Library of Congress Adds Interviews with Elton John, Barbara Streisand, Paul McCartney, Ella Fitzgerland & More
More than 25 years ago, retired music executive Joe Smith accomplished a Herculean feat-he got more than 200 celebrated singers, musicians and industry icons to talk about their lives, music, experiences and contemporaries. The Library of Congress announced today that Smith has donated this treasure trove of unedited sound recordings to the nation's library.
The list of noted artists and executives is a veritable who's who in the music industry. They include Artie Shaw, Woody Herman, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Barbra Streisand, Little Richard, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Elton John, Paul Simon, David Bowie, Billy Joel, Sting, Tony Bennett, Joan Baez, James Taylor, Dick Clark, Tina Turner, Tom Jones, B. B. King, Quincy Jones, David Geffen, Mickey Hart, Harry Belafonte and many others. All types of popular music are represented-from rock 'n' roll, jazz, rhythm & blues and pop to big-band, heavy metal, folk and country-western.
While president of Capitol Records/EMI, Smith recorded 238 hours of interviews over two years, excerpts of which he compiled and presented in his groundbreaking book, "Off the Record," published by Warner Books in 1988. These candid and unabridged interviews have been digitized by the Library and initially will be accessible in its Capitol Hill reading room. Some of the recordings also will be streamed on the Library's website (www.loc.gov) later this year.
The Joe Smith Collection is an invaluable addition to the Library's comprehensive collection of recorded sound," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. "These frank and poignant oral histories of many of the nation's musical icons give us unique insights into them as artists, entertainers and human beings. The world knows these great musicians through their songs, but Joe Smith has provided us an intimate window into their lives through their own words.
"Smith's career in music started in the 1950s at the dawn of the rock 'n' roll era. Following his graduation from Yale, Smith worked as a sportscaster and later as a disc jockey at WMEX and WBZ in Boston. He transitioned into record promotions when he moved to Los Angeles in 1960 and rose to legendary status in the industry as president of three major labels-Warner Bros., Elektra/Asylum and Capitol/EMI. Smith signed such notable artists as the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Van Morrison, Frank Zappa, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt and the Eagles.