In the 1980s former music executive Joe Smith interviewed more than 200 renowned singers, musicians and icons of the industry to talk about their lives, their music, and their peers, forming the basis of a landmark oral history, "Off the Record," published in 1988.
Now, the Library of Congress has announced that Smith is donating this treasure trove of unedited recordings to the Library to be preserved and disseminated for generations of music lovers. The "who's who" of music legends that Smith recorded - comprising 238 hours of interviews - includes Artie Shaw, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Barbra Streisand, Little Richard, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Paul Simon, David Bowie, Billy Joel, Sting, Tony Bennett, Joan Baez, James Taylor, Dick Clark, Tina Turner, B.B. King, Quincy Jones, Harry Belafonte and many others. The recordings have been digitized and will be accessible in the Library of Congress' reading room, with abridged recordings to be available online later this year.
In this excerpt from Smith's interview with Paul McCartney, the former Beatle talks about the reception he and his mates received in America: "It was like Heaven," he said - even the traffic cops in Florida were fans.
Paul McCartney on Beatlemania in the U.S.