Lester BangsLester Bangs, (1949 - April 30), 1982 was an American music journalist, author and musician. He died in New York City of an overdose of painkillers, possibly unintentional.
Bangs was an extremely influential voice in music writing from the end of the 1960s until his death in 1982. Bangs started out writing as a freelancer for Rolling Stone in 1969, and later worked for Creem Magazine, The Village Voice, Penthouse, Playboy, New Musical Express, and many others.
His ranting style, similar to Hunter S. Thompson's gonzo journalism, and his tendency to insult and become confrontational with his interview subjects made him distinctive. His style also got him fired from Rolling Stone by Jann Wenner in 1973 for being "disrespectful to musicians". Bangs himself claimed his influences were not so much predecessors in journalism as it was beat authors, in particular William S. Burroughs.
Lester Bangs, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, appears in Cameron Crowe's autobiographical movie Almost Famous (2000), about a young music journalist who gets an assignment from Rolling Stone in the 1970s, and considers Lester Bangs his mentor and inspiration.
Jim Derogatis's biography of Bangs is titled Let it Blurt (ISBN 0767905091).
Some of Bangs's best work is collected in Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung (ISBN 0679720456). Here's a quotation from an article collected in
that volume, A Reasonable Guide to Horrible Noise (1980):
- 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.