During the 1960s and 1970s, mustachioed reporter Howard Smith worked at two New York media outlets then at their glorious prime. He hosted an overnight weekend show on album-oriented FM rock station WPLJ and wrote a regular column for alternative newsweekly The Village Voice. Smith was thus perhaps the preeminent reporter on the counterculture during the height of its hairy and somewhat hazy reign. As such he conducted extensive interviews for print and broadcast media with many of the most notable, entertaining, and outlandish political and musical figures of the era.
These interviews were heavily edited and then selectively aired or published. But Smith kept the raw reel-to-reel tape recordings—hundreds of hours of unexpurgated, candid, and intimate conversations—in boxes in his Greenwich Village loft, with the aim of one day using them in his memoirs. For