Lester Bangs

Biography of Lester Bangs

Leslie Conway "Lester" Bangs (December 13, 1948 – April 30, 1982) was an American music journalist, author, and musician. He wrote for Creem and Rolling Stone magazines and was known for his leading influence in rock music criticism.

Early life

Bangs was born in Escondido, California, the son of Norma Belle (née Clifton) and Conway Leslie Bangs, a truck driver. His parents were both from Texas; his father was from Enlow, and his mother was from Pecos County. Norma Belle was a devout Jehovah's Witness. Conway died in a fire when his son 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 requesting that if the magazine were to pass on publishing the review, that he receive a reason for their decision; however, no reply was forthcoming as the magazine did indeed publish the review.

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, 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.

Bangs was enamored with the noise music of Lou Reed. Bangs wrote the essay/interview "Let Us Now Praise Famous Death Dwarves" about Reed in 1975.

At one point he climbed onto the stage whilst the J. Geils Band were playing in concert, and typed a supposed review of the event whilst in full view of the audience.

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