Claydes Charles Smith (September 6, 1948 – June 20, 2006) was an American musician best known as co-founder and lead guitarist of the group Kool & the Gang.
Born in Jersey City, New Jersey, he was introduced to jazz guitar by his father in the early 1960s.
Later in that decade he was in a group of New Jersey jazz musicians, including Ronald Bell (later Khalis Bayyan), Robert "Kool" Bell, George Brown, Dennis Thomas and Robert "Spike" Mickens, who became Kool & the Gang. Other members would include lead singer James "JT" Taylor.
Kool & the Gang grew from jazz roots in the 1960s to become one of the major groups of the 1970s, blending jazz, funk, R&B, and pop. Despite their popularity waning briefly, the group enjoyed a return to stardom during the 1980s.
Illness forced Smith to stop touring with the group in January 2006. He died in Maplewood, New Jersey.
Smith, who was known professionally as Charles Smith, wrote the hits "Joanna" and "Take My Heart," and was a co-writer of others, including "Celebration," "Hollywood Swinging," and "Jungle Boogie."
Smith is survived by his six children — Claydes A. Smith, Justin Smith, Aaron Corbin, August Williams, Uranus Guray, and Tyteen Humes — and nine grandchildren.