Let It Blurt

The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, Americas Greatest Rock Critic


A Sampling of Email from Readers


From: "Robert A. Farace, Jr." <rfarace@uconect.net To: <jimdero@earthlink.net Sent: Monday, April 03, 2000 9:39 PM Subject: the new book

Hi, Just thought I'd say that I've been looking forward to reading the book on Lester Bangs as soon as I found out about it. For the longest time I considered Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung to be the only book on rock worth reading, and although I've modified my opinion a little in the ensuing years, it's still the best. I had a habit for a while of picking up used copies whenever I saw them so I could give them to cool people that would appreciate it.

Would have been neat if you could have included a flexi disk of "Let it Blurt" with the book; I have it on an unlabelled tape somewhere, among many other unlabelled tapes, and I'd love to hear it again.

Thanks also for pointing out what should have been obvious to me, that Bangs's writing was firmly in the Beat tradition. I've long held that his writing was just as rock and roll as what he was writing about, but I never saw the parallel. I guess Bangs hopped up on Romilar writing about rock is not much different than Kerouac hopped up on speed writing about bop.

There's a guy that owns a used record store in the area (Replay Records, West Haven, CT) that played behind Lester one night, I think he said in the basement of the Village Gate. Quine was on guitar; I forget who else he said played. He didn't know about the book, so I told him.

Anyway, looking forward to a good read. I'm sure the book will meet with an appreciative audience.

-- Bob Farace

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From: "Steven Ward" <sward@theadvocate.com To: <jimdero@earthlink.net Sent: Monday, April 10, 2000 10:18 AM Subject: Throat Culture

Hi Jim,

Steven Ward here. I'm the guy that did the Paul Nelson interview for rockcritics.com.

I just finished your Bangs bio. It was wonderful. One of the best rock bios or writer bios I have ever read. Good job.


Steven Ward

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From: "AARON COHEN" <aaron.cohen@morningstar.com To: <jimdero@earthlink.net Sent: Wednesday, April 19, 2000 2:04 PM Subject: Let It Blurt Made My Weekend!

Hi, Jim:

I just wanted to drop a quick note saying that I was completely engrossed in "Let It Blurt" and only slept a little between the time I opened it and when I finished the tome. Last time that happened to me over the course of a weekend was the fall of '87 when "Psychotic Reactions" was published, and it helped push me along a path that I have continued to follow. Amazing the amount of research that you did in working with Bangs' family, delving into the history of the Jehovah's Witnesses, among all the other assorted interviews and reading that packed the pages. My favorite parts, though, were when Lester and Paul Nelson sat on the rooftop during the '77 blackout watching the Bronx fires, and when Lester asked Bob Marley if he ever used his gold BMW to ram a goat. Before I read it, my friend Monica Kendrick warned me that "How To Be A Rock Critic" would hit way close to home, and she was right.

Since I was reviewing the Curtis Mayfield Memorial Tribute for the Tribune, I couldn't attend the Empty Bottle book release party/gig. It's cool, though, that both events that night were benefits for Cabrini Green causes.

I'll keep on listening to your show. It's my favorite program on Chicago radio.


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Subj: congrats Date: 4/19/00 11:20:46 PM Central Daylight Time From: Rwnedelkof To: JimDeRo

Dear Jim:

Don't know if you'll recall that we met years ago at the New Music Seminar, or maybe South by Southwest, or both, but I wanted to congratulate you about <ILet It Blurt. </IThe research is staggering and the data far better integrated than is the case with some writers with a dozen bios under their belt. A more detailed email about my impressions of the book will be sent later. I do want to say that, given Doubleday's usual keenness to issue audiobooks, I'm surprised to find, via amazon or elsewhere, that there seem to be no plans for an audio version of this one, using all the tapes. People like myself, who have a couple of hours of Lester on tape (from Phil Milstein's collection in my case) and who've met Tosches and Meltzer, have small difficulty conjuring up in our heads the uproarious words of the Buffalo seminar that you transcribe. But younger, less worldly readers - or ones in Estonia or someplace- might well need some help.

Again, congratulations.


Robert Nedelkoff

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Subject: 'Let it Blurt' Date: Sat, 22 Apr 2000 14:05:08 -0500 From: "Douglas E. Webber" <DWebber@CIL.KnowledgeONE.net To: "'JIMDERO@earthlink.net'" <JIMDERO@earthlink.net

Dear Jim,

From the moment I read in 'Perfect Sound Forever' (online zine) about this book, I knew I had to get it. Well, I bought it yesterday evening and finished it around midnight. What a great job you've done. As a teen in suburban Philadelphia in the early 70's, I knew radio sucked. Bangs showed me the way to great stuff like the Dolls, Ramones, Velvets, Voidoids, etc. It would really be a treat to have him around today.

This book is a remarkably balanced look at a true original. I am so happy Bangs' story was in your capable hands.

Best wishes,

Douglas Webber

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Subject: Let It Blurt Date: Sat, 22 Apr 2000 16:46:13 -0400 From: "Joe Hedio" <joehedio@prodigy.net Organization: Prodigy Internet To: <jimdero@earthlink.net

Dear Jim:

I just finished reading Let It Blurt today & I just want to say that I liked it a lot. I always feel that a hallmark of a good biography is that you learn about other people besides the subject & it was certainly true of your book in that I learned about the people around Lester professionally & personally. I also got the strong impression that his upbriging, especially his father's death & his family's reaction to it had a profound & determental effect on Lester. I liked reading his article on how to be a rock critic. To me, he ranks right up there w/H.L. Mencken and P.G. Wodehouse as writers that I enjoy reading their works. Admittedly, I really only got into Lester through Carborator Dung, but it was good & left me hungry for more. I like to see more of his writings to be available.

Again, you did a good job & have a Happy Easter to you & yours.


Joe Hedio

P.S.: I also liked your 1st book

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Subj: Blurt! Date: 4/24/00 8:54:39 PM Central Daylight Time From: kurage@adelphia.net (hernon) To: JimDeRo@aol.com

Just finished plowing through my copy of "Blurt!" and a tip of the bottle to you my man. A wonderful job deserving of more praise than I am capable of pouring out.

It hit home fairly hard my friend, especially the formative days at Creem and such. This writing about rock and roll gig can be a real bitch at times. I can also be one helluva hoot, but mostly it seems to bring about fits of depression - and I don't even do it professionally. I'm not so sure I would want to. My few forays into the world of "proper" rock journalism have been extraordinary downers. I guess the whole scene is one of profession not passion these days, and the writing fucking shows it. I mean, I love music man...I fucking love rock and roll and it has kept my motor running through some awful times in life (as well as some great ones too) but the "profession" you inhabit has become either dull and careerist or quite simply mawkish.

You, my friend (and I do realize that you don't know me from Adam, but I consider you a friend on principle alone) seem to understand all of this and I am not sure why I am draining this all on your driveway, but it eats away at me quite often nowadays.

I know that there are not a lot of folks who want what I may have to offer, people just don't seem that interested in open communications about music and culture anymore, and I am certain that many people would consider my work as amateurish ("too self-indulgent" one editor of an arty local weekly called some of my work - I told him "of course it is...isn't rock and roll itself? That's what I'm writing about damn it" - and he still offered me a gig) or maybe boring (that would hurt), but they don't understand - I HAVE TO DO IT. I HAVE to write about music, I am compelled, maybe even possessed, whatever you want to call it. I call it a curse (when I'm down about it all) or just flat out fun (when I love it). Maybe I do it on a very small scale, but that really doesn't matter in the long haul. Not to me at least. I feel I am part of something much bigger than my scribbles. What exactly that is I may never know. Reading Lester, and reading about Lester brings me to that place where I have to realize that this is a passion play - whether any of us like it or not. Lester had that passion, that fire, more than anyone else I've ever read. He represented the highs and lows of art charting the same highs and the same lows of life itself. It's a sack of lies and life is a hypocrites game, the heart you wear on your sleeve better be a phony one because it's gonna get bloodied daily. So here I am, gasping after nearly drowning myself in your fine tome. I am caught in a place where my instincts say keep on keepin' on and my mind keeps playing the old trick of fooling me into wanting to expand myself. Maybe even, gulp, turn pro. But the pro's probably wouldn't want me anyway, I try to be my own man and speak my own voice - whether that thing I call "style" would be other peoples "shit" I do not know. For now my web writings will continue and, hopefully, will honor the aethetic of personal art. Because ultimately art is personal, it's just that more than a few of us feel the need to blurt about it every now and then.

Thanks for the ear Jim, I appreciate you taking the time. These things are in my head constantly and the need to shake it up and pop the top comes along every now and again. You just happened to be the poor fellow standing next to me.

Kurt Hernon

p.s. your kind words about my Lester tribute in Perfect Sound Forver were unexpected and welcomed. I thank you again for giving a "little" guy a quick read. I won't stop, I can't stop, even if the bangSheet Online remains my only fortress...I'll buy you a beer sometime friend.

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Date: 4/25/00 8:25:57 PM Central Daylight Time From: Chineserocks77 To: JimDeRo Sent on: AOL 4.0 for Windows 95

hey i just finished reading let it blurt and i think its brilliant and captivating... i didn't think it could top my favorite book 'kelidoscope eyes' but it has... you did a great job digging up all this information about lester, im in shock, of how good it was. i was just reading the newest issue of 'entertainment weekly' (which you have probably read) and they say that the final chapters of your book are as riveting as Scorsese's Goodfellas, which i think is very true. so what i was wondering is if you would ever turn 'let it blurt' and if you did would you have Scorsese direct it... who do you think should play lester? i want to! sorry if this isn't a very professional letter, im only 18 and i get high all of the time and read your books, keuorac, lenny bruce and eric bogosian... please write me back and tell me what you think God ( i mean jim)

peace out chief, steve

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From: Alex Torralbas To: DeRogatis Jim Sent: Tuesday, April 25, 2000 10:02 AM Subject: Blurt - thanks from someone who knew him

I just read "Let it Blurt" and thank you for doing Lester's memory proud. I spent the summer of '77 in New York and looked him up in the phone book and rang him up. He was more than a great writer: he was my "hero", too. Over that summer he let me hang out with him at his apartment, took me boozing at the Bells of Hell, even had me come along with Christ Stein, Debbie Harry, and himself, riding out to Coney Island for the Punk Mutant Monster Beach party shoot in this big name photog's car (can't remember his name right now). It pissed down with rain and I hung out under the Boardwalk falling for Lauren Agnelli (who wouldn't remember me any more than the cold she had that summer). Afterwards we all went to Punk's offices and all I remember was pretty much everyone getting very fucked up, and then me and Legs McNeil and Holmstrom and a bunch of us going for Chinese food.

Lester and I traded letters for years, starting in about 73, when he was at Creem. I gave him some tapes of music I was writing and one song got swiped and wound up on the Birdland album (track 1 side 1). I only found this out way after his death and I didn't feel bad: it was such an honor (stupidly) that Lester would like something of mine enough to swipe it. His lyrics, 95% my music.

I read some more of your stuff on your site and really enjoyed it. The thing on the R&R Hall of Fame is perfect.

By the way, the line about choosing between depression or anxiety was an old Lester mantra. He told it to me the day I met him in July of 77.

I reread a bunch of my writings from the time and even before and can so much understand the corner he was in - roughly, if rock n roll is more than just some noise I listen to, and rock n roll is dead or dying, and even though I should know better that there's no way to stuff LIFE into this thing called rock n roll, then what the fuck do I do now?

You gotta be there to know how that feels. You did a damn fine job of allowing others, my wife, for instance, to understand why Lester meant so much to those of us who knew him, if only fleetingly.


Alex Torralbas (aka The Subliminal Kid)

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Subj: Let It Blurt! Date: 4/26/00 9:07:11 PM Central Daylight Time From: sugarspin@hotmail.com (KV- sugarspin) To: jimdero@aol.com

Hey Jim,

I don't know if you remember me, but I'm the female musician from Arkansas who asked you to sign a copy of your book at the Empty Bottle show. I finished reading it and thought I would let you know that I really enjoyed it. It was inspiring coming from the artist side of me, but yet once again confirmed the aggravations that I have with the social and business aspects of music. We could have debates about that all day, couldn't we?

I just want you to know that I started a list of CDs that I have to have after reading the book, too. I went to CDNOW.com and listened to Lester's first album and actually kind of liked it. The Jook Savage album was out of stock but that one really peaks my interest. Anyway, enjoyed the book!



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From: "Adam Blake" <adamblake77@hotmail.com> To: jimdero@earthlink.net Sent: April 27, 2000 11:55:42 PM GMT Subject: salutations from limeyland

Dear Jim deRogatis,

I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed "Let It Blurt". Having long given up reading music mags or papers I had no idea of its existence till I wandered in to my local book shop and there it was. I bought it immediately and devoured it within 48 hours. Thank you. You did it right. It must have been a very hard book to write. I never met Lester but I know people who did and I know his work and I think you did as good a job as anybody could have done. The fact that it exists means it will, inevitably, become easier for people like me to explain why their favourite American writer is someone with a ludicrous name that hardly anybody has heard of who wrote almost exclusively about rock 'n' roll.

I love the quotation from Oscar Wilde's "The Critic As Artist". Apposite, you might say. Wilde is another of my favourite writers and, funnily enough, someone with whom I feel Lester had a lot in common: both big and overbearing men, obsessive, formidable raconteurs, with a terrifying self-destructiveness that must have been heartbreaking for those who loved them. And yes, of course, the gift of being able to inspire others.

One thing: you attempt an overview of the birth (and death) of rock criticism. A laudable aim and I think you succeed but why did you not mention Nik Cohn's book "Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom" which was published under the title "Pop From The Beginning" in 1969. This may not have influenced Lester per se but it was, nonetheless, the first rock'n'roll book that attempted to put the music in perspective within its own terms. It still stands up today - or at least the parts of it that deal with 50s rock'n'roll do - I'm sure you've read it. Perhaps you felt an English book was irrelevent to what you were writing about but I'd be curious to know why you didn't make mention of it.

The appendices were wonderful. I'd not read them before and after such a sad ending it was a joy to hear Lester's voice in such fine fettle. The list of his work was so tantalising. It's tough to know there is so much of his work that I have not read. I collect what pieces I can find in old books, magazines and on the internet but there is still so much I can't get hold of. Do you think there is any chance that there will be another volume of his work? As time goes by, it becomes clearer and clearer that he really was the best writer rock'n'roll ever had. Isn't that justification enough? I thought you could have quoted a bit from Nick Kent's obituary ("Ballad of a Loudhearted Man") which was a beautiful bit of writing from perhaps Lester's most talented imitator. Never mind. I never liked Marcus's writing except when he wrote the foreword to Lester's book. Strange isn't it. I truly think that Lester had a sublime gift: in his own work and in his ability to inspire others. I think I'm beginning to repeat myself so I'll sign off now. Hope you don't mind me drivelling on.

Thank you again.

All the best.

Adam Blake

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X-Da-secret-hail-everybody: we [heart] Evan Davies <me@evandavies.com>, bigtime!!!!

by way of the Bomp list, so apologies to the couple of you who will see it twice.

okay...the Bangs' book, er, review...right, so all you bomplisters allow me to preface my words with a few more words...my editress says I can't bust 300 words, and this is tailored for print publication...which is not marketed to those "in the know"...as for the "readability"...I know how it looks and may be hard to read, "derivative", but its what I do, honest, its how I've always done it...that is when I can get scratch for a bit of scritch, you know, like "published"...I promise not to post such drivel unless requested (as Mr. Apollo did, thank you sir)...now then...

Let It Blurt: The Life & Times of Lester Bangs, America's Greatest Rock Critic

Honestly, y'all...how long we been needin' a biography on thee "gonzo" rock critic...WRITER, that is the late Lester Bangs? Welp, we got one now, called "Let It Blurt"...and, the way I figger, this is ONE which cain't, won't, be beat! Fer ONCE sumpthin' got done right...the first time!

Mister DeRogatis, thank you, you done did a damn fine job...if it was up to ME, I'd give you a raise! I'm serious! In terms of "good" writin' "Blurt" is well done, most folks who take license to write about "rock" often have their heads up their you-know-whats (read: ASSES), but this is heads 'n' shoulders above the other flakes. Straight away the pacing and dynamics were sharply defined and it kept clippin' along with no draggin', overwritten or sleepy-time underdetailed bits!

