In 1974 Smith’s professional career began in full, at 19 years old, with his tenure in the Lin Biviano Big Band, which he toured and recorded with for the next two years. At that same time he also performed with bebopper Buddy DeFranco and was a member of free-jazz group The Fringe featuring George Garzone. In 1976, Smith began his association with jazz/fusion by joining violinist Jean Luc Ponty and recording the album “Enigmatic Ocean” (Atlantic 1977), which also featured guitarist Allan Holdsworth. However, it was while touring with rocker Ronnie Montrose a year later that Smith was asked to join the popular rock band Journey which brought his playing to the attention of a young rock audience.
With Journey, Smith toured around the world and recorded many successful albums including the immensely popular “Escape” (Columbia 1981) and “Frontiers” (Columbia 1983), both of which garnered the band many Top 40 hits. Smith’s inventive timekeeping, stadium sized tom-tom fills and deep sense of the groove enabled him to produce some of the most critically acclaimed rock drumming while at the same time propelling the band to much popular success.
In 1985 Smith left Journey to pursue his original passion, jazz, and to continue his developing career as a session player. Over the past 20+ years, Smith has played on many hits with such diverse artists as Mariah Carey, Bryan Adams, Zucchero, Claudio Baglioni, Andrea Bocelli, Ray Price, Corrado Rustici and Savage Garden.
Smith began leading his own fusion band Steve Smith and Vital Information in 1983 while still a member of Journey. Vital Information currently features Tom Coster on keys, Baron Browne on bass and Vinny Valentino on guitar. Vital Information’s release, Where We Come From, was voted Best Contemporary Jazz Recording Of 1998 by the Association For Independent Music.