I-Tal And Clean House Founder David Smeltz Passes Away At 66

The founder of reggae band I-Tal David "Papa Dave"  Smeltz has passed away at age 66.
The founder of reggae band I-Tal David "Papa Dave" Smeltz has passed away at age 66. [Deborah Ann Guy]

Updated: Monday, June 28, 2021

The Northeast Ohio music scene has lost a local legend. Guitarist and founder of the Cleveland reggae band I-Tal David “Papa Dave” Smeltz passed away Thursday, June 24, at the age of 66.

David "Papa Dave" Smeltz in 2017 [Dave DeOreo / Ideastream]

David "Papa Dave" Smeltz in 2017 [Dave DeOreo / Ideastream]

In a Facebook post, his daughters, Kelsey Belton and Shelbey Smeltz, wrote that their father had passed away “surrounded by family” after a long battle with COVID-19.

David "Poppa Dave" Smeltz leads I-Tal at Peabody's Cafe in 1980.

David "Papa Dave" Smeltz leads I-Tal at Peabody's Cafe in 1980. [Deborah Ann Guy]

During the 1980s, I-Tal hosted regular Reggae Wednesday nights at Peabody’s Café in Cleveland Heights. Former bandmate Carlos Jones said in an email that Smeltz was an example of what a bandleader should be and that Jones learned a lot from him.

“He was a pioneer of what became Cleveland's Reggae scene, and I think it's safe to say that every Reggae artist and act that came after walked on the path that he laid with I-tal,” Jones said.

David "Poppa Dave" Smeltz leads I-Tal at The Coventry Street Fair in 1980. [Deborah Ann Guy]

David "Papa Dave" Smeltz leads I-Tal at The Coventry Street Fair in 1980. [Deborah Ann Guy]

As beloved as Smeltz was in Cleveland's music community, he was just as respected for getting and staying sober for two decades after many years of a hard-partying, rock-and-roll lifestyle.

Clean: From Reggae to Recovery A Memoir by David Smeltz

In 2017, he spoke with Ideastream Public Media about his memoir, "Clean: From Reggae to Recovery."

"I have to say my daughters were the impetus really for me starting to try to get sober. I found out later that you can't get sober for anyone but yourself," he said.

In 2010, Smeltz went on to found the recovery non-profit Clean House in Cleveland's Buckeye neighborhood.

A musical tribute to David Smeltz is planned for Sunday, July 25, at The Beachland Ballroom.

Support Provided By

More Wksu Schedule
More Wclv Schedule
Schedule
Donate
WKSU
WCLV
NPR Hourly Newscast
The Latest News and Headlines from NPR
This text will be replaced with a player.
This text will be replaced with a player.
This text will be replaced with a player.