Joe Smith donates interview archives

Former Warner Bros. Records prexy gives tapes to Library of Congress

Joe Smith, former prexy of Warner Bros., Elektra and Capitol Records, has donated recorded interviews with more than 200 top musicians to the Library of Congress.

Smith’s archives, comprising 238 hours of interviews taped over the course of two years, served as the basis for the exec’s book “Off the Record,” published by Warner Books in 1988.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington called the Smith collection “an invaluable addition to the Library’s comprehensive collection of recorded sound. 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.”

Retired since 1993, Smith was a senior label exec for more than 25 years, and was responsible for signing such acts as the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt and the Eagles.

Among Smith’s high-profile oral history subjects were Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, David Bowie, Jerry Lee Lewis, Tony Bennett, B.B. King, Quincy Jones and the late Artie Shaw, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Ahmet Ertegun and Les Paul.

Smith’s recordings will be housed in the Library’s Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Virg.