Now, in addition to smart writin', you rock 'n' rolla GEEKoids, sorry..."hobbyists", take note 'cause if you like "pictures", there's loads of exclusive illustrations, er...pictures, plus there's tons of contextual history, like stories of Bangs' incarceration at Campus de la Creem and all those involved..., even if this WON'T about Bangs, the fleshy, fatty details of the peripheral characters and events warrant a read (Jimmy I think there IS another book here)! But, above of all, I was struck by the thoughtful presentation of the relationship Bangs' had to his scritchin'...that is, this book testifies that Bangs' writin' is an explicit expression of HIS personality through a desperate, deliberate reach for an articulation of feeling! Duh. And, Jimmy, many more thanks fer NOT imposin' no writer's "editorial" hogwash on Lester's less than stable life. Yeah, Lester was a wee bit fucked in the noodle..., but YOU, dear readers, will haveta read the book yerselves to find out WHY. M'kay?

Now then, go get it!!!

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From: "Andy Fuertsch" <andropolis@prodigy.net To: jimdero@earthlink.net Sent: May 2, 2000 1:53:20 AM GMT Subject: Great work

Dear Jim,

I got through your book "Let it Blurt" this weekend and I must say it is excellent. I got to know Lester better through your book. So good in fact I'm going to have to read it again.

The stories came out at me and I could picture all those scenes happening in Detroit and New York. I knew something about the times that he lived in New York but you set it all straight and gave Lester a great soul that probably few people thought he had. Lester was a true infamous character and in parts of the book it made me laugh out loud.

The Lester I knew when we all collaborated with him and the music in the Delinquents. He was only down in Austin for a short time and the chapter on that episode brought back memories and it rings fast and true. His life went by too quick.

Great work,

---Andy Fuertsch

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From: "Jeanne Bredestege" <timejeanneb@earthlink.net To: jimdero@earthlink.net Sent: May 2, 2000 5:24:52 AM GMT Subject: FW: Tim Ellison, Let It Blurt reader

Dear Jim,

Thank you so much for your Lester Bangs book. Lester means so much to me and your book is beautifully done and an enormous achievement. I was excited when I first read (in a Robot Hull interview from about a year and a half ago) that it was forthcoming, but must admit that I had some reservations about it when I got wind of it coming out recently. I was worried about the possibilities of it dwelling on sordidness. I am so happy that the picture of Lester's life documented in your extraordinary book has such an emphasis on Lester's tough, critical inner dialogue, his insights on truth, and his desire for growth. I am a believer in the accuracy of this portrayal, particularly in light of the dismissive tone of Meltzer and Tosches' writing about Lester. That your book can ring true over both Meltzer and Tosches on one hand (I'm referring particularly to Meltzer's 'Recollected in Tranquility' and the Meltzer/Tosches dialogue in Throat Culture), and Christgau and Marcus on the other is a real triumph for Lester. And for you.

Two points on your Afterword. Who are the rock critics that are imitative of Lester but aren't any good that you refer to? If you're referring to Chuck Eddy/Frank Kogan/et al, I'd agree that their ironicist style has little to do with Lester's aesthetic interests. If, however, you are referring (as I am afraid you might be) to punk writers from the later eighties and nineties who have made some impacts (Byron Coley, Chris Stigliano, Jay Hinman, etc.), I'd say you were being frighteningly dismissive and I would wonder why.

My second point on the Afterword is that I think Lester would blanch at the idea of extending his "La Bamba" through "Blitzkrieg Bop" lineage to Nirvana! The crucial component for Lester was "gets more primitive each time," which I would argue does not occur in the transference from The Ramones to Nirvana. The transition from The Ramones to, say, The Gories (one example--early '90's Detroit band with three LPs) is an actual progression along these lines!

Regards, Tim Ellison

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Date: 5/4/00 10:51:51 PM Central Daylight Time From: jon@webley.com (Jon Wotman) To: JimDeRo@aol.com

hey jim:

made my way through LET IT BLURT, and was suitably impressed. everyone's a critic, and i'm sure people wanted different things from the book. personally, i would have liked 20 pages on the composition of "Peter Laughner," but you chose not to get too graphic about the construction of any of Lester's articles. prolly a good choice, since most of the time such biographical efforts are an exercise in hero construction, and have nothing to do with the lonely process of assembling words that people might read. the worst part of the book is your immaculate and very thorough bibliography... it highlights exactly how much we're all missing.

thanks, jw

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From: "craig ablah" <hcraig@feist.com To: jimdero@earthlink.net Sent: May 5, 2000 6:15:49 PM GMT Subject: let it blurt


Just wanted to drop you a short note to let you know how much I liked Let it Blurt.

It must have been fascinating research for you. What's so cool about Lester is how he made the transition so seamless between the hippie 60s and punk 70s - and was true to himself throughout ( I can't think of any other figure that was so prominent in both movements). That last appendix you included was very revealing and tied up the book nicely.

The timing was perfect - I've been buying those old bound volumes of Rolling Stone on ebay recently, so I'd been reading much of his early work. You really put his writing in perspective for me. Thanks for a great book - I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Best Regards,

Craig Ablah Wichita KS

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Subj: Re: Lester Bangs Date: 5/5/00 3:22:28 AM Central Daylight Time From: discojen@hotmail.com (Jenny Kiely) To: JimDeRo@aol.com

Hi Jim

I wrote to you last year regarding your book about Lester Bangs - you probably don't remember, as it was ages ago! Well, it's finally out here in England, and I bought it for my boyfriend Jim, as promised. All I can tell you is that he can't put the book down - I'll be chatting away to him about stuff, and he's like, 'Hmm??'- no response. I can only assume it is a great book from this! I can't wait until he finishes it, and then we can have a conversation, then I can read it!!

Seriously, I'm so pleased for you that the book finally came out. We need to know about people like Lester Bangs. Have you seen any of the press stuff in the English papers? We kept a piece from The Observer, so let me know if you want a copy of it.

Anyway, thanks.

Jen xxx

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Subj: Lester Date: 5/6/00 2:30:03 PM Central Daylight Time From: mathitak@sirius.com (Mark Athitakis) To: jimdero@aol.com

I just finished "Let it Blurt" -- really, about five minutes ago -- and I just wanted to shoot a message to say how much I enjoyed it. I recall your contention about the use of the word "hagiography" in the interview we did a couple of years back. It certainly isn't that -- it reads like the honest assessment the man deserved, and frankly makes a lot of the choices in Carburetor Dung seem skewed. It was a pleasure to read, and I'm glad somebody did it.

I notice only one small nit to pick, or at least question: I wonder if Nancy Alexander's grandmother's real name is "Yi-Ya," as the passage on her sugget. Because I come from a Greek family, I always referred to my grandmothers as "Yia-Yia" -- it's a term of affection, but not their real names, Phaedra and Maria. I know, a screamingly minor point.



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From: gretschbikini58

To: jimdero@earthlink.net

Sent: May 6, 2000 2:23:45 AM GMT

Subject: buffalo gals


Sucker that I am I spent the last of my welfare cheque on Lester Bangs. I wound up carrying him home from the bookstore where I found him lying on a shelf.... He's been great company.

The book's fantastic. I'm too young and I live on the wrong side of the Atlantic to have come across Lester whilst still alive but after reading "Psychotic Reactions" I appreciated him for his consistency of vision (unlike the Lou Reeds and the Iggy Pops of this world).

Is the US book cover different to the UK?

Thanks for writing the book and good luck


PS About 8 years ago my old group recorded a version of Roky Erickson's "You're Gonna Miss Me" we were called Carburetor Dung.

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Hi Jim

Like many people (I'm guessing) who've read your book, I, too, had a personal relationship with Lester that found a tender revival in its pages...Lester, in a way, was like a father figure to me. I grew up in the "Creem" house, both in Birmingham and on the farm in Walled Lake, and there were many times when Lester took me under his wing and corrupted me, no doubt in his own mind in proper peripatetic fashion, with the knowledge and experience befitting a nine year-old kid who just happend to love Lou Reed as much as his Romilar driven Aristotle...My reward? My rite of passage? My proverbial "15" minutes outside of the many sundry C.C. Rider supermarket escapades with Lester -- ('Here Josh, take this bologna, here's some bread, get me that mustard over there, open up those cookies, fun eh?', etc., etc.) -- well, he published me in CREEM at the ripe-old-age of 10, in a review of "Rock-N-Roll Animal" no less, which then gave vent to the closing five minutes of those fifteen when Lou Reed himself responded to Lester's gesture by asking him where the 'little asshole was' who reviewed his album. Ah, well, Jim, thanks for helping to rekindle those memories, and more importantly, for providing and preserving a clear portrait of Lester beyond myth or romance...

Thanks, again.

Josh Bassett 

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From: Galli Stefano 
To: jimderogatis 
Sent: Wednesday, May 17, 2000 3:43 PM

Hello Jim,

I am an Italian reader who is going through your brilliant Lester Bangs book.

Is there any chance that you will put together a follow up to the LB collected works of Psychotic Reaction?

Take care.
Stefano Galli

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From: "fxxm" <fxxm@aspma.com>
To: <jimdero@earthlink.net>
Sent: Tuesday, May 16, 2000 11:43 AM
Subject: let it blurt

> Greetings, Mr. DeRogatis:

> I devoured your Lester Bangs book in two sittings, near-record time for
> someone who moves his lips when he reads. I'm writing to congratulate
> you on an exceptional job. What a totally satisfying book, right down to
> all the extra junk at the end.

> Thanks for doing such great work.

> --Phil Milstein
> curator, American Song-Poem Music Archives

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Subj: Re: Hey Bob
Date: 5/15/00 9:57:38 PM Central Daylight Time
From: rfarace@uconect.net (Robert A. Farace, Jr.)
Reply-to: rfarace@uconect.net
To: JimDeRo@aol.com

Well, I waited until I finished it to respond. It's a wonderful book.
Just like how Lester liked to demythologize icons, you've neatly
deflated much of the Bangs myth and legend without detracting at all
from his talent. In the end we're left with what I'd hoped to find: a
man, a normal human being albeit with addictions that many of us aren't saddled with. You remained quite objective although with obvious affection for your subject, and it's nice that you weren't afraid to disagree with your interviewees when you felt you had to. It was also
nice to see just how well read Lester was, giving a glimpse of the
intelligence that went into his writing.

Of course, it was obvious from his writing, but I was still impressed
by the depth of his passion for music and how he translated it to paper.
Which must have made his disappointment in the direction of music and criticism even worse--I see and feel it myself; I've recognized there
are those of us that *listen* to music and it infuses our souls, and
those for whom it's just aural wallpaper, and those people that aren't
paying attention don't notice when it seems like the spirit has gone out of rock. Usually when I'm feeling that rock has finally died, some group comes along that kicks me in the ass and proves I'm wrong, and it gets fun again. I'm waiting for something like that now.
Sometimes Lester is used as a yardstick; I'm sure I'm not the only
one that hopes that the recordings and bands I've been/am a part of
would be something he'd like. No doubt he'd have rightfully shot some of it down . . .

I got a kick out of your description of the Rock and Roll Hall of
Fame as a ludicrous pyramid. Should you find yourself talking to Moe
Tucker, ask *her* what she thinks of it. She's got some choice words and some good stories.

Anyway, I'm mercilessly rambling. Thanks again for a great book. I do
prefer my heroes to be real people, too.

--Bob Farace

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Subj: Let It Blurt.
Date: 5/15/00 10:38:57 PM Central Daylight Time
From: Jimnoelisa@cs.com
To: JimDeRo
Sent on: CompuServe 2000 32-bit

Hi Jim -I just finished reading Let It Blurt-a weirdly fascinating look at a truly great writer .Look at how clearly Lester and other writers saw what was coming-People magazine etc.It's a stretch to see him operating today.Not that we could'nt use a good ass-whipping.Great book!!!.

One more thing-I heard you mention on sound opinions something about the Univ. of Chicago Press Archives containing vintage rock criticism-is this true?

Would love to hear more about this-I'm a collector of the printed word as it pertains to pop music.Anyway-great book,and a great job at the Suntimes.Cool radio show too.


Jim Weihsmantel.

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Dear Jim:

I just finished reading Let It Blurt today &  I just want to say that I liked it a lot. I always feel that a hallmark of a good biography is that you learn about other people besides the subject & it was
certainly true of your book in that I learned about the people around Lester professionally & personally. I also got the strong impression that his upbriging, especially his father's death & his family's reaction to it had a profound & determental effect on Lester. I liked reading his article on how to be a rock critic. To me, he ranks right up there w/H.L. Mencken and P.G. Wodehouse as writers that I enjoy reading their works. Admittedly, I really only got into Lester through Carborator Dung, but it was good & left me hungry for more. I like to see more of his writings to be available. Again, you did a good job & have a Happy Easter to you & yours.


 Joe Hedio

P.S.: I also liked your 1st book


Thanx for 'Let It Blurt'


Sat, 03 Jun 2000 22:51:15 +1000


radiocitizen <dcitizen@austasia.net>


Jim DeRogatis <jimdero@earthlink.net>




Hello Mr. DeRogatis

I am writing to praise your recent book about Lester Bangs. I bought it

yesterday and have almost finished it - so far I have thoroughly enjoyed


Lester was responsible for introducing me to a lot of the music that I still

love to this day. I first read him in the pages of Creem in 1974 when I was

a clueless 13-year-old growing up near Melbourne, Australia. Even though at

that time I knew next to nothing about most of the musicians he championed -

and nothing about Lester himself - I was immediately attracted to the

obvious sincerity, humour and passion evident in his writing. As a result I

bought many of the albums he recommended and was almost never disappointed

in what I heard as a result ('Horses', Brian Eno, Pharoah Sanders, Miles

Davis, and The Velvet Underground, amongst others).

It got to the point where I could tell what he would think of a particular

record before I even read his review of it - and I almost always agreed with

him. I remember buying Lou Reed's 'The Bells' and immediately falling in

love with it and trying to convince my friends of what a great piece of work

it is - but they all rubbished it mercilessly. The only contrary opinion I

found - and the only one that ended up counting to me - was Lester's

beautiful review in Rolling Stone. What he wrote about 'The Bells' almost

made me cry.

Even though I never knew him personally, it was one of the saddest days in

my life when I heard he was dead. Thankyou for writing a great biography of

a great, great writer and music-lover. More power to you.


Dario Cittadini


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Subj: Bangs book and such

Date: 6/5/00 5:55:00 PM Central Daylight Time

From: RandyF2930

To: JimDeRo

Sent on: AOL 5.0 for Windows


I wanted to thank you for your work on the Lester Bangs bio. I was looking forward to its release and was in no way disappointed after reading it. I honestly had trouble putting it down. As a 36 year old, who began working in record stores at the age of 15, well, I grew up reading Lester in Creem and his other various outlets. His essay on Astral Weeks from Stranded was and is simply one of the greatest things I've ever read. It's funny, I probably started buying Creem when I was about 10 years old, and Lester's style and passion hit me right from the git-go. Also, noticed on the jacket that you've written for World of Wrestling. It's damn hard to find music writers who appreciate decent pro wrestling. Anyhow, you did a wonderful job on the book. Buy the way, do you know what Robert Quine is doing these days?

Take care,

randy fox


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Date: 6/5/00 1:27:31 PM Central Daylight Time

From: dleifer@kramerlevin.com

To: JIMDERO@aol.com




Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. As I mentioned, I wrote the letter

the day I saw the article on the RS online edition, but it took me a while to

track down an e-mail address for you. In addition to Rolling Stone (who will

definitely NOT publish it), I also sent copies of the letter to Chuck Eddy,

Carol Cooper, Ann Powers, Eric Weisbard, Doug Simmons, Vince Aletti, Addicted to

Noise and E-Pulse. Eddy is the only one who bothered to answer me (other than


>> Nicely done. Though really, it sort of gives AD what he wants: He hasn't had

this many people read (and certainly not think) about any of his uninspired

hack prose for years, if ever. And of course there was a blatant conflict for

him, as an unrepentant never-tiring Jann Wenner suck-up (his screed told me

what Wenner thinks of the book, if nothing else). <<

After reading "Let It Blurt" (actually I'm about halfway through it and am

really enjoying it) I can certainly understand why Jann Wenner wanted to take a

swipe at you and Lester. The book paints a rather unflattering portrait of him,

but one which has been confirmed by numerous other sources. I LOVED the story

of Buddy Miles storming the RS offices and Wenner escaping out the fire escape!

