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Library of Congress receives over 200 hours of rock royalty interviews

Les Paul

Mae Ryan/KPCC

Les Paul created custom guitars for rock and roll heavyweights such as Eddie Van Halen.

Is that a gesture of cultural preservation, man? Well, turn it up, man.

The Library of Congress received a musical infusion Monday thanks to former Capitol Records/EMI president and retired music executive, Joe Smith, who donated more than 200 audio interviews of some of the world's greatest musicians.

During his two years in the top seat, Smith, now 84-years-old, recorded interviews with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald, David Bowie, Artie Shaw, Ray Charles, Ahmet Ertegun, Les Paul, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Ray Charles, Elton John, Tina Turner, and hundreds more to amass his 238-hour archive.

In 1988 he compiled a number of interviews into a book, "Off the Record." Today, the unabridged rock and roll recollections are digitized in world's largest library, and available to researchers at the Capitol Hill reading room. A select number of interviews should be available later this year on the library's website.


New documentary 'Shut Up, Little Man!' looks at going viral before the Internet

The new documentary "Shut Up, Little Man! An Audio Misadventure" opens Friday in Los Angeles and New York after previously opening in the heart of the film's story, San Francisco. It tells the story of two roommates who decided to record the darkly funny arguments of their alcoholic neighbors, Peter J. Haskett and Raymond Huffman. I had the chance to speak with those two neighbors who made the recordings, who went by the monickers "Eddie Lee Sausage" and "Mitchell D."

A young Mitch D and Eddie Lee Sausage.

Eddie and Mitch moved from the Midwest into a bright pink San Francisco apartment in 1987. Their neighbors would get drunk and fight until the wee hours of the morning, and Peter shouting "Shut up, little man" became the iconic cry of those arguments. Eddie and Mitch began recording Peter and Ray and ultimately started distributing copies to their friends, which started a viral phenomenon in the pre-Internet, pre-social media, pre-YouTube era.