In Memoriam: Larry Smith, founder of Tour Guide/Tour Link Conference, 75


March 14, 2022

Lawrence Robert Smith, known by all as “Larry,” died at approximately 4 a.m. on March 13, 2022 at his home in Gallatin, TN. He was 75.

Smith was born in Kokomo, IN on July 19, 1946. He graduated from Kokomo High School in 1964. His higher learning began at Purdue and quickly he shifted to Indiana University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in education with an emphasis on secondary education/history. Smith did his grad work at Ball State University in Muncie, IN, and worked toward a double major in anthropology and telecommunications.

In between college studies and during his early 20’s, Smith relocated to Italy and lived in his mother’s hometown of Florence. For several months he traveled all over Europe and as far east as Afghanistan, behind the wheel of an old British Army truck. But music had become a passion early on, and on his journey, he found himself playing stand-up bass in the Coleman Adams Trio in Munich, Germany. It was one of his first gigs, according to his friend B. Douglas Cameron, who shared some of Smith’s early life events with PLSN.

Smith soon began playing bass guitar in several Kokomo area bands, including his favorite group, Stormcrow, and Cameron’s band Sneed Hern. Smith formed Anvil Productions in 1972 to manage and promote local artists and bands.

His passion for the business of music took him to another level when he found himself as international sales manager for the Music & Booking Directory, the first large annual directory for the concert touring industry, from May 1980 to June 1984. This quickly led to his sales rep opportunity at Performance magazine, the trade publication for the concert touring industry  headquartered in Ft Worth, TX. From 1984 to 1998, Smith supervised sales and marketing for the international division, the talent division, hotels and transportation and the annual Performance Summit Conference. Even while Smith was reaching out to worldwide artists, managers and booking agents, he would occasionally promote various shows back in Kokomo, including reunion gigs with the local bands.

In 1998, Smith recognized the booming country market in Nashville, and he moved to the music city, setting up an office in Soundcheck’s studios to be close to the bands rehearsing for the road. This was his market. Shortly thereafter, Performance closed its doors, so Smith created his own monthly publication called Tour Guide, later renamed Mobile Pro Monthly. He also published an industry directory, The Road Book. Before long, he also launched the Tour Link annual conference.

Harkening back to his interest in education, Smith reached out to the local universities in Nashville, offering internships for students to learn more about careers in the industry. Smith stayed at the helm of his Nashville-based publications for 20 years, until his failing health finally led him to pass the publication and the conference into other hands just prior to the pandemic.

Larry is survived by his sister, two sons, and six grandchildren.

UPDATED information:
Services will be held Saturday, March 19 at Shirley & Stout Funeral Home at 414 W. Jefferson St., Kokomo, IN. Visitation is from 11:30 a.m. to the start of service at 1:30 p.m. with burial immediately following the service at Crown Point Cemetery, 1103 E. Sycamore St., Kokomo. Friends and family will gather at the Fellowship Hall across the street from Hawg Heaven (425 W. Defenbaugh St., Kokomo) from 4-7 p.m. for live music. Bring your instrument and join open jams. Food and drink can be purchased at Hawg Heaven.

In lieu of flowers, please donate to the ASPCA and make Larry smile.

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