Classic! He reminds me of Lorne Michaels, another child of the 60's who started

out in the counterculture and quickly sold out as soon as the opportunity

presented itself. Of course, I've never heard any stories about Lorne being a

chickenhawk! HAH!

It seems from your book that any talented, principled writers didn't last long

at RS, where Wenner's obvious goal was to please his advertisers and the

industry powers that be and to rock the boat as little as possible. What a

dick! And DeCurtis's outburst was so out of proportion to the tone of your book

and so out of step with the general critical opinion of Lester's writing that it

seems obvious that it was an attempted assassination based on an old grudge.

The fact that they only published it online is further proof of their cowardice.

You and I have a similar background. I grduated from high school a year before

you and also grew up in the suburbs of NYC - Westchester Co. While a senior in

high school I also did a music-related independent study project - I worked as

an intern for Stiff Records in NY. I even got to meet Lee Perry, the

Stranglers, John Tiven and The Feelies, and got to see The Plasmatics chainsaw a

TV in half on the old Tom Snyder show. Those were the days! Lester was also

one of my heroes, and your book does his legacy proud. Thanks. I even turned

up my copy of that old issue of Throat Culture up in my mom's attic!

Thanks again for getting back to me and for the wonderful celebration of Lester.


David Leifer


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Subj: Re: wnur documentary

From: l-trudeau@nwu.edu (Lisa Trudeau)

To: JimDeRo@aol.com

At 11:05 AM 5/10/00 -0400, you wrote:


Actually, I'm a big fan of Bangs, too, and if I wasn't the poor college

student that I am I would have bought your book already. (Not that I'm

trying to kiss ass or anything) I have Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor

Dung and his reviews are better than anything being written in music

journalism today (no offense). I love his writing for the same reason I

love Hunter Thompson's -- they write about what's *really* there. Just

like anyone at the Kentucky Derby really goes to get loaded, people listen

to rock not because of the technical prowess of the musicians, but because

of what it does to them when they listen to it. Bangs understood that.

Most critics are just people with opinions who get published, but Lester

Bangs was a rock star himself and his writing was just as important as the

music it was about. And not that you don't obviously know all of this

already, but that's why I love Bangs. I definitely see how Kerouac was a

huge influence on his writing -- I think Bangs has some of the same rhythm

as JK. There's also a sense of the whole first-thought-best-thought thing.

It's all one big expunging of thought without any sort of pretention

whatsoever. As a "budding" music journalist myself, I really respectthat

and try to do that in my own writing. I've learned more from people like

Kerouac, Bangs and Thompson than my clueless newswriting professors in

Medill. It's all about form and streamlining your writing so much that

it's exactly like everyone else's and that's not what I want to do. But

I'm preaching to the choir ...


"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live,mad

to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones

who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like

fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars ..."

--Jack Kerouac

Lisa Trudeau

Northwestern University, Medill School of Journalism '02


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Let It Blurt!!


Wed, 7 Jun 2000 09:32:26 EDT







Just wanted to say I loved your book on Lester -- I was moved and impressed

-- your research, placing him and the era in context, the descriptions of him

and his relationships with colleagues, loved ones were great -- it was one of

those books I ran right thru -- the sense of the loss of him -- the sense of

his contributions -- Thank you!! I'll look forward to anything else you

write on the topic of rock writers and I already have your book on

psychedelic music yet to read!!


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Subj: loved the book

Date: 6/8/00 3:56:32 PM Central Daylight Time

From: jmcgaw@ids.net (Jim McGaw)

Reply-to: jmcgaw@ids.net

To: jimdero@aol.com


Hi Jim,

Just wanted to drop a line and let you know how much I loved your book

on Lester Bangs. Man, we need him now more than ever.

I know you were critical of some of the selections made by Greil Marcus

in the Bangs' anthology. This begs the obvious question: Why don't you

edit a sequel? I'm the same age as you, but I become hip to Lester only

a few years ago. Thus, most of the stuff I've read by him is in

"Psychotic Reactions." I need more! Is there any Web site that has more

of his writing? I don't think I'll be shelling out $30 for back issues

of Creem.

Again, wonderful job. Your book inspired me to buy some Iggy and another

copy of "Trout Mask Replica." I say "another" because I traded my first

copy in a couple years ago. Damn thing gave me a migraine. I have new

ears now so I'm sure it will sound different this time (either that or

I'll enjoy the migraine.

From one wanna-be critic to the real thing,

Jim McGaw

Portsmouth, RI



Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2000 01:45:33 EST
From: "Matt Bell"
To: jimdero@earthlink.net

Yeah, I know, pretty late. I tried to go to sleep around midnight but I
couldn't sleep, ideas keep coming out, very distracting. Is that strange,
that I do my best thinking when I'm trying to sleep?

Anyway, hi how are ya loved the Lester book. I'm seventeen and I recently discovered that I'm going to be a rock critic. I know this because 1) My two biggest passions are writing and music, 2) I'm opinionated and like to tell people these opinions, regardless of their polite pleas for me to stop, and 3) I look like a rock critic. It's true. People tell me this.

So with this accessible Internet thing and you, a rock critic who writes
about tearing down the wall between critic and reader (like Lester), I
figured i should find out just what a critic does. Seems stupid not to ask. So, What does a critic do? What goes on in a typical day for you? What should I do to become one? How did you go from record-buying kid to bigshot rock critic for a major newspaper?

I know some of those questions sounded like career-oriented bullshit but that's the way the world is, I've heard. I would greatly appreciate if you could answer these questions. Christ, I have to wake up at 8.

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From: "John Stewart"
To: jimdero@earthlink.net
Sent: July 16, 2000 10:02:15 AM GMT
Subject: Let It Blurt

Hi Jim.

I am e-mailing you from Belfast where I have been spending the last few days dodging the violence and roadblocks here at present by sitting in and reading "Let It Blurt". I just wanted to tell you that it is a wonderful book. I knew nothing about Lester Bangs and the book was actually given to me as a leaving present from my last job. The guy who bought it for me is a Lester fan and he thought I would be interested in his connections with the wonderful Lou Reed, the Beats and The Rolling Stones, all of whom I admire tremendously.

I am not normally moved to contact authors (most of my favourite writers are dead anyway) but I just wanted to let you know how entertaining and informative "Let it Blurt" is. It seems that the world is a lesser (and quieter) place without Lester. Thanks for the best read I have had in a LONG time.

John Stewart

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Subj: music and junk
Date: 7/18/00 11:12:04 AM Central Daylight Time
From: Artknarf
To: JimDeRo
Sent on: AOL 5.0 for Windows sub 105

Hello Jim! As a long time fan of your writing and wit I was very happy yesterday to come upon your web site and the launch site. See I moved from Chicago two years ago. Now I live in a small bucolic town in Michigan. It is great being here because I am an artist, a painter that likes to paint out in a field or in a woods that sort of thing. However, this area is far from being a culture overload.

Reading your launch RFL archives is bringing me up to date on music. It also reminded me of way back when. I used to listen to you when you did the S.O. show w/Wyman! That was a great show! I used to write and call in often. IM glad to see you are on again, as my God a city the size of Chicago should have at least one good program. Radio is terrible, not only does one hear the same playlist everywhere in the country, but even the same voice for the promo's and station I. D tag's. It is really sick. Another thing, why in the world do classic rock, and oldies always play the same songs! I mean I am sure that the people that listen to these things would not mind hearing something different. I would like to hear a variety you know? Like there is a whole history of rock and roll that people could enjoy, not just the same twelve artists. And if they must (the oldies stations) play the same artists, they could still change it up and play something that wasn't a hit single! I think it comes down to a greed that underestimates the audience. I have always felt that you speak in your writing like the reader is your friend or at least as smart as you are.

You can imagine my pleasure then upon finding all this writing and paraphernalia of your on the web! That's one great thing about this net world, it is so much easier to find info about the stuff one likes. After spending a year and a half looking for the apples first album, I found it in like ten seconds after getting on line!
I remember when I was around fifteen (I am about two years younger than you I think) and going to the local used record store and spending hours bent over in a hot crowded space to carefully look through old copies of creem and sometimes rolling stone,although,even then I knew that pretty much sucked. I looked for anything on the velvets and Lou reed or Syd Barrett. Eventually from reading these things I started to find and enjoy the writing of Lester Bangs. Hell I started picking up back issues for the sole reason that they had a Lester Bangs article,regardles of whom he was writing about! That's one of the things that you are like Lester for me,

It doesn't matter what the piece is about, it is always entertaining. You both hipped me to a lot of great music. You both write with a lot of heart. And you write like the fans are your friends, you don't praise everything under the sun, even if it work from an artist you like. That last point is very helpful because, as a person whom has a budget, with only so much going to music, I want to get the good stuff. I remember an old S.O. show you did with Bill Wyman. Robin Hitchcock was on, it was a great show and I love Robins work. The thing was, you said what are some of the key albums for fans to pick up, and Bill listed about thirteen things! You said,"oh great you just spent a hundred dollars of the fans money!" As you might have guessed by now,

I was very happy to see that your book on Lester is out. I ordered it from amazon (how do they stay in biz,they have a huge debt, and their stock is droping)last night, and can't wait to start reading. By the way I think that its great that you had the book at the bar party with the money going to Cabrini Green tutoring Program, I did a little bit of volunteer work with Nike (I know Nike!but..,)and some kids from Cabrini and found it incredible. I really

Enjoyed reading the interview you did with Lester, thanks for putting it on-line. The photos were great, they help convey the experience so well. The amazing thing is how well that it still reads as an interview. Of course there is considerable archive and sentimental value. I really enjoyed how Lester was asking for your opinion on stuff. Thanks for sharing what must have been a great and important experience. And whom better to have that experience than the" worlds second greatest rock critic",or "the only critic that matters!" or "my favorite rock writer." Thanks for continuing, your work is much appreciated

Frank Taylor

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Subj: For Third Eye Blind, "Let it Blurt," and most important, keeping it real!
Date: 7/17/00 2:52:20 PM Central Daylight Time
From: brew_haus@yahoo.com (Andrew)
Reply-to: brew_haus@yahoo.com
To: jimdero@aol.com

First off, I'd like to thank you for an excellent book that's greatly influenced my music and life. A book that everyone should read.

Second, we at messages.punkrock.net salute you for your wonderful Third Eye Blind interview! THANK YOU!

There is hope, and his name is Jim DeRogatis! ; )


Andrew Hollis
The University of Miami School of Music - Music Engineering

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Subj: it's all YOUR fault
Date: 7/17/00 1:04:51 AM Central Daylight Time
From: Sb taylor
To: JimDeRo
Sent on: AOL 5.0 for Windows sub 110


i've missed a deadline, and i wanted you to know that it's all YOUR fault!

to refresh your memory, i am a freelance reviewer for launch and other outlets who's exchanged a few emails with you in the past few weeks.

i've been working on a review of john lennon's "gimme some truth - the making of john lennon's 'imagine' album" DVD for The All Music Guides, and was sailing smoothly until your frigging book hit my mailbox. i can't put the bastard thing down!

despite some of the criticism i've read about it, i think you did a great job of balancing his self-destructive vs. constructive (i.e. his prodigious output), and his personally abrasive and endearing sides.

kudos and continued success.

but please, no more books 'til i catch up on my assignments.


scott taylor

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Subject: A plug for you
Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2000 20:10:13 -0700
From: "Martens, Todd"
To: "'jimdero@earthlink.net'"


I wanted to point you to the following link:


Just click on your name.

Go easy on me, and feel free to tell me I'm full of crap -- I'm still a
pretty young writer. That's been my excuse for a couple years, though, so I suppose I'm going to have to start coming up with something different. I'm a Chicago-native, and a budding music writer, and try to read your columns on-line, but, alas, miss some. I'm dying to get back to my home city, but until I find a job back home, I have my dad tape "Sound Opinions" for me and ship them out here a month late. I'm actually two and a half months behind right now, but I never got around to thanking you and Greg for introducing me to Loraxx last winter. I never would have heard about them out here in L.A., and I still keep spinning that record.

Hope the reading goes well, and hope to have a chance to meet you there.

Take care,

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Subj: Let it Blurt
Date: 6/26/00 2:00:07 PM Central Daylight Time
From: Jim_Mueller@immc.org
To: jimdero@aol.com

Jim Mueller@IMMC
06/26/2000 01:37 PM

Greetings Gate!

You're getting an interesting plug for Let it Blurt on the findagrave.com web page. Put it this way, I wasn't aware you'd written about Lester Bangs until I pulled up his name under their new listings.

So you have one sale through findagrave...and who knows how many more?

As a high school lad in Concord, California (circa 1971-74), I'd drop by Banana Records or The Wherehouse and buy Creem and cackle over Mr. Bangs, who, if I'm not mistaken, also coined the term "fuckstick," as in, "He's a worthless little fuckstick."

So do you remember the name of the Creem mascot? Wasn't it something like "Mr. Dream Whip"

I've ordered the book. I'm sure I'll enjoy re-visiting your old friend Bangs.

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Subj: Just thot I'd give it a shot!
Date: 6/23/00 6:38:18 PM Central Daylight Time
From: nrwidow@mpinet.net (Patricia Ragan Hoehner)
Reply-to: nrwidow@mpinet.net (Patricia Ragan Hoehner)
To: JimDeRo@aol.com

Dear Jim:

Hopefully you still have this address up and working. You don't remember me, because you never met me. So don't plex, bro. I just
wanted to tell you I loved your faithful, reverent bio of LB.I'd been a fan of his since the Phonograph Record Magazine days: my first rock magazine. I was so 'in love' with Detroit rock then. Sigh. Misspent youth and all that.

I worked (?) at Punk Mag back in the day, and while I adored Lester as a writer, I can't say he did a lot for me as a person: he did cause us untold misery with his 'White Noise Supremacists'. I'm embarrassed, in a way, to tell you that I'm one of those broads who called black guys 'boons' and offended him so.

BTW: in your 'about the author' blurb on the back, I enjoyed reading about your daughter. I have a son who is 11 now and he HATES rock and roll. out of principal, I believe. I introduced him to a number of Mommy's 'rock star friends' (well, a couple of em made it: Glenn Danzig, Dave Wyndorf and Danny Rey). He could care less. he like s Weird Al more,

I gotta go watch wrestling now.

Much love,
Denmom Punk Mag 1977 thru the bitter bitter end.

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From: RSmithFW@aol.com
To: jimdero@earthlink.net
Sent: June 19, 2000 1:15:51 PM GMT
Subject: Creem Resources?

Hi, Mr. DeRogatis. I just finished reading Let it Blurt, and I want to
thank you for doing such justice to Bangs' story. I've been a fan of his writing ever since I picked up Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung in 1988 (I admit I was a late-comer -- I was born a year after the first MC5 review).

I especially wanted to thank you for revealing the identity of the author of the "From the Cloud of Lester Bangs" notes that bookended Psychotic Reactions -- I've always been curious about that.

I do have a question for you. Are there any easily accessible resources
(online or otherwise) where I can find copies of Bangs' old Creem reviews and features? There was, at one time, a fan who had posted a few of them on the Web, but his old URL is dead.

Thanks again for the book.

Robert J. Smith
Cleona, PA

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Subj: Hope you don't mind me asking
Date: 6/18/00 7:44:21 PM Central Daylight Time
From: ZiggyExile
To: JimDeRo
Sent on: AOL 4.0 for Mac - Post-GM sub 146

I loved Let It Blurt.

Will there ever be a complete Bangs anthology? (I'm sure you're asked all the time.)

Thanks so much,

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Subj: Let It Blurt rocks!
Date: 6/19/00 8:09:06 AM Central Daylight Time
From: HaiKutsut
To: JimDeRo
Sent on: AOL 4.0 for Mac - Post-GM sub 146

Hi Jim,

This is Mike Mettler, Editor-In-Chief of CAR STEREO REVIEW'S MOBILE ENTERTAINMENT and husband of Krista Mettler, whom you listed in the Acknowledgements section of Let It Blurt. Just wanted to drop you a quick line to say that I just finished reading Blurt, and loved every minute of it. It was my "after midnight" reading for about a month, the last thing I'd read each night before turning in. I've had a Lester quote up on my wall at the office here for over 10 years: "Music is about feeling, passion, love, anger, joy, fear, hope, lust, emotion delivered at its most powerful and direct in whatever form." I try to keep that in mind every day as I wade through the never-ending stacks of dross that pile up on my desk, ever in search of that elusive CD that gets my juices flowing.

