Monday, August 25, 2014

Part 4 of Exclusive Interview with Irwin Chusid, Administrator for Sun Ra LLC

Christopher Eddy from Sun Ra Arkive: The story of the Sun Ra’s master tapes is almost mythological. They were recorded in a large variety of manners—from professional studio dates to live and rehearsal recordings. There are stories of master tapes and copies of tapes spread across the world in chaos. Michael Anderson was Sun Ra’s self-appointed archivist shortly after he joined the band in the late 1970s, and I know he has spent years trying to bring order and honor to the chaos. What can you tell us about the official archive and the physical state and breadth of the collection?

Irwin Chusid, Administrator for Sun Ra LLC: With due deference to Michael, the status of the tapes is a topic I would prefer that he address publicly—if he’s inclined. I’d simply say that, considering the difficult life circumstances and severe financial strain he faces on a daily basis, Michael is doing the best he can. He works constantly. He needs an assistant, but can’t afford to pay one. He has had offers from academic settings and professional archives who are willing to accept custody of the tapes. But to Michael, this is unacceptable because he would lose immediate access to the reels and relinquish control of the collection. He has ambitious plans, but no capital to pursue them. 

We do have an agreement in place that if anything happens to Michael, I can take legal possession of the tapes and hold them for safekeeping. My impulse would be to get those tapes into a professional, non-profit archive, knowing that the inherent rights in the recordings and compositions would be retained by Sun Ra LLC. 

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