Born in Clinton, South Carolina, Arthur Smith was a textile mill worker who became a celebrated and respected country music instrumental composer, guitarist, fiddler, and banjo player who had a major hit with the instrumental "Guitar Boogie". The song earned him the moniker Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith (to differentiate him from Tennessee fiddler and 1930s Grand Ole Opry star Fiddlin' Arthur Smith) and was recorded by numerous others including Tommy Emmanuel. Renamed "Guitar Boogie Shuffle", it became a rock and roll hit by Frank Virtue and the Virtues. Virtue served in the Navy with Smith and counted him as a major influence. Other musicians who have been influenced by Smith include Nashville studio ace Hank "Sugarfoot" Garland, Roy Clark, Glen Campbell and surf music pioneers the Ventures.
In 1955, Smith composed a banjo instrumental he called "Feudin' Banjos" and recorded the song with five-string banjo player Don Reno. Later the composition appeared in the popular 1972 film Deliverance as "Dueling Banjos" played by Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandel. Not given credit, Smith had to proceed with legal action that eventually gave him songwriting credit and back royalties. It was a landmark copyright infringement suit.
As a composer, Smith had nearly 500 copyrights, including over 100 active inspirational and/or gospel music compositions including million sellers "The Fourth Man" and "I Saw A Man". In total, his compositions have been recorded numerous times by artists including Chet Atkins, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, the Statesmen Quartet, the Cathedrals, Al Hirt, Barbara Mandrell, Willie Nelson, the Gatlin Brothers, Oak Ridge Boys, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Boots Randolph, George Beverly Shea, the Stamps, the Statler Brothers, Ricky Van Shelton and many more. A portion of his Crackerjacks group sang and recorded gospel music under the moniker the Crossroads Quartet. Among the members throughout the years were Smith, Tommy Faile, Ray Atkins, Lois Atkins, brother Ralph Smith, and Wayne Haas.
Smith built and managed the first commercial recording studio in the Southeast in Charlotte; in addition to recording Smith, the Crackerjacks and its various members, such as vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Tommy Faile, it produced sides from many other acts, including rhythm and blues star James Brown, whose "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" was cut in Smith's studio. In this facility, Smith also created and produced nationally syndicated radio programs hosted by Johnny Cash, Chet Atkins, Richard Petty, James Brown, and George Beverly Shea. Billy Graham's Hour of Decision radio program was first produced in Smith's studio. Smith also produced and hosted his own radio program, Top of the Morning, which was syndicated for an unbroken span of 29 years.