At any rate, if you plan to update the book for future editions, you may want to ring up Steve Simels, who was Lester's assigning editor at Stereo Review. Steve mostly does freelance stuff these days, including video & DVD reviews for my sister publication, Stereo Review's Sound & Vision.

Thanks again for a great read.


Mike Mettler

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From: "Doug Cawker"
To: jimdero@earthlink.net
Sent: June 17, 2000 3:04:39 AM GMT
Subject: rock n' roll!

Hi Jim!

My name's Doug Cawker (Dooger when I wrote record reviews for Flipside for over 5 long years), and I wanted to drop a quick note and let you know that Lester would have been proud.. your book was an excellent read! It was my salvation while I was in L.A. over the past month and a half shopping a feature film adaption of the renowned documentary, HEAVY METAL PARKING LOT.

I used to read Creem as a kid growing up in Edmonton, Canada and could hardly wait to read Lester's hilarious ramblings about the pomposity of rock in the 70's.. Hell, he introduced me to the Stooges, NY Dolls, and a host of other bands that influenced my life decisions many decades later.. By the way, I saw the Wire cover band doing Pink Flag at the RPM club in Toronto many moons ago and the band was great, as well..

Anyhow, that's about it... keep up the great work!

Bye for now,

P.S. I made a shoestring punk film called, BORN TO LOSE a few years ago and
have a web site for it at: www.borntolose.com if you're at all interested.
P.P.S. I'm sure you're aware of Cameron Crowe's film about Lester coming
up.. it should be interesting.. he deserves it!!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

From: Joe Bonomo
To: jimdero@earthlink.net
Sent: June 17, 2000 8:48:47 PM GMT
Subject: "Let it Blurt"

Dear Jim DeRogatis:

I am writing to tell you how much I am enjoying "Let it Blurt." While
Bangs has always been one of my favorite writers (Marcus' collection
did it for me in college) your biography has brought him and the
seventies rock & roll scene/atmosphere to spirited life. Your research
and dedication to your purpose are very impressive, and I love that you
brought to the page the breadth of a story that might have been

I also want to mention that this summer I am starting work on a book
about The Fleshtones called "Pocketful of Change." It is a
band-authorized bio documenting the group's place in the NY rock & roll scene of the late 70s/early 80s (Queens, Maxwells, CBGB, Marty Thau and Red Star, Tropicana Hotel, I.R.S. Records, etc.) and bringing it all up to date. As you know, the band is still going strong despite "missing" their golden opportunity for hits and fame in the mid-80s, putting on legendary shows around the world and releasing records with unprecedented regularity. I have long thought that they are a criminally underappreciated and wrongly-pigeonholed band (they aren't just a "party band" or they would've imploded or gotten bored years ago) whose story of work ethic and longevity should be told, especially considering their ties with Television, Suicide, Thau, The Cramps, Maxwells, Andy Warhol, R.E.M., etc., etc..

I'm staying in NYC for a couple of weeks to start interviews and
research, and I wonder if you have any anecdotes, memories, or material that you think might be relevant for my book. Short of that, any advice or suggestions that you can give me (regarding the band in
context of history, etc.) would be greatly appreciated, as I am a
regular admirer of your writing and beat-knowledge.

Thanks a lot for your time. I hope to hear from you.

Joe Bonomo
DeKalb IL

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From: PRK888@aol.com
To: jimdero@earthlink.net
Sent: June 17, 2000 4:47:43 AM GMT
Subject: Dear Jim:

Dear Jim:

Hi, my name is Phil. I recently finished reading your new book, Let It
Blurt, and think that it is just terrific. In my opinion, your new work is really an excellent opus.

I think your book captures the sensitive soul that Lester was, and your own prose shows compassion and empathy for this intellectually and emotionally complicated person known as Lester Bangs.

I have been a fan of Lester's since Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung was edited and released by Greil Marcus in 1988, and have been wondering when more literature about Lester would be released. Other than a brief appearance of the aforementioned Marcus book in Cameron Crowe's Singles film in 1992 (didja notice the woman reading it in the Seattle coffee bar? having read about Lester's and Cameron's relationship in your book, I think I understand Crowe's choice), it is welcome to see another volume published about Lester at last.

Two questions:

1. You were fortunate enough to have met Lester several months before he died. What was he like as a person? How did he interact with you? Did he seem as bright, funny and warm in person as he did (at times) in his writing?

2. Now that your 3 year / 18 year Lester project is done, what are your
plans for your next book?

I look forward to hearing from you soon,

Phil Klausner, of 1/2 a mile south of 6th Avenue from where your cover shot
of Lester was taken

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From: Jason Schneider
To: jimdero@earthlink.net
Sent: June 14, 2000 5:33:53 PM GMT
Subject: lester in playboy?

Hello Mr. DeRogatis,
First, a sincere thanks for your fine work on Let It Blurt. I owe my five year "career" as a music journalist in southern Ontario and for national Canadian publications largely to Lester. My life was changed when I read the article Psychotic Reactions... in a Creem anniversary issue when I was a wee lad in the early '80s, and ever since, his work and the work of all the others you talk about in the book has continually inspired me to interpret my own experiences with music in an honest and passionate manner.

I'm writing regarding your Lester bibliography and your request for info on things you might have missed. After going through it, I was reminded of a piece I'm convinced I saw in one of my Dad's old Playboys which I don't think you mentioned. It was a short piece in the music reviews section about the disco scene in New York, so it was obviously from the late '70s, and seemed not dissimilar from the story you included of Lester's night out at the disco. I wish I still have it for confirmation, since I would hate to send you on a futile search, but my photographic memory is hardly ever wrong. I hope this helps if you're trying to compile a complete list, but I felt compelled to write you anyway just to say a job well done. Hopefully you will be able to read my oral history of Canadian rock from 1985-95 when it is published next year.

All the best,
Jason Schneider
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Sent: Friday, September 08, 2000 6:53 AM

Subject: hats off from Night Rally magazine


 dear jim:


 you really buried that e mail address on that site. but i found it, and that  saved me a phone call to chicago (i like chicago. don't you wish they sold  nelson algren action figures on the streets?)


 THANK YOU for writing "let it blurt". my father bought me "psychotic  reactions and carburetor dung" when i was a teen-- lester was a huge  influence on my life and my writing career; i did rock writing as a young  woman, and have been publishing fiction for eleven years.  now, i am running my own literary magazine, NIGHT RALLY, and our first issue  has been well received. we are published out of philadelphia, and while we  often try to feature philly artists, we are not "local"; we sponsored a  fiction component of the longstanding piccolo spoleto festival in charleston,  south carolina this past spring, and we have fiction and prose by the late  andy kaufman in our next issue.  


 to find out more about the magazine in general, go to:



 amber dorko stopper

 editor in chief

 night rally magazine


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From: Daniel Hannon 

To: jimdero@earthlink.net 

Sent: Saturday, September 02, 2000 5:21 AM

Subject: Lester Bangs



Dear Jim,

Just a thank you to say how much I really enjoyed "Let it Blurt". I have a two page article written about a meeting with Lester in 1981 by Jon Langford of the Mekons. It was written to coincide with the re-release of psychotic reactions and carburettor dung in England and was published in Q magazine around winter 1996. I can't be more precise because I don't have the rest of the magazine ( I ripped the article off from the staff copy of the magazine at HMV where I was working at the time). If you are interested in reading it let me know and I will get it scanned and sent to you.

Yours sincerely 

Daniel Hannon.


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From: Bill Tuomala 

To: jimdero@earthlink.net 

Sent: Wednesday, August 30, 2000 1:50 AM

Subject: thanks





Lester Bangs has been my favorite writer ever since I got Psychotic Reactions for Christmas back in '87. I remember you saying on your last Sound Opinions show here in the Twin Cities a few years back that you were working on a Lester Bangs bio, and I awaited its publication from that day on. 


So I had to write you to say that Let It Blurt is some great work. I plan on reading it again this fall as I blew through it so fast last spring. I already know I'll enjoy it the second time around.


keep up the good work


Bill Tuomala



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From: "ray hadlock"

To: jimdero@earthlink.net

Sent: August 27, 2000 7:23:37 PM GMT

Subject: 'Extra CREEM'?



Hey Jim--


I'm Clyde Raymond Hadlock & I freelanced stuff to CREEM; I

think the 1st stuff appeared in about 1/74-- I had maybe 7 or 8 reviews &

a few Rock-a-ramas & a feature between then & I dunno, maybe '76 or '77.

Never met Lester face-to-face, but as you can imagine we talked quite a bit

on the phone-- his letters are most likely lost. You're getting the short

version of all this, since I can still hear Lester screaming "three hundred

words, ya fuckin' beatnik!" I would love to see another Lester collection.

Can you imagine my elation and then horror when I saw CD in the bookstore

only to discover it had been assembled by Greil Marcus? He monkey-fucked it

exactly as badly as I knew he would-- in other words about 40% of the

stuff included & excluded made perfect sense to him & no one else. I could

hose-whip him for leaving out the Bay City Rollers thing from PRM. And so


Well, there I go-- anyway, I can't imagine you didn't uncover the

'Extra Creem' inserts in the center of issues of CREEM that circulated in

Michigan-- surely Jaan or somebody else had some? They might have had a

different name even, but they were these stapled-in yellow paper inserts

with 'local' coverage-- maybe Lester didn't do anything noteworthy? It

seems like I remember a review of a local bar he did: 'The jukebox was

broken and it played 'Mississippi Queen' or something equally appropriate

all night and nobody noticed...' Well, certainly he woulda written for

that section too, & certainly it woulda been noteworthy... Hope somebody

has some, if they've been overlooked-- I probably will remember other

stuff too, as soon as I send this-- sorry I 'missed' you if you were

trying to track me down (& if you were, that's pretty scary). I might have

been able to provide a useable story or two-- he still owes me copies of

_Raw Power_ for that fucking 8-track of _Metal Machine Music_ I stole from

the record store for him-- imagine being polygraphed in a Holiday Inn by a

retired police sergeant and telling him 'of course we steal from them--

I'm getting 2.75 an hour-- I stole _Metal Machine Music_ for Lester Bangs,

an important American writer, who needed it for research purposes, so that

he could monitor the effects it has on pedestrians...'

Anyway, as infuriating as he could be, he did more good than harm in

my life and I miss him every day-- how many times a week do YOU see/hear

something & think "I wish Lester were here to throw down on this...' ? Yep.

Well, fuck the 300 words; any bio is a lot like the

3-blind-guys-describing-the-elephant story, and all-in-all I was pretty

happy with your book-- I would trust you to assemble another collection of

Lester's stuff and get it right and I hope you get the chance. Write if you

see fit...




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Date: 8/27/00 11:42:06 AM Central Daylight Time

From: AliBnSkemr

To: JimDeRo

Sent on: AOL 4.0 for Windows sub 104


Hi Jim--reading your book on Lester and hats off to you--its excellent. A cranky old prog fan like me finds plenty of offense in many of his screeds. But my love of a good slam almost makes me forgive. Which leads to a favor I must ask of you: I have been searching the web for the text of Blood Feast of Reddy Kilowatt! for what seems like forever. Would you be able to help me find a copy (why its not in carbeurator dung i wonder)?


Best to you and yours--and thanks for reveiwing the Halford CD--just bought it and its great!




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


 From: Steve Crawford 

 To: <jimdero@earthlink.net

 Date: 8/19/00 9:33:06 PM

 Subject: Bangs




 I just read the Lester Bangs book. Great book and undoubtedly it was a

labor of love. Hope I'm not annoying you by dropping you a line.


 Shameless request: I'm a big Cheap Trick fan and I didn't know Lester

ever wrote about them. Do you have the copy of the review he did on the

first Cheap Trick album (Stereo Review, Sep 77)? I'd love to see that.


 I started reading Creem about 1980 and it became a bible for me. I used

to memorize every issue. (I see we might have some similar interests -

I've had letters published in Creem and the Wrestling Observer

Newsletter!!). John Mendelssohn and I corresponded for many years and he

even thanked me in his "I/Caramba" book. (And heck, Richard Riegal even

sent me a tape of Lester with Birdland - wotta guy!).


 By the way, what is Rick Johnson doing these days? The creativity of his

writing just amazed me. (My parents got really worried when I'd start

laughing about things like "Geno-type Cointoss" in reference to Freddie



 Well, since I'm starting to ramble, I'd better sign off again. Thanks

again for providing an insight into Lester's life and the rock critic world.



 Steve Crawford



 P.S. Gee, and do you really think Robert Christgau attacked you so much

over the "dinner versus pie" issue or for looking like a pathetic homophobe

when it came to Vince Aletti?!?!



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


From: "David Rensin"

To: <jimdero@earthlink.net

Sent: Sunday, August 20, 2000 1:18 PM

Subject: Lester




 First, thanks for doing the book. I read it on vacation and, having been a

minor L.A. rock writer/critic

 in the early 70s (I was at the Memphis gathering, among others), it was

like a terrific journey through the past chock full of people I knew and

have never forgotten. The main thing, of course, is that the book is really

really wonderful. Among everything else, you got Lester as a human being;

you got his heart -- which couldn't have been easy. A lesser writer would

have just gone for the gonzo. You did more. As my long-time buddy (since

1973) Cameron said, "You caught the keys." In my opinion you put them in a

really fine car.


 Btw: I spent a drunken afternoon with Lester in his hotel room (or mine)

in Kingston, Jamaica, on that Bob Marley junket. We drank local rum. Yeah,

'mon. I will never forget sunset in Marley's backyard, him sitting on the

BMW, his pals darting in and out of the surrounding journalists, asking us

Bible questions.


 Also, glad to see you're with Chris Calhoun. He's a pal and a great guy.

Just saw him in LA a couple weeks ago.


 One question: reading the thank you's -- who is Carrie Anne Svingen? How

old is she? I ask because she may be someone I knew, only with a different

last name...and I've been looking for her.



 congrats again

 David Rensin


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


'Subject: Lester Leaps In

Date: Mon, 31 Jul 2000 09:46:08 GMT

From: mark eggins




just a short note to say I really enjoyed your Lester bio (picked it up in

Tower Records in Tokyo). He was and is a big hero of mine and a big

inspiration to my humble critical efforts over the years so it was good to 

see he got a very fitting bio.


Any chance of you perhaps editing another volume of Lester`s work?

Criminal that there is only one available thus far!





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Subject: Let it Blurt

Date: 5 Aug 00 13:31:03 MST

From: Mike Long




Great book (Read review in Denver's Westword, ordered online). Lester's

kept me from a life of listening to the Marshall Tucker and Pink Floyd.

I discovered Creem too late (about '74) to read most of Lester's work,

but enjoyed reading Psychotic Reactions... and the Blondie book. Hopefully

your book will encourafe someone to release more of Lester's writings. Again, thanks

for your great book. Where can I read your reviews?


- Good luck, Mike



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Subject: patti smith

Date:  Wed, 2 Aug 2000 15:24:45 -0700

From: Paul Gilvary


I just finished your Let it Blurp book. I loved it!


I did find one mistake though. You attribute Patti's quote This is the era where everybody creates to her Horses album. That was

from her Wave album when she was redoing the Byrds' So You Want To Be A RocknRoll Star.


I'm a Patti fanatic. Like I said though, your book was great.


Paul Gilvary


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Subj: Let it Blurt

Date: 7/22/00 9:18:06 PM Central Daylight Time

From: (Ron Dulin)

To: jimdero@aol.com


Mr. DeRogatis-


I just finished reading Let it Blurt, and it left with me with a strange

sort of melancholy. Fine work, though I'm sure I'm not the first to say it.


My question: With so much of Bangs' work left uncollected, why has there

been no follow-up to Psychotic Reactions&amp;c? Reading excerpts from his works

in your bio only made me want to read them in their entirety.




Ron Dulin


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Subj: <BLet it Blurt!</B

Date: 7/23/00 11:15:31 AM Central Daylight Time

From: Artknarf

To: JimDeRo

Sent on: AOL 5.0 for Windows sub 105


Jim, Wow what can I say but, a perfect book! It is really enjoyable to read such a well researched and organized book. There was just the right amount about all parts of Lester's life. I found the early years in his life surprising and interesting. The story unfolds very nicely w/out a lot of empty speculation or the sort of tabloid Told here for the very first time! crap. A well rounded picture of Lester is presented in the book, you did the job proud! I also found the information on the birth of rock criticism, and the other writers enlightening. Now I am going to look for the Tosches book. The beginnings of Creem when they moved to  Walled Lake was unbelievable! It's hard to imagine that sort of setup happening today. Living and working together in one house, which would be fun from about age twenty to twenty-two, reminds me of some the houses I lived in during college. Maybe it was the way the pay was at that time, but it seemed like the writers were paid exceedingly small sums, and practically a company town/house sort of setup were its pretty difficult for the workers to move up or out. As you said Lester freelanced more than anyone else there.


