Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page

Robert Ward, born into impoverished circumstances in rural Georgia on October 15,1938, picked up his first guitar at age ten. As a youth he was inspired by the records of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, B.B. King, and Muddy Waters. After moving to Ohio in 1960 he formed The Ohio Untouchables, later known as The Ohio Players and in 1962 he was signed by a Detroit label and backed The Falcons with lead singer Wilson Pickett on the hit single "I Found A Love." After leaving the Untouchables in 1965 before they went on to international acclaim as the Ohio Players he cut a few singles including "Fear No Evil" and during the early '70s worked as a session guitarist at Motown, backing groups like the Temptations and the Undisputed Truth. After his wife's death in 1977 he dropped out of site for the next 13 years until a chance encounter led to his being signed by Black Top Records who released the sensational 1990 comeback album "Fear No Evil."

Ward's trademark vibrato-soaked guitar sound (later embraced by Lonnie Mack) was the direct result of acquiring a Magnatone amplifier at a Dayton music store in 1960. His lusty, fluently rhythmic guitar style is intense, exciting and strikingly original. His brash guitar leads and dancing chord style is intertwined with his raspy blues and soul-tinged vocals to create a sound that remains delightfully unpredictable. Two more early 1990's Black Top albums again captured Ward's curiously mystical appeal and propelled him to guitar-hero status. Today Ward lives in rural Dry Branch, Georgia, with his second wife Roberta, who collaborates with him on his music.