G.E. Smith

Music Director / Composer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his two-and-a-half hour Archive interview, G.E. Smith talks about his early life, how he first got into music, getting his first guitar, and joining his first band. He describes attending a broadcast of the show Hootenanny and then later, in 1969, attending Woodstock. He recounts playing guitar in Gilda Radner's one-woman Broadway show "Gilda Live," and joining the band Hall & Oates, with whom he first appeared on Saturday Night Live in 1982. He recalls being hired by Lorne Michaels to be music director on Saturday Night Live in 1985, assembling the band, and the sound of the band during his tenure. Smith discusses the many music luminaries he worked with on Saturday Night Live, including Eddie Van Halen, Keith Richards, Al Green, Paul Simon, Mick Jagger, and Aerosmith (who performed the "Wayne's World" theme song on-air, which Smith himself had written). He speaks of famous incidents on the show such as Sinead O'Connor's infamous "Pope ripping," and details touring with Bob Dylan while still working on Saturday Night Live. Finally, he chronicles then-current projects, including collaborating on a wounded veteran charity project with Roger Waters. Adrienne Faillace conducted the interview on October 5, 2015 in New York, NY.

"When I was a kid, I would look at pictures of all those old bands from the '20s and the '30s and the '40s and I'd go, 'That's what I want to be. I want to be one of the cats.' All of the sudden now here I am among them. It was a joy for me."

Highlights
G.E. Smith on becoming music director for Saturday Night Live
02:49
G.E. Smith on playing into and out of commercial breaks on Saturday Night Live  
02:42
G.E. Smith on working with Aerosmith and writing the "Wayne's World" theme for a new Mike Myers sketch on Saturday Night Live
01:38
G.E. Smith on playing guitar for Hall & Oates and appearing with them on Saturday Night Live
03:47
G.E. Smith on various instruments he plays, and having a guitar named after him by Fender in 2007
02:13
G.E. Smith on his duties as music director on Saturday Night Live
01:30
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on getting his first guitar and learning how to play; on his earliest musical influences
On music he listened to on the radio as a child and his first exposure to rock and roll; on attending a broadcast of Hootenanny and learning to play from watching other musicians; on learning he wanted to be a professional musician and his first paid gig
On attending Woodstock in 1969; on playing guitar for Gilda Radner's Broadway show "Gilda Live"; on playing guitar for David Bowie and appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
On playing guitar for Hall & Oates and appearing with them on Saturday Night Live; on becoming music director for Saturday Night Live; on his duties as music director on Saturday Night Live
On working for Lorne Michaels on Saturday Night Live; on assembling the band for Saturday Night Live and the sound of the band during his tenure; on the set-up in Studio 8H where the band played on Saturday Night Live and playing during commercial breaks

Chapter 2

On creating musical arrangements for Saturday Night Live; on his influence on Lorne Michaels in booking musical guests for Saturday Night Live; on a typical workweek on Saturday Night Live, and working with the likes of Chris Farley and Nirvana
On Robert Mitchum hosting Saturday Night Live; on the Saturday Night Live band backing up the musical guests; on working with various people on Saturday Night Live including Eddie Van Halen, Keith Richards, Al Green, Buddy Guy, and Paul Simon
On working with various people and bands on Saturday Night Live including The Replacements, Brian Ferry, Sting, Elvis Costello, Mick Jagger, Tracey Chapman, Cypress Hill, and Aerosmith; on writing the "Wayne's World" theme
On working with Eric Clapton on Saturday Night Live; on the infamous Sinead O'Connor "Pope ripping" incident on Saturday Night Live; on his favorite musical moments on the show
On Miley Cyrus on the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special; on leaving Saturday Night Live in 1995; on his greatest contribution to Saturday Night Live

Chapter 3

On touring with Bob Dylan while still working at Saturday Night Live; on working with and getting to know Bob Dylan
On acting as music director for the Emmy Awards in 1988; on various instruments he plays, and having a guitar named after him by Fender in 2007; on then-current projects, including collaborating on a wounded veteran charity with Roger Waters
On advice to aspiring musicians; on career achievements and regrets and how he'd like to be remembered
Shows