I think it shows his energy, and as pointed to in other parts, how he always got up from his low points and found ways of productivity. Lester's big heart comes through in the book, as do the clownish aspects of his personality. His drinking and outlandish stuff was rightfully covered, but without making him seem like a boorish hack. He may have had a sharp tongue at times, and all advanced drinkers can be assholes at times, but I felt from the book that Lester was a sensitive being and kind to others. He definitely didn't come off as a Jim Morrison type, who although, wrote some good songs (I like the Doors second album best of their work as an album) he always seemed to me from what I have read to be a very charismatic sociopath whom believed his own lies and enjoyed hurting people. As far as the ending I didn't think it was depressing. It was sad of course that he dies suddenly, but he lived his life and did a lot for dying so young. I disagree with some of his friends that couldn't see him doing anything different. I think just before he died he was in a sort of getting his mind ready to move. Who knows what would have happened? My feeling is he would have left NY and wrote about music but probably other topics as well.


His death reads as accidental to me. It doesn't take much when the wrong medication is taken together. A close friend of mine almost died from a similar scenario. My friend takes anti-anxiety medicine, and one night she was sick with headache and diarrhea. She took some anti-diarrhea medicine and something for her headache and the combination of the three almost killed her!


It was interesting to read the criticism of Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung. When that book came out I very excitedly ran out and bought it. I thought it was good, but was also disappointed. As someone whom had read Some but by no means even half of Lester's work, I thought the selected pieces left out a lot of the joy, and some of the better pieces that I had read. Thanks for putting" How to Be a Rock Critic" in your book. Regarding the Greil Marcus choices, well I have usually found his work interesting but unconvincing. His books often have some agenda that I find as hype and slanted as anything. He definitely has been guilty of omission to strengthen his viewpoint. And he reads way too much into a pop song. Anyway when I gave that book to friends to read, who had never read Lester; they loved it, and I couldn't figure out my disappointment until now. Anyway I feel you have corrected the bad job done by Marcus, and wrote a great book that does justice to Lester and should be of interest to anyone whom reads, even if they have no interest in rock-and-roll. I could really go on and on! But will say thanks for keeping the humor in the book. In my aesthetic all work should have moments of humor, besides Lester was a pretty funny cat, and it would be horrible to have missed that. The end with the cop asking for the rare record album as Lester is laying there being dead on the sofa is incredible, pure Monty Python or pure Bangs, terrific!!!


Thanks again for a great book.


 Frank Taylor



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Subject: your excellent book

Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2000 12:52:05 -0400

From: Robert Press



I just got done reading LET IT BLURT. fantastic. you really told me a lot of what i wanted to know. i never could get enough lester, and still can't. i remember riding around in an MG one gloriously aimless new jersey afternoon in 1980, being driven around new brunswick by a hairdresser named sinful (maybe you've run into her) and finding a trashed rock magazine underfoot in which i came across one of lester's histories of punk rock. i already knew who he was and that what he wrote was worth reading. i remember cracking up as i read sinful the article out loud -- something like "and when you've been up for a week on romilar and you're staring at your best friend whose face is collapsing in slow motion and he says to you 'i think i forgot how to think,' the last thing in the world you want to hear is suite judy blue eyes." 


there's no getting around the impact of those spontaneous timely discoveries -- i guess it's like listening to sergeant pepper in the summer of '67 as opposed to 30 years later -- but i had to drool over your bibliography of lester's articles. as much as i enjoyed PSYCHEDELIC REACTIONS, i agree with you that it was heavily weighted to one side of lester's writings. what i always enjoyed best were the almost throw-away reviews -- funniest things i ever read. how can i find some of those articles? any internet goldmine sources?



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Subj: I Knew Lester When We Were Kids
Date: 9/20/00 1:41:53 PM Central Daylight Time
From: SoniaNordenson


Hello, Jim--

I just left you a voicemail message at the Sun Times, and am writing as well to tell you that I knew Lester Bangs when he was thirteen and fourteen. I was two years and three grades ahead of him at El Cajon Valley High School, and we lost touch after I graduated. But I know when and why he changed his name to Lester, and still have a number of wonderful letters and poems that he wrote to me.


Just to entice you, these early writings include Lester's version of the song "Billy Boy," which, in part, went something like this: 

. . . Yes I am a witless Witness,

humble, meek, and shitless.

He's a young man and cannot leave his mother.


I'll be glad to share these treasures with you, for a future expanded edition of the bio or simply for your own delight and further understanding of Lester.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Subj: Fw: overdue congrats

From: "Steve Simels"

Sent: Wednesday, September 13, 2000 1:56 PM

 Jim -- just found your homepage and e-mail (I had tried to find you through the paper with no success). Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that "Let It  Blurt" is really great. I knew Lester professionally (I actually auditioned  for his band with Nancy) and you nailed both him and the scene exactly. A  first-rate job.....


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


From: Jeffrey Morgan
To: Jim DeRogatis
Sent: Sunday, September 10, 2000 8:57 PM
Subject: Let It Blurt


I just bought a new copy of Let It Blurt and wanted to take the time to tell you that I'm enjoying it immensely. Thank you very much for writing it: you've done the man and his work a great service. Hopefully, as time goes by, more of his unpublished work will see the light of day because, personally, I can't wait to read it.

At risk of repeating myself, being discovered by Lester in 1974 and asked to write for CREEM was not just one of the highlights of my life, it was literally a huge turning point that steered me down a fifteen year road with CREEM that I at the time had no intention of traveling down in my wildest dreams.

To cite just a single example, without Lester my Alice Cooper box set essay literally would not exist; which is a pretty humbling thought. For him to ask me to write for him--unsolicited by myself--and then take the additional time to offer guidance and support, well, that's a form of kindness which only comes along once in a lifetime, if you're lucky.

I've been edited by some of the best in the rock business during the past quarter century, but Lester was the best editor I ever had. Everything I am as a professional writer I owe to him, and it's a debt that I've never forgotten and never will.

By the way: my novel is almost completed. It's 200 pages single spaced and 81,000+ words with a chapter and a half to go.

Now all I have to do is somehow find an agent who specializes in twisted fiction.
Jeeze! Where the hell's that Bangs when I really need him?



PS: You didn't have to mention me in the acknowledgments section of your book, Jim, but I deeply appreciate the fact that you did; I'm glad I could help you in any small way I could.



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Subject: lester


Thu, 19 Oct 2000 09:23:17 -0700

From: Dave Perry

To:  jimdero@earthlink.net




Just finished Let it Blurt. For the second time.

I hope you don't mind me using this address to send the following:


What a great book.

For the past 14 years, I've been the staff music writer for The Lowell

Sun in Lowell, MA, the birthplace/resting place of Jack Kerouac.

So in some vague way I know this game, though all the rules and most of

the possibilities have changed since Lester wrote.

Yeah, I get my 20 minutes on the phone with some band when they blow

through town, and I write my advance, and I cover the show. And then,

unless it's that singular, extraordinary event, it's gone.

For years, I've heard the resounding chorus of Kerouac in Lester Bangs'

writing. I wrote the liners for Rhino's Kerouac box set a few years

back, and one of my jobs was to connect Jack, as an influence, to the a

long line of pop musicians. So why didn't I mention Lester? I'm still

kicking myself.

I am 43. Like you, I suppose, but a few years older, I was one of those

kids who sopped up Lester's writing in my room, surrounded by records.

Back when I was writing about music for free while I got paid to cover,

well, everything, for a weekly paper in Connecticut (early 80s) I used

to write for this freebie rag called Vox Pop. I heard at one point that

Lester was accessible in New York, but never planned the trip that you

did, never caught those keys.

Reading Let It Blurt made me wish I had.

Your job of reporting was extraordinary, and what I loved best was the

way you set Lester apart from those he often worked with. He was indeed

worlds apart, and it had nothing to do with drugs or filth or body odor.


The "Dean" and his ilk always forgot how to draw me in, or never cared

to. The scene of Christgau and his wife over dinner at Lester's broke my


And having seen Almost Famous, with its conscience wandering around an

apartment crammed with records (yeah, I noticed which ones were visible,

too--Crowe got it right) in a "Detroit Sucks" t-shirt, made me re-read

Let It Blurt. It's funny the way Lester Bangs has come back not to haunt

us but to remind us of some things that are all but forgotten. Kerouac,

I can tell you, came back similarly.

Oddly, I didn't call the publisher for a review copy when your book was

published. I wanted to spend my own cash on this one. And I can't tell

you how glad I am that I did.

So, I guess, thanks. I always knew there was indeed a man in there. You

finally introduced me to him. Thanks for the keys.


Dave Perry

The Lowell Sun

15 Keaqrney Square

Lowell, MA 01853



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Lester Bangs


Fri, 13 Oct 2000 18:22:18 -0500

From:  LDC 

To: jimdero@earthlink.net



On my drive back to work after lunch I was listening to "Fresh Air" on

the radio.. Usually, I find it delightful but not on this afternoon..

I am sure you are familiar with the show since you were the featured

guest. The topic was your book " Let it Blurt - The Life & Times of

Lester Bangs, America's Greatest Rock Critic.


I always find it hard to believe that someone with second hand knowledge

is always able to form such a concrete opinion about Jehovah Witnesses.

I can tell you have never talked with a JW. Mr. Bangs opinions, even

though he was raised as a JW, were highly distorted. JW's enjoy music

just as much as the next person. My uncle is a JW, and he owns a oldies

vinyl record store on the strip in Hollywood.


To be one of Jehovah's Witnesses he would have had to give up the

destructive life style that killed him. When someone becomes so self

invented, emotionally and physically in what they are doing, little

else matters to them. That person, especially if gifted with words and

pen can be ruinous to someone else's reality.


I did not know him personally, the way you did, but I do have friends

that are heavy drug users and I can tell you this, the only opinions

they trust about life are their own. I just hope that next time you

decide to describe a group of people to the world, the least you can do

is interview someone from that group. By the way Coltrane's " My

Favorite Things" is a classic.



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Good Book.


Tue, 10 Oct 2000 10:40:42 -0400

From: "Joe Bronowich"

To:  jimdero@earthlink.net


Mr. DeRogatis:


As a fellow Hudson County native (West New York) I wanted to tell you how much

I enjoyed "Let It Blurt". Your compassionate, well researched study was

informative and entertaining. As insightful as the book was, Mr. Bangs still

remains an enigma - a classic case of "Trust the art, not the artist". I

wonder along with you what might have come had he been able to get at that

novel. Despite what others may say, your subtitle is correct: he clearly was

Americas Greatest Rock Critic.


Do you think he'd still be writing about music today?


I could bore you with may more paragraphs about how "Creem" was my bible, yada

yada yada, but I'm sure your have better things to do with your time. Thanks

for the book, I look forward to the next one.




Joe Bronowich



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Subj: <B Hullo</B

Date: 10/11/00 12:57:47 AM Central Daylight Time

From: dmahoney

To: JimDero@aol.com ('JimDero@aol.com')




I just spent the past few hours devouring every word of yours that I could

find on Ironminds.com. I was particularly impressed with how lucid, yet

sharp, accurate and entirely alternative the pieces are, even as I wondered:

If all of the mainstream megahits are polluted by predictable appeals to the

least-common-denominator, most-numerous-buck, is there anything in music

today that you like? Wanting more, I also checked out some of your

equivalent Sun-Times pieces, on Pearl Jam and the Pumpkins, and was

surprised--though I shouldn't have been--at how you lined your gloves with

velvet, softening the edge of some of the punches for the wider audience.


My interest is more than casual--I just finished a 2.5 year run writing a

700-word music column in our local alt Boise Weekly, sharpening my prose as

I honed my views, but ultimately feeling myself begin to burn down under the

inevitable cynicism that arises from writing of dull, bloated national acts

and nascent, sometimes very derivative or simply bad local acts. Boise is

still best known for Doug Martsch, Curtis Stigers and maybe Caustic Resin,

with little else national-caliber of any genre on the horizon. Usually, the

too-kind non-confrontation geek in me would pull back the hardest blows on

the local bands--not wanting to judge them at a ridiculously high national

standard, and disdaining the cliched rock critic hack attacks--but I always

felt weak and emasculated in doing so. I don't particularly regret that

stance, since I believe that natural selection should weed out these bands

unaided by some snot-nosed critic, but incriminating bands with faint praise

at the margins grew tiresome. The world of good, honest, accurate but fair

rock criticism, written in a voice of one's own, still has great appeal to

me, though.


BTW, I picked up a copy of your Bangs book and breezed through it easily and

enjoyably, which is a high compliment in this too-hectic day of constant

distraction. It was nice to know of Bangs as an erratic, unpredictable

Meathead, not merely part of an alliterative toss-off line in a rem song.

Your account of your interview with Lester was particularly riveting. Do you

agree with Greil that the best writer of his generation wrote record

reviews? I'm decidedly undecided (and skeptical) on that one.


Best regards,


--Dale Mahoney



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Subj:  Hello from J Church..

Date: 10/6/00 12:59:51 PM Central Daylight Time

To: jimdero@aol.com




I'm not really sure if this is still your e-mail address, so I'll keep this 



My name is Lance Hahn and I'm in a band called J Church. We're sort of an 

indie-emo(blech)-type-punk-pop-band thing. It's no big deal, but I wanted to 

send you a couple of our CDs to check out. I really liked "Let It Blurt" a 

lot. It's funny, because when you get right down to it, it's the same old 

story. There's always the originator of any art form and a million copy cats 

all missing the point.


Anyway, I've also been a writer for Maximum Rock-N-Roll since 1983. I still 

write for them, but am attempting to get printed elsewhere. I'd love to send 

you a copy of my newsletter to see what you think. A lot of it is just 

ranting and raving. It's only half about music. The most popular thing I've 

written so far is a comparison of Star Wars to Game 5 of the '75 World 



So send me your mailing address if you could and I'll send you a bunch of 





J Church


"Artists care about aesthetics as much as birds care about ornithology" - 

Barnett Newman


"One Mississippi" - J Church

Brand new double LP on Honest Don's Strictly Analog Recordings...



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Subj:  Thank You

Date: 10/3/00 5:31:14 PM Central Daylight Time

From: nhlcritic

To: JimDero@aol.com


Mr. DeRogatis:


I just returned from Stockholm, Sweden where I

devoured your book, LET IT BLURT. I want to thank you

for writing such a thoughtful, comprehensive book on

the life of Lester Bangs. 


I grew up in Brooklyn listening to classic rock, punk

and new wave. I remember my friends checking out

copies of Creem and talking about Bangs but I was

painfully unaware of his work in the world of Rock

criticism. But I loved- and hated- the music of that



I felt as though I was living through that period

observing Bangs as he moved through the years

searching for something new to say or just commenting

on the state of music at the time. Equal parts sad and

comedic, LET IT BLURT made sense of the often dense

movement dominated, in my opinion, by unreadable

critics whose prose was often more confusing than



As a writer I found your book a wonderful guide in the

art of writing a biography. I shall certainly read it

again. So thank you for the inspiration.


I also caught the fact that you write about wrestling

which is something that I am also very interested.

Geez my pay-per-view bill reflects that near

fanaticism every month!


A funny aside: I grew up in Brooklyn at the same time

as Peter Senercha, a.k.a Tazz. He was friends with a

few of my buddies who went to Franklin K. Lane High



I look forward to reading more from you in the future.


With best wishes,


John Sanful 



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To: <jimdero@earthlink.net

Sent: Tuesday, September 26, 2000 6:21 PM

Subject: Bangs book



As a former NYC freelancer/lightweight rock critic of that glorious era, I'd  like to say how much I totally appreciated the book - but I can't. The  nostalgic phlegm conjured up in your tome was completely thwarted by learning  that poor Lester died whilst listening to that wretched Brit  synth-pop-pablum, DARE by The Human League. Not that it surprised me mind  you, it just reminds me of how cruel God is. Lester clearly heard that and  realized there was no place left for a true r&r fan. Sadly, he was right,  although a part of me likes to think that he might've embraced, even cheered,  for say, Eminem, who for some reason feels more like someone who today comes  closest to exuding true punk spirit than nearly all of his rap/psuedo-punk  counterparts combined.


