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The ballad of John and Yoko — and Paul — continues more than 40 years later

In 2000, a New York-based architect named Cass Calder Smith was helping his father move into a new apartment, when he discovered a tremendous inventory of interview tapes — hundreds of hours of conversations with the biggest rock legends. His journalist father, Howard Smith, had enviable gigs as both a New York City radio personality (for WABC, later WPLJ) and a star columnist at the Village Voice during its heyday, in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, when every revolution — sexual, anti-war, civil rights, gay liberation— was not only at its height, but converging. Unflappable, immensely knowledgeable, and sharp-witted, he earned the confidence of his subjects — people like Mick Jagger, Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda (freshly returned from Cannes, after the premiere of "Easy Rider"), Frank Zappa, Eric Clapton, Lou Reed, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and Jerry Garcia (though Howard admits to John Lennon in an interview that he's not a fan of the Dead) — who spoke with him, on repeat occasions, often at a crucial juncture in history, or in their lives, and opened up at length and with rare candor. These original reels from the interviews, which were conducted for Howard Smith’s column and radio show, were packed away in boxes, untouched for 40 years, in the back of his West Village loft. Howard Smith, now 76, and fighting cancer,  confessed to Ben Sisario in the New York Times in November that he’d kept them around, half-hoping to use them for his memoirs, thinking they would be “a good memory jogger. Things were happening every day that were just incredible.”

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