Collection Highlights at the Rock Hall Library and Archives

Monday, July 22: 2 p.m.
Posted by Ned Denby
Recordings for the "underground" from the KQRS collection includes early interview with Patti Smith

Since beginning my internship at the Library and Archives this summer, I've had the unique opportunity to process a number of collections, digitizing analog audio and video materials and organizing paper-based collections. Along the way, I've uncovered some real treasures. Here are some of my favorites:

The first collection I processed was the Jay Ruby Rock ‘n’ Roll Conference Lecture, an audio recording of the lecture, “'You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here': The Social Implications of Rock 'n' Roll,” given by the donor, Jay W. Ruby, at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Conference at Mills College in 1967. I really enjoyed this lecture, because Ruby focuses on describing the musical communities of the time to an academic audience that may or may not have been familiar with them, going into detail about the connection between rock music and hallucinogenic drugs and religion.

I also processed the KQRS Collection, donated by Shel Danielson, a long-time disc jockey at the KQRS radio station in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The bulk of the collection consists of reel-to-reel recordings of commercials for concerts and albums that the station broadcasted from 1973 to 1976.  Some commercials exist in two versions: one that was broadcast during the day for “normal people,” and one that was played to attract the underground crowd later at night. The collection also contains an audio recording of a great early interview with Patti Smith (this was the surprise), in which she talks about her early influences, most importantly poetry and Arthur Rimbaud.

the rock and roll hall of fame and museum opens library and archives to store rock historyAfter that, I worked on the Joel Makower Woodstock Interviews, which contain the original audiocassette interviews Makower conducted while researching his book, Woodstock: The Oral History, also available at the Library and Archives. Because our archival collections need to be quickly processed in order to make them available to researchers, we’re not always able to spend the time we would like reading, listening to, or viewing materials in collections. This collection fell into that category, so I was unable to listen to the tapes, but the interview with members of Port-O-San, the company that provided Woodstock with its portable toilets, sounds like it could be my favorite!

To get some experience with paper collections, I also processed the Rick Taylor Papers, a collection donated by Taylor containing contracts, itineraries, and financial papers from some of the many concert tours for which he served as accountant. Luther Vandross is the best-documented artist of this collection, but other famous acts featured include Poison, U2, and Britney Spears. The tour riders are my favorite part about this collection: the lists of what each venue is required to provide in an artist’s dressing room, and when they are required to provide it, can be both strange and hilarious.

The Eva M. Jones Audiocassettes were good practice for another collection I recently completed work on, a collection of bootleg concert recordings on compact disc donated by Frederick S. Boros. The Eva M. Jones Audiocassettes consist of five bootleg recordings of concerts from 1966 to 1978 by Bob Dylan, the Band, Bruce Springsteen, and Stephen Stills with Neil Young; while the Frederick S. Boros Audio Recordings collection is 25 boxes of CDs, 10 of which are of Bruce Springsteen concerts alone. I’m pretty sure it includes every Springsteen concert up to 2009. I haven’t finished processing the collection yet, but so far I have learned a lot about Springsteen and the extent to which some fans will collect on their favorite artists.

Ned Denby (pictured) is participating in the Library and Archives internship program.


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