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Let it Blurt

By Jim DeRogatis

Lester Bangs, born 1949, is seen now as one of the greats of rock criticism. Starting out at Rolling Stone in his early twenties he developed a new style of rock journalism – passionate, engaged, and part of the scene he wrote about.

Gonzo journalist, gutter poet and romantic visionary, he lived the rock and roll lifestyle to the full – in Detroit where he wrote for Creem and then in New York at The Village Voice. Fired by Jann Wenner from Rolling Stone for a scathing review of prog rock band Canned Heat, Bangs agitated for sounds that were harsher, louder, more electric and alive. Treated as a peer by such visionaries as Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Richard Hell, Captain Beefheart, The Clash and Debbie Harry, his writing came to define the aesthetics of heavy metal and punk.

Tragically, Bangs died in New York at the age of thirty-three from an accidental overdose of painkillers. Meticulously researched and written with energy and style, this is a raucous and compelling biography of a unique and influential voice in rock writing. De Rogatis also paints a vivid picture of rock culture in its most turbulent and creative years. He includes a previously unpublished piece, “How to be a rock critic”, a hilarious satire on the rock critic’s often tawdry trade.

Lester Bangs was immortalised by multi-award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman in cult rock movie Almost Famous, directed by Cameron Crowe, who had worked with Bangs at Rolling StoneLet it Blurt is essential reading for any rock fan, and in particular for any aspiring rock writer.

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