summer of 1967. The song was also nominated for two Grammys — Group Vocal Performance and Contemporary Vocal Group — but lost in both categories to the 5th Dimension’s Jimmy Webb-penned “Up, Up and Away.” (via UCR)

A photo posted by Record Reserve (@recordreserve) on

Smythe would go on to become a driven photographer, posting thousands of stock photo images on his website,

RIP, Danny Smythe.

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One comment to “RIP Danny Smythe, drummer for the Box Tops”
  1. One of my favorite songs while in Jr. High … The Letter was a bitchen song. It reminds me so much of my brother, who has been gone a long time. RIP Danny and Robbie, too.

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