By the way, I passed the book along to my friend Matt, who roadied for The  Ramones during their 10 headiest years and he returned it last week offering  me no review other than a head-shake, which I think kind of sums it all up.


It was a good summer read. Now I can stash it in the closet with my other  memories of the time: dusty vinyl that I occasionally pull out and  crusted-over, half-used bottles of Crazy Color. That shit doesn't even cover  gray.



 Best Regards,


 Jacquie Tellalian/nyc



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To: <jimdero@earthlink.net

Sent: Tuesday, September 26, 2000 5:43 PM

Subject: Let It Blurt




 Dear Jim,


 I really enjoyed Let It Blurt, which I just read on holiday in southern

Italy -- a very incongruous setting! I'm very interested in tracking down a copy of the novel "Harry Vernon At Prep". I've tried all the usual place -- Amazon, the Strand in New York etc. I don't think it was ever in print here in the UK, let alone out of print. Any ideas as to where I could get hold of a copy would be welcome.


 Well done on the book.


 Best wishes,

 Andrew Bendel



Let it Blurt
Thu, 28 Dec 2000 07:18:53 -0800
From:  "George Kopp"

Hi Jim,

I grew up in Birmingham. Even had pizza at Pasquale's. Saw the movie "Almost
Famous" and the the character Phillip Seymour Hoffman played, Lester Bangs.
I read Creem magazine, but wasn't as say a devout Lester follower. Looking
back on it I read the reviews superfically. If it sounded good on the radio
I bought the album.

On a whim my wife bought your book for me for Christmas. I must say I really
enjoyed your book.

George Kopp

P.S. If you are going to do "time" in Detroit. Birmingham isn't a bad place
to do it.


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Subject: thanks
Date: Sat, 16 Dec 2000 03:51:48 -0500
"Erica Basnicki"

Hi Jim
I don't know, you don't know me, but I just finished reading "Let it Blurt" and absolutely LOVED IT.
I'ma 20 year old University student in Toronto, Canada, absolutely obsessed with all facets of "rock
'n roll" and your book is a definite highlight in my collection. Congratulations. If Lester was alive, I'm
sure he'd be really moved.
Erica Basnicki

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Subj: i'm almost finished with _let it blurt_!
Date: 12/13/00 8:40:52 PM Central Standard Time
From: pxe2000@yahoo.com (pixellated pixie)
Reply-to: tugboat@channel1.com
To: JimDeRo@aol.com

hi jim, this is chelsea -- i emailed you a few weeks
back about the short story "dori bangs". i finally
broke down and purchased _let it blurt_ because it's
the end of the semester and i needed something new to
read, something that had nothing to do with the
classes i'm taking this semester. since i just
transferred to a new school this fall it's been pretty
intense and i haven't had a chance to explore a lot of
things i'm interested in. and, of course, when school
started i found myself developing new interests that
weren't covered in the curriculum, and while i'm
thrilled to be studying film and other things, i've
been chomping at the bit to look into other areas
since the beginning of the semester.

from a purely objective standpoint, _let it blurt_ is
amazing. you do an excellent job trying to cover all
the different facets of a notoriously difficult
subject, and you clearly have a great deal of love for
your subject. although you didn't want to make the
story a tragedy, i couldn't help but feel a pang of
sadness at the close of the book (i have yet to read
"how to be a rock critic") -- i kept wondering "is
that all there is? what would have happened if he
lived? there was so much left for him to accomplish!,
etc", but i also realised he wasn't able to come to
terms with his demons and needed the kind of clean
slate that this life couldn't give him. sad to say,
but as much as i mourn all the things lester didn't or
couldn't accomplish, i also feel like his death was in
some ways inevitable, that he'd accomplished all he
could within these parameters and that there was no
other point but out.

however, every work of art is 50% the art itself and
50% what the reader brings to the table and how she
(in this case) sees it. i bring some heavy baggage to
the ballad of lester bangs in general, and at this
point in particular. i'm a somewhat angry person and
much of that anger has really been affecting much of
my actions lately, and i'm not proud of this fact.
lester's evangelical fervour for the music he loves
attracts me because, like him, my musical talent is
negligable but my love for music is all-encompassing,
but his life is so incredibly sad in some ways...i'm
afraid of becoming him, sort of, because i can see how
i make stupid decisions in my anger and how i sort of
advertise that i'm making stupid decisions. and i
don't want to be so wasteful.

i'm sorry to drop all this on you. (it's probably
none of your business.) if nothing else, the book may
end up being a catalyst that makes me pull my head out
of my ass. :)

so: thanks.



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Subj: More omissions.
Date: 12/10/00 9:19:35 AM Central Standard Time
From: Black2com
To: JimDeRo
Sent on: 6.0 sub 171

Since we last writ, I believe I found two more. First is from Bedloe's Island (no cover date...I assume it's from late 1972), which printed in its "poetry corner" the words to Lester Bangs' "Barricuda (sic) Anthem" ("Hey Motherfucker"). The notes state that these were "from the days he was practicing so ESP would sign him up." The other is the liner notes to Suicide's Half Alive tape, or did you mention that?-CS


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Subject:  lester bangs bibliography omission
Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2000 20:45:33 EST
From: Black2com@aol.com
To: jimdero@earthlink.net

Although I may be too late in telling you and perhaps this maybe be snuggled
somewhere in the bib. in the back of let it blurt, here's an article I don't
recall seeing..."White Light/White Bonusburgers" in Teenage Wasteland Gazette
vol. 2 #12. I think the date is sometime 1973 if that's any help, and the
piece was a rundown of fast food chains. Not surprisingly, the spirit
duplication was pretty much milked by the second page of the piece making my
copy rather difficult to follow.-CS


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Subj: [Fwd: Black47eNews]
Date: 12/5/00 9:47:01 AM Central Standard Time
From: bigrafx@home.com (Barbara & Bob Ingalls)

Funny how Lester Bangs' name comes up so much lately. I wasn't one of
best friends, by a long shot, but we were drinking buddies back in those
and wooly days in the Bells of Hell on 13th Street. I understand he's a

character in the movie Almost Famous and Jim DeRogatis has written a
biography called Let It Blurt. One of you, Pam, was good enough to
send me
a copy of Jim's book and, while I found it truthful and pretty much on
mark, still I stopped reading after a chapter or two. To tell you the
I didn't want anyone else's impressions making a mark on my own

And Lester was one of those people who left an indelible mark. The
thing is, I can't even remember meeting him. He was just one of a cast
great characters who inhabited (and I use that word in its truest sense)
Bells. He was well known by the time I met him, at least in music
Even in those days, he was recognized as the finest writer on rock music
his generation. Of course, from today's perspective, Lester was a
certifiable lunatic. He eked out a living, writing very long and
pieces for the Village Voice. He didn't give a godamn about money,
when he had none) prospects or the state of various stock markets. Talk

about road to ruin! Lester was hell bent down that one.

In my memory, his three closest friends were also critics - Billy
John Morthland and Nick Tosches. They are all fine writers and I hope
tell their sides of the Lester story someday. I suppose it was Lester's

balls to the wall passion and utter conviction that set him apart. The
lived music and judged the world through its prism. There was a right
there was a wrong and that was all that there was to it!

I shared a number of passions with Lester but the only one that you need
about was the longing to let the night never end. The era was the late
pre-Reagan, pre-AIDs, pre-guilt about having no money. I was a member
of the
house band in the Bells and was generally allowed to drink free or as
free as made no difference. I'm not sure what Lester's drinking
was but regulars were never turned away, from the Bells, thirsty. In
our own
minds, we were all one check away from greatness or, at least, temporary

solvency. Many times Lester and I repaired to his apartment - up a few

blocks on 6th Avenue. One odd thing about him, he would never go to my
favorite after-hours, The Kiwi over on 9th and A. Lester was
conservative in
that regard, he liked to be within striking distance, or perhaps
distance of home.

He was a great man to argue with. We were all mad about music in those
I couldn't give a fiddler's for much of it now. I wonder would Lester?

But, he did back then and therefore, he was, in my view, fair game. His

columns in the Voice were provocative and incendiary and if one
well then there was Lester slouched over the bar, a veritable sitting
after you had downed a half-dozen Heinekens.

He had lived in Detroit and had seen much of Bob Seger in his early
including a period when Bob had given up rock and turned to an Astral
type Van Morrison phase. Astral Weeks has always been my favorite
album, so
I was fascinated by the turnaround of this Motor City Rocker. When
released his second successful album - its name I no longer remember -
ripped him to shreds in the Voice. In my drunken truculence, I berated
Lester for this, reminding him that he had told me of all Seger's
and years of poverty and now that he was making a few bucks, idiot
critics in
the Village Voice were taking him apart. At first, Lester refuted this
but I
wouldn't give up. Then to my amazement, Lester broke down crying,
saying he
had never thought about the pain and cyclical poverty he might be
visiting on
the mighty Seger. Lester was distraught and I had worked myself up to
such a
self-righteous frenzy, soon the two of us were rocking back and forth
two keeners at a funeral. I suppose what I'm trying to say is that
really cared.

He had been sent to England to explore the burgeoning punk scene. By
time, we were well used to punk over here but it never captured the
imagination of the mainstream press as it did in England. We all adored

Television who were the kings of the New York/CBGB's scene - if you
have it, get their first album, Marquee Moon - but Lester's editors
wanted a
piece on the newsworthy Sex Pistols. When Lester hit London, however,
happened upon The Clash. I can still remember the night he returned -
glow of messianic discovery in his eyes as he described the "best rock &
band ever". Oddly enough, the greatest impression they made on him was
they allowed their fans to sleep on the floor of their hotel rooms. To
Lester, it wasn't just the music. The music and the musicians had to
something beyond mere music. They had to chisel out their own Mount
Rushmores in his fervid imagination. Nothing more - nothing less.
was right about The Clash. We'll never see their like again. Will we
see another Lester? Even less likely.

I was on the road when Lester died in 1982 - I can't believe it's almost
years. His three critic friends took care of the funeral. I often
think of
him, perhaps, for selfish reason. We were great friends but he never
about any of the bands I was in. It puzzled and even hurt, at times.
back in the Bells, you hung up your guns at the door and it would have
gauche, and probably painful, if I'd had the bad taste to ask him his
opinion. Still and all, I have this 55/45 feeling that he would have
Black 47. Then again, with Lester, you never knew. I find it strange
it means so much to me, after all this time. Whatever, he would have
told me
the truth, bitter though it might have been, and after, we would still
linked drunken arms in keeping the dawn at bay.

And then, I wonder how would Lester deal with today? Again, I don't
He lived, breathed and adored uncompromising music. It's just so hard
to see
how he would fit in. The awful truth was that he could see the end of
music, as we knew it, and his own relevance therein, coming. Still, I'm
his death was just another of those awful, grandiose mistakes that were
of our lives back then. The question is, if he was alive today, would
just be dying a slow, compromising death up in his ramshackle
apartment. I
think not! But then, again, there is so much I am unsure about in the
present scheme of things. All I do know is that sometimes as the dawn
cracking the skies over the West Village, I remember the man vividly and
sadly delighted that many more will know him now because of the movie
Jim's book. Hey, Lester, thanks for all those nights, man. And I still

remember your greatest fear but forget it, you don't have to worry! You
the best - a real original - you made the music talk.

Larry Kirwan


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let it blurt...too many inaccuracies
Date: Sun, 26 Nov 2000 19:43:30 -0500
"Wendy Warren"

Dear Mr. Derogatis,

I have recently come across a copy of your book entitled Let It Blurt. It is truly a shame that when
researching your book you did not bother to check for facts. Just a few direct mentions:

1) Barry Kramer was not 37 when he died...had you bothered to verify his death certificate, or even
just read his tombstone you would have known that.

2) The farm in Walled Lake was barely even 5 acres - hardly 120 acres as you wrote. There was
only one house - not two.

3) The move to Birmingham was at Barry's insistence - not Connie Kramer's.

There are many more mistakes in your book - I cannot believe you didn't even bother to check for

As for how I know these things? I am the sister of Connie Kramer, the former sister in law of Barry
Kramer. I grew up with Creem as part of my foundation. I worked in the office, and I spent time at
the house in Walled Lake.

I am aware that my sister declined to speak with you regarding this book, however that is no cause
to less than accurately research your information.


Wendy Warren


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Subj: America's Greatest Rock Critic
Date: 11/14/00 4:30:28 PM Central Standard Time
From: apope@shorefire.com (Anson Pope)
Reply-to: apope@shorefire.com (Anson Pope)
To: jimdero@aol.com (Jim DeRogatis (Chicago Sun))


I shall start by saying this email is not a pitch at all. I am not mentioning any of my artists' events or record releases. I'm writing to share some thoughts and feelings conjured up by your Lester Bangs biography.

Being one of the younger publicists in the music world (a measly 25), I was born too late to enjoy the writings of Lester. Okay, so one might argue I was not born too late since I was 6 in 1981! Even still, I was unaware of him and his writing back then.

My early music diet consisted of Blondie, Elton John, Beethoven, Black Sabbath, the Stones, and it all led me to MTV. What can I say, I am of this generation. MTV had my friends and I pondering George Michael's sexuality based solely on which ear his earring was in. Had I grown up in the 70's I would have been a Creem reader and follower. I know this because of your book.

You can call me an uneducated music publicist. I went to college with aspirations of becoming an astronaut, majoring for two years in Aerospace Engineering. It was my many hours spent at the college radio station that led me astray and Calculus became Intro to Journalism. It was there (the radio station) that I found my passion for music (mostly industrial music--love the Wax Trax scene) and my desire to force what I deem talent, down the throats of the pop loving culture in which we live. I knew nothing about this business other than what I'd been exposed to, which a few years back was loud rock radio programming at my college station.

Since 1997 I've been in PR, here at Shore Fire. I figured I had better learn more about the world in which I live, so I read Hit Men. I learned nothing new, this was all stuff I knew about. Every industry is dirty one way or another. Even still, Hit Men did give me a good look at this business. Your book gave me another good look at it.

Like I said, I had no clue who Lester Bangs was, and it wasn't until after I started at Shore Fire that he popped into my life. Along with the movie Dazed and Confused, your book made me wish that my parents were a little older and that I had been born maybe in the early 60's. The music was so much cooler then. And the people that moved it were more true to their beliefs. I'm not about to pull journalists apart for loving Britney or Ricky or even Marilyn Manson, I just want to say that I feel the honesty is gone. Your book showed me that. There were some parts of it that actually made me feel vile for doing what I do. It also made me feel like maybe I was on the wrong side of the field, that maybe if I wanted to help move talent I should write about it rather than pitch it. That's a whole other issue.

Your book led me into the life of Lester, his writing, and the early foundations of rock writing. It's interesting to look back and see who the players were and how they have affected the landscape I work with today. It's also made it funny to deal with some of these people. For instance, I can't call Christgau now without thinking of the nude editing story. This book was truly an education, one that I needed.

Well now I have gone and rambled on when all I was looking to do was praise your book and ask (in the tradition of another Shore Fire staffer) if you would inscribe it if I sent it to you. I can send it to your office if you'd like. Let me know what's best for you.



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Subj: FWD: Hi Jim
Date: 11/13/00 9:30:16 AM Central Standard Time
From: jimdero@earthlink.net (jim derogatis)
To: jimdero@aol.com

------Original Message------
From: Jon Ginoli
To: jimdero@earthlink.net
Sent: November 12, 2000 1:41:24 AM GMT
Subject: Hi Jim


HI! It's Jon from Pansy Division. I recently read your Lester Bangs
book, and I just LOVED it. It tells a great story, and an important one
to remember. My sister and I used to read Creem in the mid to late 70s
and always loved Lester, and the writers he encouraged. In 1979 I even
met Rick Johnson! Probably not a big moment for most people, but it was
cool to me.

I picked up the book the other night to reread a passage and I ended
rereading half the book again. It reads very easily and seems very well
researched. Bravo! And geez, I still miss Lester, like I still miss D.

