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

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  1,475 ratings  ·  63 reviews
Let It Blurt is the raucous and righteous biography of Lester Bangs (1949-82)--the gonzo journalist, gutter poet, and romantic visionary of rock criticism. No writer on rock 'n' roll ever lived harder or wrote better--more passionately, more compellingly, more penetratingly. He lived the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, guzzling booze and Romilar like water, matching its energy in...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 18th 2000 by Broadway Books (first published April 1st 2000)
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Please Kill Me by Legs McNeilChronicles, Vol. 1 by Bob DylanLove is a Mix Tape by Rob SheffieldOur Band Could Be Your Life by Michael AzerradPsychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung by Lester Bangs
Best Non Fiction About Music
32nd out of 757 books — 610 voters
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian FlemingMoo by Jane SmileyMr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? by Dr. SeussChattering Courtesans and Other Sardonic Sketches by LucianChicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.
Onomatopoeic Titles
64th out of 67 books — 11 voters


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Librariasaurus
I bought this after I saw the movie Almost Famous for the first time. I was fascinated by the Philip Seymour Hoffman character of Lester Bangs. I wanted to know more about him and discovered this book by Jim DeRogatis.
The book is simple reading, and can be finished in a couple of days, I seem to absorb more of this book every time I read it, new details about the monolith of rock criticism that is Lester Bangs emerge. From his birth and early family life, to his drug addictions, sexual experienc...more
Erik
I am not a fan of Jim Derogatis at all. He's that typical music writer that I despise, a sideline observer who prides himself on how harshly he can pan musicians whose talent and artistic integrity exists on a level that he will never achieve. Still, as much as I can't stand old Jim, I must give him credit for his well-written and well-researched book that takes you into the life of the greatest music writer of the twentieth century. Lester Bangs was the H.L. Mencken of rock and roll, a true bel...more
Mark Desrosiers
I was mostly surprised that Lester became such a wuss in matters of love.
David Glenn Dixon
Washington City Paper
Arts & Entertainment : Book Review

Mo'Lester Blues
By Glenn Dixon • May 26, 2000

Ever notice how greatness isn't so much veryverygoodness as a mark of precisely how much and how the great one matters to whoever's handing out the laurels, goodness be damned, or at least darned? When Chicago Sun-Timer Jim De gets all superlative on the dead ass of Lester (ne Leslie) Bangs (ne Bangs), upgrading the LEGENDARY anointment that got rubbed into his Atlas-aching (but still dead) bac...more
Ben
If there were a gonzo holy trinity, I'd vote for HST, Henry Miller and this guy. He's the best. He lived hard. He burned to live. He was a total nutcase. He had horrible hygiene and plenty of women fell for him anyway. Perhaps they felt sorry for him as much as anything. Though he could be a helluva fun guy. (He also happens to be where David Foster Wallace got the phrase "erection of the heart" -- s'thing I just learned in David Lipsky's interview/book from DFW.) He grew up Jehovah's Witness, w...more
Nycdreamin
A great biography on the life and career of writer, rock critic and musician Lester Bangs. Anyone who read Rolling Stone or Creem Magazine back in the 1970's will surely remember Lester as he was one of a only handful of rock writers who became almost as legendary as the subjects they wrote about. This book details his upbringing, and his meteoric, sometimes controversial but always amusing career as a writer and delves into his musical side projects as well. This book also includes a nice selec...more
matt
Worth reading automatically because it's about Lester but Derogatis really doesn't write all that well. The writing is ok as far as it goes but the man knew him and interviewed him and I really wanted something of the Bangs touch. The research is there, it's just not quite the fitting tribute to a guy for whom rock criticsm and aesthetic comprehension was a form of art and legitimate literature in its own respect.

