Lester Bangs

lester bangs

Leslie Conway ‘Lester’ Bangs (1948 – 1982) was an American music journalist and  musician. He wrote for ‘Creem’ and ‘Rolling Stone’ magazines and has been called one of the ‘most influential’ voices in rock criticism. 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,’ which he sent to ‘Rolling Stone’ with a note detailing that should the magazine decide not to publish the review, then they would have to contact Lester and tell him why. They published it.

Bangs wrote about Janis Joplin’s death by drug overdose, ‘It’s not just that this kind of early death has become a fact of life that has become disturbing, but that it’s been accepted as a given so quickly.’ In 1973, Jann Wenner fired Bangs from ‘Rolling Stone,’ so he moved to Detroit to edit and write for ‘Creem.’ Bangs idolized the noise music of Lou Reed.

His style was frequently confrontational: ‘Well basically I just started out to lead [an interview] with the most insulting question I could think of. Because it seemed to me that the whole thing of interviewing as far as rock stars and that was just such a suck-up. It was groveling obeisance to people who weren’t that special, really. It’s just a guy, just another person, so what?’

Bangs was also a musician in his own right. He teamed up with Joey Ramone’s brother, Mickey Leigh to put together a New York group named Birdland. In 1980 he traveled to Austin, Texas, and met a punk rock group named the Delinquents. During his stay in Austin he recorded an album as Lester Bangs and the Delinquents entitled ‘Jook Savages on the Brazos.’

Bangs died in New York on April 30, 1982, of an overdose of Darvon, Valium and Nyquil. He is reported to have been listening to The Human League’s album, ‘Dare,’ at the time of his death.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.