So apart from me wanting to write you about that, your name turned up in
another place this week. I work at Amoeba Records in S.F. when I'm not
busy with Pansy Division, and love going through the flood of used
records and CDs we get. The other day I saw the CD by Mod Fun that Get
Hip had put out, with your name as producer (I think!). I have a
question. Didn't they later change their name to Animation? When I was
on tour once with my old band The Outnumbered, I stayed over night at
one of their houses in Westfield, New Jersey. None of the guys in the
pictures looked like the guy I remember; do you have any idea who it
might be? I was just thinking about this recently and then this CD
turns up. Funny how life is.

Thanks for the good job,
Jon Ginoli


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Subject:   LIB etc.
Date: Wed, 27 Dec 2000 20:26:58
From: "michael layne-heath"

Hello again Jim:

Well, after months of browsing thru copies at every available opportunity in local
book stores and with the advent of the holidays and thus Xmas bonuses, I FINALLY
got my hot little paws on a copy of L.I.B. Thus, a series of random semi-connected
thoughts on same:
First off, it's REALLY weird to read about CREEM magazine in your book,
especially as someone who was experiencing reading it firsthand and in its
time, and consider that it's now HISTORY, as much as the World Wars, the Cold
War, Mantle, Monroe etc. "Americana", albeit of a somewhat warped and individual
manner ...
Also, as i read through LIB, i find my two predominant reactions are either "oh
wow" (in amazement) and "oh no" (distress).
On the positive, I think one of the highlights of LIB is your exhaustive biblio of LB's
published work. Truly what will with any luck be considered in time an invaluable
resource to those out there- me incl. - with access to libraries, microfilm, used mag
shops and the like, to
not only connect or reconnect with LB's lit. legacy, but ultimately to bypass Perfesser
Marcus and those of his ilk and PUT TOGETHER ONE'S OWN DAMN CARB
A D.I.Y aesthetic approach that, when you think about it, is something Lester would
have wholeheartedly approved.
But given the time o' the season, LIB -and by ext. you- provided me with a
penultimate Yule treat. Poring over the biblio, I spied the entry for the unrel. liner
notes for the Comedian Harmonists anthol. As luck or blind damn providence would
have it, I happened to have seen the recent and wholly intriguing biopic on said
Harmonists on video, no less than a month ago.
So such a discovery - made tangible by a little trip to the NY Times microfilm section
of my local library - totally fed into my curiosity re: the CHs. And DAMN if Lester
didn't pick up on what made them unique, as vividly and enthusiastically as any of his
best crit pieces ever did.
That I should have made this find when I did, though, makes for seriously spooky,
visions-of-LB-from-beyond-the-grave (ooh-WEEE-ooh) coincidence, no? In any
event, it made my holiday complete, to be sure.
Thanks for the latest addy to your site, the Memphis Rockcrit Con thang, though I
wasn't personally THAT curious to find out whether or not R. Meltzer was Jewish (cf
photo at top of article), heh... and speaking of rhymes-with-seltzer, have you seen his
Opposing Viewpoint piece regarding ALMOST FAMOUS on the rockcritics.com
website? ("Third spud from the sun")
I was gratified to have my own serious ambivalence about Crowe's Hollywood
candycoating of that time period (HWD. has a habit, after all, of being either too
rosecolored or too sensationalistic with such subject matter, with precious few
exceptions, which is why I hated the O. Stone Doors flick - best comment about that
abom., in my opinion, came from the great Danny Fields, who said he knew it was
gonna suck when he saw that the role he portrayed in real life - that of Doors' Elektra
promo guy - was being handled in the movie by a short blonde midget, three
features that do not in the least describe Fields - and THERE'S someone who
deserves a book written about them, wouldn't you say?) justified, even if R.M. DOES
spend a good third of his piece settling scores regarding the 'Teen Twerps' (as
opposed to 'Noise Boys') Tiven and Sugerman, in that crotchety,
old-fart-on-the-porch manner that he has sadly adopted in most of his writing over
the past fifteen or so years. ("Aw jeez, Unca Dickie, not the
New-York-Dolls-Snowball-Fight-Story AGAIN!!")
One last thing - in your acknowledgments section, one of the names you listed was
one Barbara Rice - by any chance the same B.Rice who edited DC's late lamented
TRULY NEEDY zine (for which i was but a humble scribe)? I've been trying
to reestab. contact with the broad for yonks...last i heard she was a paralegal in
upstate Maryland.
Anyways, end-of-year congrats on an accomplishment well done and kudos well
deserved... (And how WERE those Wire 2K shows anyways?)
cheers - Michael Layne Heath, San Francisco

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Bangs vs. Reed
Fri, 22 Dec 2000 09:27:07
"Thomas Radwick" <radwick@hotmail.com>

Greetings Jim,

Thanks for making your interview with Lester Bangs available on the web. It
is good reading, and one gets a fair sense of him from it. Do you have any
tips as to how I can find (preferably on the web) the Bangs vs. Reed
article/interview (I don't know what form it took) that Lester wrote BEFORE
"Let Us Now Praise Famous Death Dwarves?" Thus far I haven't had any success
in hunting it down.

Thanks and good wishes,


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Subj:    fan mail (I guess)
Date:    12/29/00 2:05:17 PM Central Standard Time
From:    hotratslll@yahoo.com (Larry L)
To:    jimdero@aol.com

Hello Jim,

I've read your first book on psychedelic music. I
really enjoyed it. You turned me on to some bands that
I was not aware of, thanks for that. I'm currently
reading your Lester book. I'm at the part where he
just started in AA. I'm really liking this book.
Lester was a very interesting guy. He turned me on to
a bunch of music, especially the Stooges. Anyway,
thanks for 2 great books, please write another. The
music guys in our local papers suck, especially Dave
Ferman of the Ft. Worth Star Telegram. Oops, sorry
about that. Take care.

Arlington, TX


Subj: Let it Blurt
Date: 1/18/01 8:43:26 PM Central Standard Time
From: homepride2000@home.com (David @ HomePride)
To: jimdero@aol.com

Dear Jim:

I've been reading Rolling Stone since 1974, and used to pick up Creem once
in awhile at the local grocery store in my hometown of Steeleville, IL
(population 2,000....saaaaalute!). These magazines were my window to the
world, and the inspiration for my eventual escape. One Christmas I received
the Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll as a gift. So I'm
certain that over the years I read some of the work of Lester Bangs. But
being an unsophisticated teenager, I never really appreciated his genius.
Then this last year I was completely blown away (like most music lovers, I
guess) by Cameron Crowe's "Almost Famous." In particular, I was captivated
by the "character" of Lester Bangs as portrayed by Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

So, having a renewed and rabid interest in the man and his work, my wife
bought me "Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung" and "Let it Blurt" for
Christmas this year. I read "Psychotic Reactions..." first. This gave me a
glimpse of Lester's genius with words and his vision/passion for rock and
roll. Then your book gave me what seemed to be a loving and honest picture
of the man. Pulling no punches, you created a thoroughly engrossing, and
rather sad "warts-and-all" portrait of a brilliant and troubled person. I
couldn't put it down.

Having read your book, I feel like it might have been easy to respect, maybe
idolize, even love Lester, but (wow!), I bet he would have been a hard
person to live with or even spend any extended length of time around. I
don't know if this was your intention, and maybe it's just me, but I really
FELT that in your book.

Great work! I hope this won't be your last novel or biography of someone
you admire. I'd be anxious to read your next work. I don't know if you do
this kind of thing, but I'd be very pleased if you'd be willing to autograph
my copy. I could drop by the Sun-Times office sometime, if you have time.
Drop me a line to let me know if this would be appropriate, and to suggest
how we might arrange such a meeting.

Kind regards,

David Joost
CEO/Program Director
HomePride Chicago

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Subj: Lester Bangs bio
Date: 1/8/01 10:38:26 AM Central Standard Time
From: Rough Gems
To: JimDeRo
Sent on: AOL 3.0 16-bit for Windows sub 60

Hi Jim --

Jonathan Perry here. It's been a long time since our rockwriter paths crossed at Rolling Stone (where you started assigning me pieces for the then-fledgling RS Online, and we talked about our mutual daily beat reporting pasts in New Jersey).

At any rate, I just wanted to drop you a quick note to offer my congratulations on your superb book on Lester Bangs and to say that, as a longtime Bangs fan (who, like you, was actually alive and rock-crit conscious when he was around), I'm enjoying the work immensely. A long overdue glimpse of the man behind the by-line, and one that obviously was a time-consuming, impeccably researched labor of love. It's not only made me go back and and re-read all those old issues of Rolling Stone and Creem that I've collected over the years, but it's a striking reminder of what music criticism can be. So thank you.



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Subj: Let it Blurt
Date: 1/3/01 10:41:30 AM Central Standard Time
From: HickeyMJ
To: JimDeRo
Sent on: AOL 5.0 for Mac sub 7


Pardon the intrusion (I noticed your e-mail address on a mass e-mail that I also received)...but I just wanted to say I just finished Let It Blurt the other day and really enjoyed it. Among many things, reading about the old Creem was very cool. Great job.

Matt Hickey

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Subj: fan
Date: 1/2/01 2:26:52 PM Central Standard Time
From: kfoley801@hotmail.com (Kelly Foley)
To: jimdero@aol.com

read let it blurt(great)
then your anti-tribute article
like the stuff you're doing.
i come from stockton,ca
home of pavement,grant lee buffalo,lord buckley.
am in a band called toadstool theatre
hope ya get to hear it someday
don't stop
kelly foley

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Just stumbled upon your website...
Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2001 20:35:26 EDT
From: PBux238


...and I wanted to let you know that I think you're a fantastic writer and interviewer. I read "Let it Blurt" a few months ago and thought it was easily one of the best, most interesting, and most entertaining biographies I've ever read. Lester Bangs is one of my heroes (I'm looking into actually getting a Lester tattoo, believe it or not) and I really think that you did him tremendous justice. By the way, what did you think of Phillip Seymour Hoffman's portrayal of Bangs in "Almost Famous?" Seeing as how I've never seen video of Bangs or anything, I couldn't really judge, but it still seemed kind of off to me. I dunno, maybe it was just the movie (I was very excited to see it only to be very disappointed by it's lack of rock 'n' rollness).

Also, I thought your article/interview with Ben Weasel in Spin was extremely well done. Screeching Weasel are one of my all time favorite bands and I thought that you did a perfect job of explaining the SW mythos in a way that would enlighten people who weren't familiar with them while not boring long-time fans. Seriously, it was a great job. I was kind of hoping you'd mention the Shotdowns, though (hardy-har-har). How did you first meet Ben, anyway? What's the extent of your friendship?

Well, I guess that's about it. I just feel like you deserve some serious praise and wanted to give you the equivalent of an electronic pat on the back. Oh yeah, what are some future projects? All right, I guess I've rambled on long enough.


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Subject: bangs book
Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2001 15:07:29 -0700
From: Jon Booth

dear Jim DeRogatis,

bam. shazam. you da man! I just finished your book, "Let It Blurt", and in case you don't know, it was great. old news I know, but it had to be said. bam.

of course I didn't click you, a perfect stranger, just to ply you with
idle flattery. I also wanted to pose you a question, because you seem like a person that would know... is there any plans afoot, anywhere by anybody you've heard of, to publish more Bangs anthologies since "Psychotic Reactions..."?

of course I've read that, and like so many others who grew up in the 70s hanging on Bangs' every printed word, I'm asking 'is that it? is that all there ever will be to read and re-read and display proudly on my bookshelf?'. doesn't seem right.

me, I have a dozen ideas (at least) about how Bangs' writing could be further anthologised and disseminated (crap, I'm probably spelling/using words wrong, I'm obviously not a writer), if only for a small niche market... does any of this sound at all do-able? book editing and publishing is not my area, but I've been known to attempt ill-advised projects and business ventures before (not with any results I could brag about) and if anybody who even remotely knows what he/she is talking about were to encourage me to pursue this idea a little further, I just might.

so, if you have a minute to reply, I'd love to hear from you. if not,
no biggie. keep up the good work and take care.

peace, man

Jon Booth

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Subj: Thanks for "Let It Blurt"
Date: 4/1/01 11:11:37 AM Central Daylight Time
From: digeorgior@worldnet.att.net (digeorgior)
To: JimDeRo@aol.com

Dear Mr. Derogatis,

I wanted to take an opportunity to thank you for your book "Let It
Blurt", which I just had the pleasure of reading. It brought back many
happy memories of reading Lester Bangs' writing in the 1970's, and of much of the music I loved then and continue to love.

I think you did a wonderful job of meeting the goals for your book in
that you captured the era very well. Because of this, the book will serve to document a time when writing about Rock was as important as it was. Readers in the future will therefore be clued in to this. I'm glad to have run across your book, and now look forward to reading "Kaleidoscope Eyes". Now being too old (38) to read music periodicals (except for MOJO, which caters to old folks such as myself), I am very glad that writers such as yourself have begun to write books which I can read and enjoy. Perhaps this is what Lester would have done, so I'm glad you are doing it in his stead!

Dan Smith
Jacksonville, Florida

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Lester Bangs
Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 14:14:41 -0500
From: Margaret Crandall

Dear Jim,

I just finished your book on Lester Bangs. Wow! That was incredible! I
knew nothing about the man (other than the little part in Almost Famous), and thoroughly enjoyed reading your biography of him. Do you have any other books in the works right now?

I used to live in Chicago, where I was a big fan of "Sound Opinions." Do
you still do that? And you look *nothing* like what I expected you to look like. I guess you probably hear that a lot.

I've done some writing about music for washingtonpost.com, and am going to
do some for allmusic.com. I would love to be able to do this for a living - to write about music and pay the bills at the same time. Am I crazy? Is this possible? Any advice you could give this newbie would be greatly appreciated.


Margaret Crandall

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Subject: article
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2001 07:14:12 -0800 (PST)
From: Scott Tribble

Hi Jim-

Just finished reading your Bangs biography--congratulations on a fine
effort! I appreciate your hard work in trying to essentialize a very enigmatic personality(-ies) and also in trying to forge new ground with a history of music criticism.

I was reading your Sun-Times piece on the American Music Awards (I just
moved to Chicago from Boston), and I liked your not-so-subtle diss of Creed. I do some writing on the side myself, and I thought you might get a kick out of this anti-Creed piece I just wrote.


Enjoy, and thanks for all the wonderful words.

-Scott Tribble

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Fri, 2 Mar 2001 15:22:35 -0600
From: "Baird, Pat"

Hi Jim:

Just wanted to let you know your Lester book has been officially submitted
for a Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Award.

I just finished reading it myself and was very happy to see Tony Reay
finally credited with starting Creem. I certainly wouldn't blame you if you
were tired of the subject, but Tony can be reached (in Northern England) at


Pat Baird

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Subject: Les Bangs
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2001 15:15:40 -0800 (PST)
From: Jess Montgomery

Hello Jim

Just wanted to say that I am half way through LET IT
BLURT and am enjoying it immensely. Part of my
enthusiasm is because Les and I were best friends in
5th and 6th grade at Lincoln School in Escondido. His
mom moved to El Cajon in part because she didn't want
his going to the dreaded Grant Junior High down the
street. I only saw him a few times after that, once
when my mom drove me down to visit and another when
Norma brought him up and he retrieved his Mr Lucky
album from me, as stated in your book. I didn't see
him again until about 1969 in a writing class at SD
State. True to form, he showed up for about 2 classes
the first week and then again the last week, trying to
turn in his book manuscript in lieu of all the other
assignments he'd ignored. We promised to keep in
touch, but our paths were far apart at that point.
Since you have obvoiusly done so much work on the dude
you may well be ready to forget the whole subject,
but if you are interested I could relate details of
that period as I remember them. I do have a few pretty
amusing pictures that you would enjoy and would be
happy to send copies if you are interested. Too bad I
didn't hear of the book until now. I'm sure they would
have been included.
What I find most amazing is how into the music we
really were at that point. It's especially obvious now
that I have a 10 year old boy of my own (my
girlfriend's, actually) whose interest peaks at The
Real Slim Shady, Who Let the Dogs Out, and the Digimon
Theme Song and evaporates thereafter.

Regards- Jess Montgomery
Subj: Nasty On
Date: 2/25/01 3:06:44 AM Central Standard Time
From: grimmeron@hotmail.com (Jason Grimmer)
To: JimDeRo@aol.com

Hey Jim,

I'm Jason from the Nasty On. we're happy you like our song. Really liked your book on Lester, I'm currently searching for your "Kaleidescope Eyes" book. We sent a copy of our EP to "Revolver" as well. Our website setting-up has taken some time, but it should be up soon.

Do you know anywhere I can get a copy of Lester Bangs & The Delinquents album? I have the Birdland record and were covering "Kill Him Again" soon.




