THE SMITH TAPES, COLLECTION #2: AQUARIAN THEATER Set for Release on iTunes, 12/18
Unearthed after more than forty years and unheard since their original airing, the recordings of Village Voice "Scenes" columnist and radio personality HoWard Smith are now available for the first time. Containing over 100 interviews, The Smith Tapes will be released in monthly installments on digital retailers iTunes and Amazon. Collection #1: Fillmore East was released on November 20 with Collection #2: Aquarian Theater due December 18. The latest collection contains interviews with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda, Jim Morrison, Arlo Guthrie, James Rado and Gerome Ragni and Dick Gregory. See full track listing and details below.
During his tenure as the host of a nationally syndicated WPLJ-FM weekend program Smith conducted interviews with well-known musicians and notable cultural figures between 1969 and 1972. These tapes include revealing personal conversations with Mick Jagger, Andy Warhol, Jim Morrison, Buckminster Fuller, Abbie Hoffman, Jane Fonda, Hugh Hefner, Dr. John, Jerry Garcia, Janis Joplin, Pete Townsend, Arlo Guthrie, Bill Graham, Norman Mailer, D.A. Pennebaker and many more. Smith sat down with John Lennon and Yoko Ono no less than five time. The Smith Tapes recently completed their Kickstarter campaign to release a limited edition, hand numbered box set of more than 12 CD's of 18 conversations and a cassette shaped USB drive containing Smith's extensive interview with Hugh Hefner and his hourly dispatches from Woodstock.
With each interview, The Smith Tapes creates an unscripted time capsule of a period of extraordinary cultural transformation. Smith had an unique knack for meeting artists at seminal moments including Mick Jagger just weeks before The Rolling Stones Concert at Altamont, Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda directly following their the debut of Easy Rider at The Cannes Film Festival, Pete Townshend during The Who's rock opera Tommy performance at The Metropolitan Opera, Andy Warhol after his shooting and Janis Joplin just before her deatH. Smith locked away these original interview reels in a crate for more than 40 years in his loft in New York's Village. Upon discovery, the tapes were carefully digitized and edited.
HoWard Smith is an Oscar winning film director, journalist and broadcaster. As a writer for more than thirty years, his articles have appeared in Playboy, The New York Times. He had a weekly column "Scenes" during the formative years of The Village Voice. In 1972, Smith produced and directed the Oscar winning feature-length documentary film "Marjoe" about evangelist Marjoe Gortner.
The Smith Tapes are being released by Ezra Bookstein in conjunction with Cass Smith, Howard's son. Bookstein has been working in documentary films and television programming for the last 15 years. When Bookstein was contacted about this incredible collection of reels, The Smith Tapes were born. Working with the interviews, Bookstein "found them more engaging then if they were filmed. Without the visuals to get in the way, to distance you, one can experience the conversation almost as a participant." Cass Smith is an architect and discovered the interviews while helping his father clean out his apartment and has been looking for the right vehicle to bring them to life.
The Smith Tapes-Collection 2: Aquarian Theatre
John Lennon and Yoko Ono-December 17th 1969
Interviewed at legendary rockabilly musician Ronnie Hawkins' ranch outside Toronto, the couple details their new campaign for peace. They the Beatles' break up, Woodstock and falling in love. Just two days prior, posters had been put up in twelve cities around the world bearing the enduring, simple message, "WAR IS OVER! IF YOU WANT IT Happy Christmas from John & Yoko."
Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda-June 1969
Following the release of Easy Rider, at Cannes Film Festival, Hopper and Fonda give their first American interview. Two weeks later, the film would open in theaters across the country to massive critical acclaim, receiving two Academy Award nominations, and eventually becoming the third highest grossing film of 1969.
Jim Morrison-November 6, 1969
Nearing the release of their fifth album, the Doors were at a difficult junction in their career. Morrison's drug abuse was threatening the band's survival. Promoters were canceling their tour dates following the lead singer's fractious tirade at a concert in Miami intended to kick off a major US tour that had resulted in arrest warrants and charges of indecent exposure. Morrison discusses performing and recording music, money, his sex symbol past, and attempts to avoid the issue of his court date, imminently looming three days after the interview.
Arlo Guthrie-August 1969
Though he was only 22 years of age, Guthrie had already released three albums, and had solidified his position as a staple of the East Coast folk scene. "Alice's Restaurant," the title track of his first album was a huge hit, but at 18 minutes long, it could not be released as a single. Earlier that year, however, Guthrie had starred in a film based off the song, which was soon to be released, and would propel the songwriter to mainstream success.
Jane Fonda-May 1969
After living in Europe for years with her husband Roger Vadim, Fonda had returned to the states to star in the film They Shoot Horses, Don't They? for which production had just wrapped. Smith meets Fonda at her father's Manhattan townhouse at a turning point in her career, as she is moving to sophisticate her image and will later that year be nominated for an Academy Award.
James Rado and Gerome Ragni-September 2nd, 1969
Rado and Ragni, writers of the iconic musical "HAIR," had worked fervently to move their show to Broadway. "HAIR" had been met with controversy for its anti-establishment themes, and infamous nude scene, but the pair had managed to find a theater, the Biltmore, that would stage the show. They discuss their plans for the musical, which has become a sensation, and would go down as the ultimate representation of the times.
Dick Gregory-November 24, 1969
Famous for both his stand-up comedy and his political lecture tours, Gregory had recently run, unsuccessfully, for President of the United States. He had since returned to comedy, recording the album, "Dick Gregory, The Light Side: The Dark Side." He discusses the societal problems facing the country with Smith, days before a performance at Carnegie Hall.