This is amazingly cool - retired music biz exec Joe Smith has donated a bona fide cultural treasure to the Library of Congress in the form of hundreds of hours of taped artist interviews. During a lengthy career that included tenures as President of the Warner Brothers, Elektra Records, and Capitol/EMI Records labels, Smith signed such legendary artists as Jimi Hendrix, Van Morrison, Frank Zappa, the Grateful Dead, and many others.
While heading up Capitol/EMI some 25 years ago, Smith recorded over 200 hours of interviews with artists like Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Ray Charles, Woody Herman, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, B.B. King and many more, running the gamut of genres from rock and R&B to jazz and blues music. Smith used excerpts of many of these interviews in his best-selling 1988 book Off The Record, and he recently donated the full audio archive to the Library of Congress, which has begun digitizing the recordings, several of which are already available for listening in the Capitol Hill Reading Room on the LOC website. The full archive of interviews, The Joe Smith Collection, will be archived at the Library's Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpepper, Virginia.
"In recent years, it dawned on me that, if anything, the significance of recollections from Jerry Lee Lewis, Mick Jagger, Smokey Robinson, Ahmet Ertegun, Herb Alpert, Ruth Brown and all the other notables I was fortunate enough to interview, are truly part of the fabric of our cultural history," says Smith in a press release. "I wanted to share this treasure trove with any and all who might be interested. The Library of Congress is, clearly, the venue most appropriate and best equipped to do just that now and into the future. I hope that generations to come will benefit from hearing the voices of these brilliant artists and industry luminaries recounting their personal histories."
Here on the About.com Blues website, we've been hiding from the heat, but still managed to find a little time to post some stuff for your reading enjoyment. Guest Author Steve Pick provides an advance look at Rick Estrin and the Nightcats' One Wrong Turn album with his recent review, while the Reverend reviewed the Tedeschi Trucks Band's Everybody's Talkin' live album. Our Blues Artist of the Month for June is Albert King, and the Reverend takes another look at the great blues guitarist's I'll Play The Blues For You album with a lengthy review.
Bo Diddley photo courtesy Chess Records