Remembering CalArts Trustee Emeritus Joe Smith

Remembering CalArts Trustee Emeritus Joe Smith

Legendary music executive Joe Smith, who worked with the Grateful Dead, the Eagles, Bonnie Raitt and many others, passed away recently at the age of 91. A CalArts Trustee Emeritus, Smith was key in helping launch the annual CalArts Jazz CD project more than 30 years ago through Capitol Records / EMI.

CalArts President Ravi S. Rajan sent the following statement to the CalArts community:

It is with profound sadness that we relay the news of the death of Trustee Emeritus Joe Smith. The CalArts family has lost a great friend and supporter.

Mr. Smith joined the CalArts Board of Trustees in 1989, and over his many years on the board served on our Executive, Academic & Campus Affairs, Finance, Investment, Audit, Campaign, and Development Committees. His deep experience and leadership in the music industry through companies such as Elektra and Capitol Records provided the Institute with an invaluable link to these worlds.

Mr. Smith’s long commitment, wise counsel, and good humor contributed immeasurably to CalArts’s board activity for 25 years; and the class he taught on the inner workings of the music business is still well-remembered. He spearheaded and embraced the CalArts Jazz CD project, and his deep understanding of  potential and importance to our music students was the motivation for his determined effort to give students access to Capitol Records’ recording studios, a practice that continues to this day. Mr. Smith’s commitment to the Jazz CD project kept it alive through changes in ownership of Capitol, and has given over 500 talented jazz artists their first studio experience -- making a significant and lasting contribution to their lives and careers.

Mr. Smith’s book of interviews with recording artists, On the Record, and his donation of over 200 audio interviews to the Smithsonian Institution will be a treasured resource long into the future.

On behalf of the entire CalArts community of students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and friends, I express heartfelt condolences to Mr. Smith’s family and friends, as we all remember with deep gratitude his great generosity and support of CalArts.