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Subj: a personal note, jim
Date: 2/11/01 8:14:25 PM Central Standard Time
From: CoreyTan
To: JimDeRo
Sent on: 6.0 sub 10501

i owe you an apology for ripping off your beach chair idea to review pearl jam last year. i had no idea it was gonna get me national press. i never read your original review, so that's how i justified doing it, but i am ashamed. (i think i did a pretty good job, though.)

speaking of good jobs, finally read your lester book. congrats. it filled in a lot of holes left by carbureter dung and the creem articles i read as a kid. i had no idea you guys knew one another. cool. it was lester's articles that got me started in the biz. and when i took an editorial post at circus in 1989 (for $18k a year!), one of my main motivations was there was no more creem left to work for anymore.

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Date: 2/2/01 6:03:31 PM Central Standard Time
From: Amy_Linden


it onlt took me a few months to finally buy your book and i just loved it....loved it... Im lending it to my boyfriend who isa native Detroit kid because the picture you created of the scene there was so vivid and so.. well reminded me of why i even bother to do what we do. Thank god im not the only person who is driven up the wall by the marcuses of the world and as someone who has had the chance to meet and read many of the fine folks in the book(especially the dear Mr Altman and the lovely Jaan, you did them and of course lester much justice

two thumbs up babe!!!!!!!!!!!

a fan

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Subject:  A few words of dissent
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 2001 22:25:43 -0800
From: wwwilson@connectto.net
To: jimdero@jimdero.com

Dear Jim:

A friend of mine just related what you said about me in your biography of Lester Bangs. I'm disappointed.

Based in Los Angeles, Mendelssohn was the odd man out (of the
"Noise Boys") and the most disliked by the others.

Words can't begin to convey how not troubled I am about that. I don't know, Jim. Call me a jittery neurotic, but there's just something about alcoholism, infantilism, and deliberate loutishness that don't work for me now, and didn't work for me then either.

A weird combination of raging egotist and jittery neurotic,

Pretty shallow, Jim. I like to imagine that there was always an unmistakble layer of self-mockery about the raging egotism; at the time, there probably weren't four people on the face of the earth with lower self-esteem. Pretty obtuse too, I must say, suggesting that there's something unusual about egotism and neurosis coinciding.

he celebrated fey stylish artistes such as the Kinks and David Bowie while skewering sweaty hard-rockers such as Led Zeppelin and Grand Funk Railroad.

Jesus, spare me, will you? What I detested (and continue to detest) was unironic machismo. Also, could you please explain why you neglect to mention my having championed such quintessentially non-fey "artistes" as The Stooges, Alice Cooper, Procol Harum, and Black Oak Arkansas,sweatier than whom they didn't come?

He described himself in his more manic moments as "the King of

Indeed. 23 years later and with tongue obviously in cheek,  recycling Bud Scoppa's description of me, by which I was greatly amused.

and he became the first well-known rock critic to cross over to the other side, fronting a precious glam band  called Christopher Milk. He didn't see a problem with hyping his own group while trying to destroy the careers of others, and he eventually fell out of favor as both a critic and a musician.

Well, you got some of it right, Jim.

"Criticism to me was lashing out at someone powerful and making them tremble," Mendelssohn said in 1997. "I don't know that the writing for me was ever more than showing off and enjoying the glory of it."

I related this to you very much in a spirit of confession, of owning up to my own sins, which I believe (and believed then, contrary to your crack about my "not see[ing] a problem...") to have been considerable. And you present it as self-aggrandizement.

Very disappointing, Jim. Very.


Subj:    Let it Blurt
Date:    7/17/01 2:38:39 PM Central Daylight Time

Dear Jim:

I just finished reading "Let it Blurt" (better late than never!), and found it to be one of the best biographies I've ever read. It is truly a great work of journalism, rich in detail, insight and most importantly, compassion for its subject. I was hooked from the beginning, and was sorry when I got to the last page. Trying to understand a person's life is a daunting challenge, and I believe you were able to capture the intensity, talent, boorishness, lonliness and ultimately tragic existence of American's greatest rock critic. Bangs was indeed a complex character, and this complexity is evident by your reporting and interviews with those closest to him. Beyond chronicling Bangs' life, I thought you deftly addressed important issues about the nature of rock criticism and the music industry, celebrating their triumphs as well as their flaws. As a fellow journalist, I can appreciate the hard work that went into the book. It is a great work.

I've followed your work for years, and count you among the best critics (rock or otherwise) around. It's because of your obvious passion for music and respect for musicians and fans alike. Well, I just had to write. Rarely am I compelled to send such letters, but your book moved me. Keep up the great work. I hope to see you out there on the beat some day.


Kevin Davis, Chicago.

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Subject: Let It Blurt
Date: Sun, 1 Jul 2001 22:55:56 EDT

Jim DeRogatis:

Hello. I noticed your e-mail address at the beginning of the bibliography in
Let It Blurt. I just wanted to let you know that I really loved your book.
I'm a new reader of Lester's work. I just recently got a copy of Psychotic
Reactions and Carburetor Dung. At the same time, I got a copy of Let It
Blurt, thinking that it would be good to read about Lester's life while
reading his writing. It was a good decision. Your book helped me to gain a
knowledge of what the man behind the writing was like. Thank you for writing
such a wonderful book. I had a great time reading every page of it.

Be well,
Leigh Buck

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Date: Fri, 22 Jun 2001 08:42:19 -0700

Mr. DeRogatis:

Yesterday, I read your excellent LET IT BLURT. I, like Lester Bangs, was born too late for the beats and the hippies;
my maternal grandparents came from Arkansas; I grew up in an LA suburb. After serving time at UC Berkeley in the
late 60s, I decided to become a music critic. I flew to LA, met a guy at A&M Records, got on their mailing list,
sent caustic reviews of the records to ROLLING STONE's Jon Landau, who wouldn't print them. Since I also sent
the reviews to the A&M guy, I was removed from their free records mailing list. I quickly learned that the whole
thing was a scam, and a horrible "career choice," lacking integrity. Since 1971 I've written over 600 songs.

Lester Bangs, who emerges from your book as a surprising sweetheart, embraced the Beautiful Loser/Noble Savage
myth, and then discovered it had embraced him in a death grip. Bangs always intended to go to Mexico to purify
himself. In February 1988, I moved to Mexico, and, at the age of 40, found the soulmate Bangs always sought. The
guy was THIS CLOSE to solving the riddle of self. Had he lived, I believe he would have been a "cultural critic" in
the style of Camille Paglia, who is a "cultural critic" in the style of Lester Bangs.

-Reinaldo Garcia

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Subj:    lester
Date:    6/25/01 3:15:50 PM Central Daylight Time
From:    KENT.BENJAMIN@tlc.state.tx.us (KENT BENJAMIN)
To:    jimdero@aol.com

Jim, just had a chance to read the Lester Bangs book (having just finished the bi-annual 6 month legislative session, when we actually work for a living here - 7 days up to 12 hours a day for the session).

Just wanted to drop you a note to tell you that you did a really lovely job. I know as a writer, sometimes you really pour your heart and soul into something, and seemingly no one cares (altho I know this one got reams of press). I just wanted to tell you it was a really well-researched and emotionally moving read. Never knew much about his childhood at all; it explains reams about his alcoholism and addictive personality. Above all, it just felt to me like a fair and accurate depiction of the man; a biographer can aspire to little better.

Funny to me that he moved to Austin a mere couple of months before me, and that most of the sources you quoted are people I know, and several of the key ones people I'm pretty close to. Never met him, tho, started writing for the Chronicle shortly after he left. (Boy, Ed pegged the Delinquents right on the money!). Funny too that while I know how close some of them were to Lester, I've never really grilled 'em on it. Maybe I've had too many sad friends who didn't make it to revel in the stories I would've expect to hear from them about Lester.

I'd put off reading the book because even by the mid-'70s, the whole cult of Lester Bangs was just so obnoxious. He virtually started the whole writer as a character in his own writings style of writing - and is without peer as the most often and badly imitated music writer in history. I mean, there's SO many talented writers that could have inspired hordes of followers, yet Lester pretty much dominates that cult of personality. And yet, there's barely a one of them worth washing his socks. They just miss the point entirely as to what made his work good, entertaining, and sometimes just chillingly brilliant. Thank god Meltzer didn't die young of a 'romantic' drug overdose - that would've been a frightening thing.

I was just telling a young kid here that while Lester was always one of my very favorite writers (and a huge influence), I stopped buying albums he raved over after the Count Five article. Went out and bought the album for $.49 in the cutouts the day after reading it, expecting brilliance, and found, well, a bad-funny album by a bunch of guys who had no real talent (excepting Sean Byrne). But, you know, it was that very article that made it 'acceptable' for me to listen to local bands in general, to appreciate how brilliant The Gants from my hometown (Greenwood Miss) were when I'd looked down my nose at 'em in the '60s in favor of the Who, The Kinks, and the Small Faces, and just generally was single-handedly responsible for opening me up to listening to all kinds of things. Even now, the Bandstand Count Five appearance is one of my all-time favorite bad-funny TV appearances. I might've taken Lester with a grain of salt, or viewed him often as 'entertainment' rather than 'serious' writing, and yet he had more influence on my outlook towards music in general than almost anyone.

I dunno, I always felt like I KNEW Lester thru his writing - his heart, his soul, his sense of humor, his sense of doomed desperation, and outrage at the inanities of the biz. It's good, really, to know that was the real person.

And I still heartily look down on anyone who mimics his lifestyle. Which you presented unflinchingly like it really was - sad, lonely, and pathetic. And god, did they catch it right in Almost Famous - the heart of the man, not the drunken ranting idiot he could become at times.

Never believed he killed himself, and still don't. He just had too much passion and love of life. Wish he were still sharing his passion and outrage with us. It reminded me how much I miss him, and how much I always will. Gonna have to drag out a box of old Creem's tonight...

Thanks, Jim.

"Just remember: no matter where you go, there you are." -- Buckaroo Banzai


Subject: Yet More Praise For Let It Blurt
Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2001 00:44:16 +0100
From: "Colm McAuliffe"

Hey there:

With regards to " Let It Blurt ", it certainly served as inspiration for any aspiring music journalists; although I was dismayed at the suggestions somewhere that Lester's musings would not be
considered acceptable today....nevertheless, it was a truly excellent read, in particular the article tagged
on at the end re guide to becoming a music critic...both this and Psychotic Reactions... should be required
reading for any wishing to become a music critic...oh, and the fact that you spend your time listening to
Wire was just the icing on the cake...good on ya!


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Subject: Thanks for Let It Blurt
Date: Sun, 12 Aug 2001 14:31:19 -0700
From: "Macrae, Scott"


Just finished reading Let It Blurt, and wanted to thank you for writing it, so thoroughly and so well.

And thank you for using a piece I wrote in 1976 for the Vancouver Sun as source material.

Partly because I was a huge fan of Lester, and more likely because you were able to use something of mine from another life and time, your book nudged a load of memories.

I came of journalistic age in the 1970s, utterly spoiled by a brief and giddy era that threw up heroes like Tom Wolfe, Hunter Thompson, David Felton (or was it Dalton? Probably both) -- and out at the periphery where it got pretty interesting, Lester

I love the idea of you traveling into New York City to catch the keys. (I guess you don't always catch them: I walked, wide-eyed, into the Rolling Stone office in 1974 under the impression that it was run like something other than Exxon, and got a
shit-on-my-shoe look from Jann Wenner for my naivete . . . ) I was probably just as nervous as you when I phoned Lester in Michigan several years earlier; I really didn't know what I'd get on his end of the line.

I'd say you and I talked to the same guy, a good and innocent heart; I really didn't recognize Lester in the didactic, humourless characteroid in Almost Famous. I interviewed Hunter Thompson in the mid-'70s, and let's just say that no matter how much
Romilar and booze Lester swallowed, he was still too sweet for the bitter self-parody of his fears and Thomson's reality.

When I finished your book, I went to the basement to see if I had a copy of the Creem story I wrote for the Vancouver Sun. A great thing about that job (after the free records, concert tickets, T-Shirts and assorted other cultural detritus) was these big
scrapbooks of each writer's work that the features department secretary kept. I thought it was pretty neat at the time that someone else was paid to do the heavy-lifting ego work that we were way too cool to be seen doing ourselves. (I married her.)
Afterward, and before databases, the scrapbooks make up for young drugs and old age.

How on earth did you ever find it?

I had long forgotten two other Lester pieces that I found in one of the scrapbooks. In one, just a five-graf update for a New Year's looking-back story in January 1997, I quoted him in a phone call from New York: "Creem was always a comfortable berth. I
was sort of a big fish in a small pond. It is much more insecure here but the challenges are greater."

Then I did another phoner with Lester (Into Showbiz with a Bangs!, July 22, 1977) on his CBGB performances. My story is hellishly self-indulgent, and on several re-readings today I can't divine my point of view: Did I take his move to music straight-up?
Or was I exhibiting ambivalence, if not hostility, at the prospect of Lester the writer being seduced by the object of his real talent? I expect it was much the latter, because my attraction to Lester was more to his writing, less to the passion for
music. Of course, teasing the two apart is a futile task, but to me the tragedy of his stupid, stupid death is we didn't get to see where his writing could have gone.

The story has some quotes from Lester on the CBGB shows, how he hates rock stars and how he's serious about his music. He gave me these lyrics for the story:

You can talk till you're blue in the face
About human rights in Uruguay
Write books on the problem of race
Or genocide in Paraguay

What do you do for we who are no longer human
What measure of grace
When you've dismissed us from the human race
We are no longer human/no longer human/no longer human
But what are you?

When I was two-thirds through Let It Blurt, I retrieved a letter Lester wrote after he read the Sun story you use in your book appeared. I used it as a bookmark for Let It Blurt, and now have a much better place to store it.

The letter is undated, on the reverse of a screamingly funny Carpenters' record company news release (for reasons of indigence rather than recycling ethic, or even irony, I'd guess.) Of course, I was so flattered by the letter that the fact that he was
hustling me for freelance work sailed right over my head. (The Vancouver Sun did run his Canadian beer piece, and so doubtless helped bankroll his move to New York City.)

Dear Scott:

Thanks for the fantastic articles; I blushed. Really, it was the best write-up I've ever received -- I only hope I can live up to it. Only had two complaints: I thought it sounded in the quotes almost a little bit too much like I was saying Creem was
just a crappy underground rag until I came along, and also I have not gone out to California to be an editor of Chic with Ed Ward.

As a matter of fact, I am freelancing full time and getting ready to move to New York. One of my first freelance pieces was the enclosed, which I did in a slightly different form for the Windsor Star. My friend John Laycock of the Star suggested I send
it to your paper as well, so I'm sending it to you. Please let me know if you can use it. I had a lot more fun with it than writing Aerosmith reviews, I can tell you that.

Thanks for your consideration and everything else,

Lester Bangs

P.S. John also said to tell you that the Star has pictures of me researching the piece should you require them.

Jim: Thanks for a great book.

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Subject: Let it blurt
Date: Sat, 11 Aug 2001 19:05:04 -0400
From: "Joseph Tepperman"

dear jim derogatis,

hi, how are you? i just finished reading "let it blurt" and i really enjoyed it. just writing to you about the
bibliography... i don't have anything to add to it, but i was wondering where i can find some of lester's
articles online (the ones that aren't included in "psychotic reactions and carburetor dung", of course...).
i've seen his review of patti smith's "horses" and some interviews with brian eno and captain beefheart,
all scattered on different sites, but do you know of a web page that has lots of bangs articles archived?
i understand you like the flaming lips. right on! which of the bands that have come up since his death
do you think lester would've liked? do your tastes differ much from lester's?
anyways, thanks for a well-written and -researched book. write back when you have time, please.

jjjjjjoe tepperman

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Subject: fan letter
Date: Sat, 11 Aug 2001 11:54:09 -0400
From: David Shenk


I somehow completely missed the U.S. publication of Let it Blurt, but was lucky enough to run into the UK edition (haunting cover) a few weeks ago in Cambridge.

Your book is terrific. I really admire your indefatigable fact-gathering and storytelling. Most impressively, you managed to portray the greatness and tragedy of Bangs without Jim Morrisoning him. It's a neat trick and as a writer I'm even now wondering how you pulled it off. If I ever profile someone that mythic, I know I'll be going back to your book to study your methods.


David Shenk

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