Charlie Smalls
Smalls on The Monkees 1968
Born(1943-10-25)25 October 1943
Died27 August 1987(1987-08-27) (aged 43)
Occupation(s)Composer, songwriter,
AwardsDrama Desk Award for Outstanding Music and Lyrics
1974: The Wiz
Best Original Score
1975: The Wiz
Best Cast Show Album
1976: The Wiz

Charlie Smalls (October 25, 1943 – August 27, 1987) was an American composer and songwriter, best known for writing the music and lyrics for playwright William F. Brown's 1975 Broadway musical The Wiz and the 1978 film version of the same name.


A musical prodigy, Smalls attended the Juilliard School at age 11 in 1954, staying until 1961.[1] He wrote the song "From Me to You" for Hugh Masekela's 1966 album Hugh Masekela's Next Album[2] and a song for John Cassavetes's 1968 film Faces called "Never Felt Like This Before."

Smalls appeared in the tag scene of the "Some Like It Lukewarm" episode of The Monkees, which aired on March 4, 1968, chatting at a piano with singer Davy Jones.[3]

After graduating from the High School of Performing Arts, Smalls toured as a member of the New York Jazz Repertory Company before beginning work on The Wiz. An African-American urbanized retelling of L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Wiz was adapted into a feature film in 1978. Smalls also wrote the score for the 1976 film Drum.[4]


Smalls was in Belgium accompanying the tour of professional jazz dance instructor Sue Samuels, to whom he was engaged to be married, when he died at the age of 43 during emergency surgery to repair a burst appendix.[5]

At the time of his death, Smalls was working on a new musical, Miracles, a musical adaptation of The Man Who Could Work Miracles by H.G. Wells. He had recorded some songs with Geoffrey Holder and the Harlem Boys Choir.[6]

In 1989, Smalls's score for The Wiz was donated to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture by Mildred Harper, the mother of producer and creator of The Wiz, Ken Harper, along with Harpers' papers.[7]


Smalls won the 1975 Tony Award for Best Score as well as the 1976 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album for his work on The Wiz.[8][9]


  1. ^ Aufderheide, Jeremy (2007). "Creators: Charlie Smalls Archived 2011-07-17 at the Wayback Machine". The Wiz: A Virtual Coffee Table Book. Retrieved January 20, 2008.
  2. ^ "Original Broadway Cast of "The Boys in the Band" – Mart Crowley's - the Boys in the Band (The Original Broadway Cast Album) (1969, Vinyl)". Discogs. 1969.
  3. ^ Sandoval, Andrew (2005). The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story Of The 60s TV Pop Sensation. Thunder Bay Press. p. 178. ISBN 978-1-59223-372-4.
  4. ^ "Drum". IMDb. Retrieved December 11, 2022.
  5. ^ "Charlie Smalls is Dead; Composer of 'The Wiz'". The New York Times. 4 September 1987.
  6. ^ "The Wiz | Creators: Charlie Smalls". Archived from the original on 2011-07-17. Retrieved 2008-01-20.
  7. ^ "Charlie Smalls scores for The Wiz 1974". The New York Public Library Archives and Manuscripts. Retrieved 17 December 2022.
  8. ^ Search for "Charlie Smalls" at "Past Winners Search Archived 2016-08-31 at the Wayback Machine". The American Theater Wing's Tony Awards. Retrieved January 20, 2008.
  9. ^ "Grammy Award Nominees 1976 - Grammy Award Winners 1976". Retrieved 2023-10-18.