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Lester Bangs

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Escondido, California, USA (1948 – 1982)

Lester Bangs (aka Leslie Conway Bangs) was an American music journalist, author and musician. He wrote for Creem and Rolling Stone magazines, and has been called one of the “most influential” voices in rock criticism.

Bangs was born Escondido, California, USA on December 14, 1948. 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, 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. Instead, they published it.

He 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, a negative review of Canned Heat being the final event. He moved to Detroit to edit and write for Creem. After leaving Creem, he wrote for The Village Voice, Penthouse, Playboy, New Musical Express, and many other publications.
“Well basically I just started out to lead 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?”

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