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

View Show Page
G.E. Smith on acting as musical director for the Emmy Awards in 1988
01:03

Hootenanny

View Show Page
G.E. Smith on attending a broadcast of Hootenanny and learning to play from watching other musicians
03:56

Saturday Night Live

View Show Page
G.E. Smith on the early bands playing live on Saturday Night Live
00:58
G.E. Smith on playing guitar for Hall & Oates and appearing with them on Saturday Night Live
03:47
G.E. Smith on becoming music director for Saturday Night Live
02:49
G.E. Smith on his duties as music director on Saturday Night Live
01:30
G.E. Smith on working for Lorne Michaels on Saturday Night Live
01:05
G.E. Smith on assembling the band for Saturday Night Live and the sound of the band during his tenure
02:57
G.E. Smith on how it felt playing in the studio on Saturday Night Live and his early performances on the show
02:24
G.E. Smith on the set-up in Studio 8H where the band played on Saturday Night Live and playing during commercial breaks
05:02
G.E. Smith on creating musical arrangements for Saturday Night Live
03:18
G.E. Smith on his influence on Lorne Michaels in booking musical guests for Saturday Night Live
02:24
G.E. Smith on a typical work week on Saturday Night Live and working with the likes of Chris Farley and Nirvana
08:19
G.E. Smith on Robert Mitchum hosting Saturday Night Live
03:51
G.E. Smith on the Saturday Night Live band backing up the musical guests
01:07
G.E. Smith on working with Eddie Van Halen on Saturday Night Live
03:44
G.E. Smith on working with Keith Richards on Saturday Night Live
02:10
G.E. Smith on working with Al Green on Saturday Night Live
01:18
G.E. Smith on Buddy Guy sitting in with the band on Saturday Night Live
00:40
G.E. Smith on working with Paul Simon on Saturday Night Live
01:17
G.E. Smith on The Replacements appearing on Saturday Night Live
01:33
G.E. Smith on Bryan Ferry appearing on Saturday Night Live
02:29
G.E. Smith on working with Sting and Elvis Costello on Saturday Night Live
01:48
G.E. Smith on working with Mick Jagger and Tracy Chapman on Saturday Night Live
01:47
G.E. Smith on working with Cypress Hill on Saturday Night Live
01:06
G.E. Smith on working with Aerosmith and writing the "Wayne's World" theme on Saturday Night Live
01:38
G.E. Smith on working with Eric Clapton on Saturday Night Live
03:15
G.E. Smith on the infamous Sinead O'Connor "Pope ripping" incident on Saturday Night Live
02:00
G.E. Smith on his favorite musical moments on Saturday Night Live and the show becoming more corporate
02:20
G.E. Smith on Miley Cyrus on Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special
01:15
G.E. Smith on leaving Saturday Night Live in 1995
01:35
G.E. Smith on his greatest contribution to Saturday Night Live
01:31
G.E. Smith on the logistics of touring with Bob Dylan while still appearing on Saturday Night Live
01:13

Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The

View Show Page
G.E. Smith on playing guitar for David Bowie and appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
02:32
Topics

Advice

View Topic
G.E. Smith on advice to aspiring musicians
02:23

Censorship / Standards & Practices

View Topic
G.E. Smith on the infamous Sinead O'Connor "Pope ripping" incident on Saturday Night Live
02:00

Creative Influences and Inspiration

View Topic
G.E. Smith on his earliest musical influences
01:48
G.E. Smith on music he listened to on the radio as a child and his first exposure to rock and roll
04:39
G.E. Smith on attending a broadcast of Hootenanny and learning to play from watching other musicians
03:55
G.E. Smith on playing guitar for Hall & Oates and appearing with them on Saturday Night Live
03:47

Emmy Awards

View Topic
G.E. Smith on acting as music director for the Emmy Awards in 1988
01:03

First Big Break

View Topic
G.E. Smith on playing guitar for Hall & Oates and appearing with them on Saturday Night Live
03:47

