GALESBURG - Mr. John L. "Big John" Smith, 77, of 1390 Rona Drive, Galesburg, Ill., died at 10:40 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013, at his home.
He was born on Jan. 27, 1936, in Norton, Va., the son of Ed and Charma E. Mullins Ledbetter. He married Lois Huisman on May 19, 1963, in Peoria, Ill. They were celebrating 50 fabulous years together.
Also surviving are three sons, Rick and Mindy Smith of Ladd, Ill., Jon Smith of Peoria and Dana Smith of Pasco, Wash.; a daughter, Theresa Langrel of Kingsport, Tenn.; and six grandchildren, Jonna, Mark, Bryce, Braxton, Michael and Daryl.
John was a prominent musician, opening for various musicians, including Tennessee Ernie Ford, who gave him his first job in music, Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton and others. He was most well-known for the "Big John and the Mark IV Band" and "Big John and the Freedom Brothers Band." He also owned several nightclubs, including "The Flame" in Pekin, Ill., and his namesake, "Big John's Silver Dollar Night Club" in Galesburg. He retired in 2010.
He attended TMI Military School in his youth and he was a 1951 graduate of Peoria Manual High School. He was a member of the Elks Club and a past president of the Knox County Pool League. He loved golf and motorcycles.
Funeral services will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, at Hinchliff-Pearson-West Galesburg Chapel. Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the chapel. Cremation will follow the services.
Memorials may be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Online condolences may be left at www.h-p-w.com.