PBS American Masters Archive Releases 1,000+ Hours of Uncut, Never-Before-Seen Interviews: Patti Smith, David Bowie, Neil Young & More

When we think of Amer­i­can mas­ters, we don’t think of David Bowie, who despite being a mas­ter was also the most Eng­lish rock star ever to live. But an inter­view with Bowie, nev­er before seen in full, nonethe­less appears in the new­ly opened Amer­i­can Mas­ters archive, hav­ing been shot for the long-run­ning PBS series’ 1997 doc­u­men­tary on Lou Reed — if not the most Amer­i­can rock star ever to live, then sure­ly the most New York one. “For me, New York was always James Dean walk­ing out in the mid­dle of the road, and it was always the Fugs, the Vil­lage Fugs. It was the Beats and it was SoHo. It was that kind of bohemi­an intel­lec­tu­al extrav­a­gance that made it so vibrant for some­one like me, grow­ing up in quite a gray, sub­ur­ban, ten­e­ment-filled South Lon­don envi­ron­ment.”

As with any soci­ety or cul­ture, it takes an out­sider to see things most clear­ly, or at any rate most vivid­ly. But then, cer­tain Amer­i­can-born Amer­i­cans also have pret­ty vivid impres­sions of their own. No less a New York icon than Pat­ti Smith, for instance, also sat for an inter­view about Lou Reed — as well as Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, the Chelsea Hotel, poet­ry, labels, impro­vi­sa­tion, John Coltrane, Jack­son Pol­lock, CBGB, and much else besides.

Smith’s full inter­view runs 44 min­utes, much longer than the brief clip above, but even it con­sti­tutes just a small frac­tion of the over 1,000 hours of sim­i­lar­ly uncut inter­view footage now made avail­able, com­plete with search­able tran­scripts, in the Amer­i­can Mas­ters archive.

Since its debut in 1986 Amer­i­can Mas­ters has pro­filed cul­tur­al fig­ures from Maya Angelou to Aretha Franklin, Ernest Hem­ing­way to Edgar Allan Poe, Mae West to Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe, Car­ol Bur­nett to Mel Brooks. Those last episodes include inter­views with the late Carl Rein­er, a tow­er­ing Amer­i­can come­di­an in his own right. In addi­tion to Rein­er’s half-hour on Bur­nett and hour on Brooks, you’ll also find in the archive four dif­fer­ent inter­views of Brooks him­self, as well as a sol­id three and a half hours with Bur­nett her­self. Neil Young on David Gef­fenWilliam F. Buck­ley on Wal­ter Cronkite, Cybill Shep­herd on Jeff Bridges, and Quin­cy Jones on Sid­ney Poiti­er — as well as, in two inter­views total­ing near­ly four hours, on Quin­cy Jones. Like all the best Amer­i­can lives, his con­tains many more sto­ries than one can tell at a sit­ting. Enter the the Amer­i­can Mas­ters archive here.

via Kot­tke

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A New Online Archive Lets You Lis­ten to 40 Years Worth of Ter­ry Gross’ Fresh Air Inter­views: Stream 22,000 Seg­ments Online

How Dick Cavett Brought Sophis­ti­ca­tion to Late Night Talk Shows: Watch 270 Clas­sic Inter­views Online

The New Studs Terkel Radio Archive Will Let You Hear 5,000+ Record­ings Fea­tur­ing the Great Amer­i­can Broad­cast­er & Inter­view­er

Free Archive of Audio Inter­views with Rock, Jazz & Folk Leg­ends Now on iTunes

Library of Con­gress Releas­es Audio Archive of Inter­views with Rock ‘n’ Roll Icons

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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