Pivotal Career Moments

View Topic
G.E. Smith on playing guitar for David Bowie and appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
02:32
G.E. Smith on becoming music director for Saturday Night Live
02:49
G.E. Smith on his earliest musical influences
01:48
G.E. Smith on music he listened to on the radio as a child and his first exposure to rock and roll
04:39
G.E. Smith on playing guitar for Hall & Oates and appearing with them on Saturday Night Live
03:47
G.E. Smith on attending a broadcast of Hootenanny and learning to play from watching other musicians
03:55

Pop Culture

View Topic
G.E. Smith on working with Aerosmith and writing the "Wayne's World" theme on Saturday Night Live
01:38
G.E. Smith on the infamous Sinead O'Connor "Pope ripping" incident on Saturday Night Live
02:00

TV Theme Songs

View Topic
G.E. Smith on working with Aerosmith and writing the "Wayne's World" theme on Saturday Night Live
01:38

Television Industry

View Topic
G.E. Smith on the infamous Sinead O'Connor "Pope ripping" incident on Saturday Night Live
02:00
G.E. Smith on advice to aspiring musicians
02:23
Professions

Music Director

View Profession
G.E. Smith on his duties as music director on Saturday Night Live
01:30
G.E. Smith on assembling the band for Saturday Night Live and the sound of the band during his tenure
02:57
G.E. Smith on how it felt playing in the studio on Saturday Night Live and his early performances on the show
02:24
G.E. Smith on creating musical arrangements for Saturday Night Live
03:18
G.E. Smith on advice to aspiring musicians
02:23

Music Professionals

View Profession
G.E. Smith on his duties as music director on Saturday Night Live
01:30
G.E. Smith on assembling the band for Saturday Night Live and the sound of the band during his tenure
02:57
G.E. Smith on how it felt playing in the studio on Saturday Night Live and his early performances on the show
02:24
G.E. Smith on creating musical arrangements for Saturday Night Live
03:18
G.E. Smith on advice to aspiring musicians
02:23
Genres

Awards Shows

View Genre
G.E. Smith on acting as music director for the Emmy Awards in 1988
01:03

Comedy Series

View Genre
G.E. Smith on being music director for Saturday Night Live (Part 1)
15:48
G.E. Smith on being music director on Saturday Night Live (Part 2)
50:49

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

View Genre
G.E. Smith on being music director for Saturday Night Live (Part 1)
15:48
G.E. Smith on being music director on Saturday Night Live (Part 2)
50:49
People

David Bowie

View Person Page
G.E. Smith on playing guitar for David Bowie and appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
02:32

Johnny Carson

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G.E. Smith on playing guitar for David Bowie and appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
02:32

Miley Cyrus

View Person Page
G.E. Smith on Miley Cyrus on Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special
01:15

Bob Dylan

View Person Page
G.E. Smith on touring with Bob Dylan while still working at Saturday Night Live
06:58
G.E. Smith on the logistics of touring with Bob Dylan while still appearing on Saturday Night Live
01:13
G.E. Smith on working with and getting to know Bob Dylan
04:43

Lorne Michaels

View Person Page
G.E. Smith on working for Lorne Michaels on Saturday Night Live
01:05
G.E. Smith on his influence on Lorne Michaels in booking musical guests for Saturday Night Live
02:23

Robert Mitchum

View Person Page
G.E. Smith on Robert Mitchum hosting Saturday Night Live
03:51

Mike Myers

View Person Page
G.E. Smith on working with Aerosmith and writing the "Wayne's World" theme for a new Mike Myers sketch on Saturday Night Live
01:38

Gilda Radner

View Person Page
G.E. Smith on playing guitar for Gilda Radner's Broadway show "Gilda Live"
03:53

Paul Simon

View Person Page
G.E. Smith on working with Paul Simon on Saturday Night Live
01:17

Sting

View Person Page
G.E. Smith on working with Sting and Elvis Costello on Saturday Night Live
01:48

All Interviews

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