Pop Culture Potpourri: The Library of Congress Has A Collection Of Interviews With Rock’n’Roll Legends

Bo Diddley in Prague (Lucerna Bar), 2005. picture by Stefan Reicheneder, used under permission under the GFDL, Cc-by-sa-3.0 licence. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bo_Diddley_Prag_2005_02.jpg
Bo Diddley, one of the Rock’n’Roll legends interviewed for the Joe Smith Collection at the Library of Congress. Original caption: Bo Diddley in Prague (Lucerna Bar) in 2005, picture by Stefan Reicheneder, used by permission under the GFDL, Cc-by-sa-3.0 licence. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bo_Diddley_Prag_2005_02.jpg

While glancing over the Open Culture blog, a resource that I highly recommend, by the way, I once again found a little gem for everyone interested in American popular culture of the twentieth century. The Library of Congress now hosts the digitized audio tapes of Joe Smith, a former record industry executive and DJ who in the late 1980s interviewed many of the then most famous stars of Rock’n’Roll and other genres in American popular music. His collection of interview tapes encompasses “238 hours of interviews over two years.” At the time, excerpts of these were made into his book Off the Record (Warner Books, 1988).

Highlights from these interviews, according to the LoC, include:

  • Bo Diddley talking about his own death
  • Mickey Hart’s revealing story about his father
  • Steven Tyler’s problems with drug addiction
  • Peter Frampton’s short-lived popularity
  • Bob Dylan’s surprising assessment of the turbulent ‘60s
  • David Bowie’s description of Mick Jagger as conservative
  • Paul McCartney’s frank admission of professional superiority
  • Les Paul’s creation of an electric guitar in 1929
  • Motown’s restrictive work environment
  • Herb Jeffries’ and Dave Brubeck’s recollections of working in a racially segregated society

Read more:

Library of Congress Releases Audio Archive of Interviews with Rock ‘n’ Roll Icons.” (Kate Rix, Open Culture, 11/30/2012) – The article also goes into more detail about the musicians interviewed.