For at least two years, John Hammond and I saw each other on a daily basis, but only once was our conversation recorded—this is it. I had recently started work on my biography of Bessie Smith and John was one of the many people I interviewed. If our exchange seems to lack the kind of depth one might expect, it is because John and I had so many conversations about Bessie that I pretty much had it covered.
John and Aretha Franklin at Columbia's 30th Street studio, 1960.
(Columbia publicity photo)
The tape was made in November, 1970, in a midtown Manhattan luncheonette. There is background noise and there are a few times when the cassette machine cuts out or slows down for a few seconds, but these are fleeing glitches that did not seem to warrant a fix.