The legend of East St. Louis.
That’s how Lonnie Smith, 48, was described by many of his friends and family on Facebook after he died Wednesday in a boating accident.
Smith was a well-known DJ in the East St. Louis community, said friend and fellow DJ Doug “Derrty DJ 618” Smith. They first met when Lonnie was a young, hopeful DJ.
“I noticed he was at a lot of (DJ) events, and when I found out he wanted to be a DJ, I took him under my wing,” Doug Smith said. “Ever since then, he’s been like a little brother.”
Lonnie quickly rose in the DJ ranks with his technical skills, which Doug Smith said are better than his own. Always community oriented, Lonnie enjoyed helping out aspiring DJs — just like Doug Smith once did for him.
He would schedule appointments for his mentees to come over to his house, and he would teach them how to DJ, giving them the basics and teaching them anything they needed to do about the job.
“He helped so many people,” Doug Smith said. “He never had a problem with helping anyone out.”
So when Lonnie drowned in a boating accident May 17, the community was shocked. Lonnie was out fishing on Baldwin Lake for his son’s birthday, and when high winds and waves capsized his boat, he stayed in the water to try to flip it back over. The other two occupants of the boat swam to shore safely, but Lonnie’s legs got tangled up in his fishing gear, and he was dragged down with the boat.
“I was numb, lost for words. I couldn’t believe it,” Doug Smith said. “His son watched the whole ordeal unfold. He did everything he could to save his dad, but the water was so choppy. (Lonnie Jr.) could save his uncle but not his dad.”
Doug Smith’s shock at Lonnie’s death and his admiration of the man was reflected in others’ Facebook posts in the days after his death:
“He was my Mentor, Like my Pops... someone who believed in me....words can’t describe how I feel right now.”
“If it wasn’t for Dj Lonnie B Smith there wouldn’t be no Dj Kidd Boogie....he pushed me to become a Dj when i didnt really want to do it and he taught me everything I know today that made me a good dj. I owe him alot....he did for me what my father did for him.”
“R I P to my mentor , uncle he taught me a lot and return the favor by teaching others...YOU CANT SAY HIS NAME WITHOUT SAYING LEGENDARY.”