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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.

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