Bo Diddley talking about his own demise. David Bowie taunting Mick Jagger for being too “conservative.” Les Paul musing about his invention of his namesake guitar. Those are just some of the topics discussed in a treasure trove of interviews being donated to the Library of Congress.

The interviews come from the archives of Joe Smith, founding executive at Warner Bros. Records, former president of Capitol/EMI Records and author of the 1988 book, Off The Record. Totaling some 230 hours, the interviews served as the foundation of his book and will now be available for study in their entirety.

“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,” said the 84-year-old Smith in a Library of Congress statement. “I hope that generations to come will benefit from hearing the voices of these brilliant artists and industry luminaries recounting their personal histories. I’m just thrilled that the Library of Congress has agreed to preserve and safeguard these audio artifacts.”

“These frank and poignant oral histories of many of the nationís musical icons give us unique insights into them as artists, entertainers and human beings,” added Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “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.”

Along with the aforementioned recollections, Smith’s status as an industry insider (who signed recording contracts with the likes of Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead) allowed him access to other notable names such as with Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Ella Fitzgerald and Paul Simon.

— Michael Verity, CBS Local


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