Unearthed after more than 40 years and unheard since their original airing, the recordings of Village Voice “Scenes” columnist and radio personality Howard Smith are now available for the first time. Containing over 100 interviews, The Smith Tapes is released in monthly installments on digital retailers iTunes and Amazon MP3. This Collection focuses on the Beatles, and features 5 interviews with John Lennon & Yoko Ono, spanning from their Bed-In for Peace through their move to, and significant contributions within, New York City’s West Village culture. Please see full track listing and details below.
Between 1969 and 1972, Village Voice journalist and radio personality Howard Smith conducted hundreds of long-form interviews with rock stars, cultural icons, and political players of the time. He played small edited segments within his radio broadcasts, and saved the original uncut audio reels in the back of his West Village loft, where they sat unheard for 40 years. They have recently been digitized, restored and mastered, and are available in their unedited entirety.
The Smith Tapes— Collection 7 – John & Yoko & George
Paul is Dead Nov. 1969 / 12min.
As the rumor gains momentum, Smith phones Sandi Morse, the National Director of the Beatles’ fan club to ask her about what’s going on. A distraught Morse is overwhelmed by the frenzy surrounding the rumor and her failed attempts to quell it.
Dave Morrell Jan. 1972 / 27min.
Smith interviews the teenaged, rare recordings collector about the afternoon he spent trading memorabilia with John Lennon. Morrell then plays early rare Beatles’ recordings on the air.
John & Yoko’s Bed-In May 29, 1969 / 36min.
Smith speaks on the phone with John & Yoko, who are in their suite at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal for the second of their two Bed-Ins. Among other things, they discuss selling Peace as a commodity, the Activist Movement, and Lennon’s denial of being, nor intention of being, a leader.
John & Yoko at Hawkin’s Ranch Dec. 17, 1969 / 1hour 58min.
Smith traveled to Ronnie Hawkin’s Ranch outside of Toronto to interview John & Yoko. While eating shrimp tempura, they discuss the ins and outs of recording with the Beatles, the band’s uncertain future, Woodstock vs. Altamont, the impact of the Youth Movement.
George Harrison May1, 1970 / 37min.
Just before beginning work on his first solo album, All Things Must Pass, Harrison speaks with Smith about the Beatles breakup, why he thinks they ought to keep recording albums together and his own evolution as a songwriter.
John & Yoko at the Regency Hotel Dec. 12, 1970 / 1hour 27min.
Smith interviews John & Yoko the day after the Plastic Ono Band album release while they are in the midst of shooting 2 art films. They discuss the emotional process of their music, their time in Janov therapy, how about they handle fame, and whether the Beatles will ever get back together.
John & Yoko at the St. Regis Sept. 9, 1971 / 1hour 11min.
Smith interviews John & Yoko on the day Lennon’s album Imagine is released. They discuss Ono’s upcoming retrospective, Paul’s, George’s and Ringo’s individual albums, the media’s criticisms of their relationship, John’s “working class” nature, and future plans.
John & Yoko at Home Jan. 23, 1972 / 1hour 18min.
Smith drops by John & Yoko’s West Village apartment on the day of a WPLJ Beatles marathon. Heard at times in the background, the songs inspire and direct the conversation. They discuss the experience of being a Beatles and their break up, being a Beatle wife, the experience of stage fright and emotional rollercoaster of performing, breakthroughs acquired in Janov therapy, and meeting Black Panthers.