Alfred Jesse Smith (born July 26, 1941), better known as Brenton Wood, is an American singer and songwriter known for his 60's hit singles, "The Oogum Boogum Song" and "Gimme Little Sign". Wood was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, United States. The family moved to San Pedro in Los Angeles, California when Wood was a child. He attended San Pedro High School for part of his first year before moving to Compton, where Brenton became a member of the Compton High School track team and received several awards for his athletic achievements.
Following his high school graduation, Wood enrolled in East Los Angeles College. Soon after, he took the stage name Brenton Wood, possibly inspired by the wealthy Los Angeles enclave of Brentwood (some sources state that the name is in honor of his "home county"), with a second possible connection of Bretton Woods. During this period, his musical interests began to manifest themselves. He was inspired by Jesse Belvin and Sam Cooke, and he began cultivating his songwriting skills, also becoming a competent pianist.
Links to Peel
Peel played a few of Brenton Wood's songs on his Top Gear show in the late '60's, including a session from the singer in February 1968. Wood was a one-hit wonder in the UK and was also one of the last soul artists to do a Top Gear session in the show's early period, when each week's session guests usually included one or more soul artists. His hit single "Gimme Little SIgn" featured a distinctive organ sound which resembled the early records of Country Joe & The Fish, one of Peel's favourite bands, although it's not known whether this influenced the decision to book him for a session.
Also during that year, Peel made his first appearance as a Top Of The Pops presenter on 01 February 1968 (TOTP) . The show included a performance by Brenton Wood of "Gimme Little Sign", then in the UK charts. It seems to be the only record by the singer to appear in JP's radio show playlists.
1. Recorded: 1968-01-30. First Broadcast: 11 February 1968
- The Oogum Boogum Song / Gimme Little Sign / Baby You've Got It / My Girl
Other Shows Played
- 29 October 1967: Gimme Little Sign
- 15 February 1990: Gimme Little Sign