CalArts Alumni Magazine

Joe Smith (1928–2019)

CalArts lost a friend and supporter when Trustee Emeritus Joe Smith passed away in December 2019.

Smith joined the CalArts Board of Trustees in 1989 and, during his long tenure on the board, served on its Executive, Academic and Campus Affairs, Finance, Investment and Audit, Campaign, and Development committees. His broad industry experience in leading music business giants, such as Elektra and Capitol Records, provided the Institute with an invaluable link to the recording industry.

His wise counsel and good humor contributed immeasurably to CalArts’ board activity for 25 years, and the class he taught on the inner workings of the music business is still well-remembered.

Smith enthusiastically embraced the CalArts Jazz CD project, and his deep understanding of its potential and importance was critical in providing students with access to Capitol Records’ recording studios in Hollywood. His generous commitment to the Jazz CD project kept it alive through successive ownerships of Capitol Records and gave more than 500 talented young musicians their first studio experience—a most significant and lasting contribution to their lives and budding careers.

On the Record, Smith’s book of interviews with recording artists, as well as his donation of 200 audio interviews to the Smithsonian Institution, will be a national treasure long into the future.

Joe Smith