"I have this bad habit of punishing myself when things are going bad cause I don't think they are going bad enough" - Benjamin Smoke
Benjamin Smoke (born Robert Dickerson) was an American singer-songwriter who fronted the Atlanta, Georgia bands Smoke and the Opal Foxx Quartet. He was noted for being a radical, gay rock 'n' roll performer. He died on January 29, 1999 due to liver failure caused by Hepatitis C at age 39. He performed his final concert in Atlanta, Georgia on New Year's Eve, 1998.
Benjamin was a known character in the underground scene in 1980s Atlanta and participated in a number of Atlanta music experiments such as Easturn Stars, Monroe is Naked Again, Freedom Puff, Blade Emotion, and the Opal Foxx Quartet (which often had up to 12 members). His bands played in such venues as 688, Celebrity Club, Pillowtex, Destroy All Music Festival, among others. For the band, Smoke donned the stage name "Miss Opal Foxx".
During this time his vocals received media attention and Tom Waits comparisons arose. His voice has since been described as "resembling the roar of a wounded lion". After some of the musicians of the group died, the band Smoke was conceived in 1992 with members Bill Taft, Brian Halloran, and Todd Butler. Coleman Lewis and Tim Campion later joined the band, followed by Will Fratesi.
Smoke was renowned for his on-stage banter, never shying away from provoking his viewers, "for a faggot, do I have a rockin' band or what?" Benjamin was an amphetamine addict and he also had AIDS, though he claimed "HIV is not a death sentence". AIDS brought him closer to his mother, though he eventually lost his life due to Hepatitis C.