Photo by Ginny Winn/Michael Ochs Archives and Tommaso Boddi/WireImage //Getty Images

Warner Bros, Elektra, Capitol Label boss, Joe Smith, dies aged 91

News 04/12/2019

Former label boss, Joe Smith has passed away at the age of 91.

Smith was head of Warners when the label signed Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, the Doobie Brothers and more. Later, he joined Capitol as their big boss and in 1988, Smith wrote a book titled 'Off the Record: An Oral History of Popular Music', which featured interviews with iconic musicians like Bob Dylan, Sir Macca, Mick Jagger, Elton John and others whom he associated with.

Excecutive Director and President Mo Ostin and Joe Smith billboard on Sunset Strip Circa 1973
Photo by Ginny Winn/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Smith got his start in the music industry as a DJ before joining Warner Brothers in 1960 as a promotions executive. The jazz lover became president twelve years later before moving on to sister company, Elektra in 1975. He announced his retirement in '83 but ended up leading Capitol Records until 1993 before retiring for good.

In 2015, Smith told Variety, "I’m so fortunate to have gotten out when I got out of it because there’s no fun anymore."

… The record business fell apart when you could get music for nothing.

Smith also noted that the Grateful Dead band is one of the "most important signing" for him because they were "changing from the Petula Clark-Frank Sinatra company to what was happening in music."