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Lester Bangs

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Lester Bangs (born Leslie Conway Bangs, December 14, 1948April 30, 1982) was an American music journalist, author and musician. A very influential, if not founding, voice in rock music criticism, Bangs died in New York City, overdosing after treating a cold with Darvon and Valium.

Contents

History

Bangs was born in Escondido, California. His mother was a devout Jehovah's Witness; his father died when Bangs was young. In 1969, Bangs began writing freelance after reading an ad in Rolling Stone soliciting readers' reviews. His first piece was a negative review of the MC5 album Kick Out The Jams. He later worked for Creem, The Village Voice, Penthouse, Playboy, New Musical Express and many others.

Bangs claimed his influences were not so much predecessors in journalism as it was beat authors, in particular William S. Burroughs. His ranting style, similar to Hunter S. Thompson's gonzo journalism, and his tendency to insult and confront his interviewees earned him distinction; it also got him fired from Rolling Stone by Jann Wenner in 1973 for being "disrespectful to musicians."

Punk rock

Lester Bangs is often credited with inventing the term "punk" in reference to music:

  • "Never mind that they came on like a bunch of sixteen-year-old punks on a meth power trip...." ("The MC5: Kick Out The Jams", 1970)
  • "... then punk bands started cropping up who were writing their own songs but taking the Yardbirds' sound and reducing it to this kind of goony fuzztone clatter". ("Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung", 1971)
  • Look at it this way: there are many here among us for whom the life force is best represented by the livid twitching of one tortured nerve, or even a full-scale anxiety attack. I do not subscribe to this point of view 100%, but I understand it, have lived it. Thus the shriek, the caterwaul, the chainsaw gnarlgnashing, the yowl and the whizz that decapitates may be reheard by the adventurous or emotionally damaged as mellifluous bursts of unarguable affirmation. ("A Reasonable Guide to Horrible Noise", (1980)

Legacy

Selected works

By Lester Bangs

  • Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung: The Work of a Legendary Critic, collected writings, Griel Marcus, ed. Anchor Press, 1988. (ISBN 0679720456)
  • Main Lines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste: A Lester Bangs Reader, collected writings, John Morthland, ed. Anchor Press, 2003. (ISBN 0375713670)

About Lester Bangs

  • Let it Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America's Greatest Rock Critic, biography, Jim Derogatis. Broadway Books, 2000. (ISBN 0767905091).

External links

  • Template:Fr Audiobook (mp3) (http://www.incipitblog.com/index.php/2005/06/06/lester-bangs-psychotic-reactions-et-autres-carburateurs-flingues-iggy-pop-lampe-a-souder-sado_maso-1977/) : "Iggy Pop,Blowtorch in Bondage" translated in French
  • MENTOR. EDITOR. LESTER. A Personal Appreciation (http://www.creemmagazine.com/BeatGoesOn/LesterBangs/BadTaste.html) by Jeffrey Morgan of Creem.
  • A Bangs tribute (http://www.furious.com/perfect/lesterbangstribute.html) at Perfect Sound Forever.
  • Bangs' own section (http://www.rockcritics.com/archives_lester_bangs.html) at rockcritics.com.
  • Bangs reviews (http://www.harbour.sfu.ca/~hayward/van/reviews/astral.html) one of his two favorite albums of the 1960s, Van Morrison's Astral Weeks.
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