The stories are good and the insight is suitable but I was all in all dissapointed...more
Chris
In a way this is better than the collection of Lester's writings that I read earlier. Jim is such a "fan" I guess of Lester that he eschewed the crap that existed in that collection such as the writings from the "grave". He shows Lester warts and all and Lester had plenty of them, but you respected him and rarely felt sorry for him which would be any easy trap to fall into. Lester was an interesting and sad man. Jim really got to the joy of him as well. After this you feel like you "get" Lester....more
Ellen
It's been years since I read this book my freshman year of college after being introduced to Lester Bangs by Almost Famous. Jim Derogotis' book got me really interested in bands from the seventies and in listening to rock music critically and in a social context. Appropriately subtitled "The Life and Times of Lester Bangs," the book also captures and era and lifestyle. "Let it Blurt" is as much about music as it is about sex, drugs, relationships, and culture.
Johnny
Having had my appetite whetted by "Almost Famous,' I sought this biography of Bangs. Unfortunately, the author who chose to capture the life and times of our most famous rock critic is nothing more than a fanboy amateur who somehow manages Bangs's life come across as boring, insipid and self-indulgent. Maybe that's the truth, but I much prefer Philip Seymour Hoffman's version--at least he was lovable.
Anna Bond
I am a huge Lester Bangs fan, but not so much a Jim Derogatis fan. The narrative here doesn't really work, and the interviews Derogatis chooses seem overly critical of Bangs. It gave me this weird feeling that while Derogatis is trying to pass this off as an homage, he's really trying to prove that Bangs wasn't so great.
Todd
Jan 22, 2008 Todd rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: rockers
Not a whole lot of people from my generation even know who Lester Bangs is...so here's your chance. If you like rock and roll from the 60's and 70's, maybe you'll like this book. If you felt a kinship to "Almost Famous", you'll probably like this book.
Charissalee
Oh brother. I accidentally requested this from InterLibrary Loan, thinking it was a work of Mr. Bangs, not his life story. Is there anything less fucking interesting than reading the biography of a rock music critic? To be sure, if there were a bio which could break the dull mold, it would be Lester's. But this book doesn't break anything. The back story on Bangs's upbringing is not nearly as interesting as the author thinks (Jehovah's witness, shme-movah shitness, I say) and the truth is that I...more
D
There is a lot of things that go on with Bangs. There is a battle to claim the dead man as a slain prophet, or the innocent who took the lifestyle to the ultimate conclusion, passing into a coma with the Human League's 'Dare' LP lying on the turntable of his NY apartment. But for all those battles around his legacy, all that he left us with is two collections [Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, & Mainlines, Blood Feasts and Bad Taste] which contains pages of electric prose, albeit most...more
Lindsey
Seeing as that Taylor Rushing hailed this biography of a rock critic as one of the best books on this planet, and it takes place during the 60's, I was really expecting a better story.

I admit, I enjoyed reading about little Lester Bang's flannel shirt filled childhood (the pictures are darling), and his folk music loving era when he wrote for Rolling Stone and Creem. He had a huge passion for music and writing, and despite the lack of fortune accompanied with his reviews, he still loved what he...more
Andy
I actually skipped class and waited around outside Hawley-Cooke Booksellers at 8 o'clock in the morning to get my copy of this book on the day it was released. What a passionate youth I was.

I revisited it recently, and I suppose it holds up OK. DeRogatis isn't much of a prose stylist; the writing is mechanical and dull. But it would have been truly awful if the author had tried to imitate his hero and written it in the gonzo, Bangsian style. It's a enough decent introduction to an important cul...more
Steven
Love Lester Bangs' writing and good to hear stories about him and all that...but Derogatis is not the best writer and hey, you might as well go back to the source...I'd rather rear psychotic Reactions and mainlines, bloodfeasts and bad taste again...which I do every so often...

Joe
This was fine. Cool reading about Lester's career and a little bit more insight into his influence and importance in rock criticism. But overall there was an excessive admiration for him that was hard to get past to get to the real content. Good subject, but the book could have been a lot more interesting.
William Murray
Just like the rating, it was OK. I came away knowing a bit about Bangs' past and how he developed his style, but never got to see it. De Rogatis talks about it a lot, as do his interview subjects, but we are left to take it from them. Without seeing his writing, there is no way to come to your own conclusion.

His (self-destructive) path from California to NYC was well documented, as was his link to various scenes throughout - Detroit, the punk/post-punk scene in NYC and then to the Austin and ba...more
Elizabeth Bartucci
After listening to Lester Bangs talk about a broken heart, Cameron Crowe said it 'validated for him that it was cool to have a heart, even if your front was all aggression,' which I think is why every time I took out this book in public, strangers would coo and tell their story about their affection for Lester Bangs - they too understood that feeling. It's what rock and roll is probably about - all that toughness all those wailing guitars and pounding drums - at its core there is a longing, a ki...more
Rob Schorr
Very interesting account of the late rock journalist Lester Bangs. It shared a lot of insite inside this tumultuous character's life. Glad I finally got around to reading it!
Liz
knowing random things regarding his life beforehand, this book was great at putting together the puzzle that was lester bangs. i'm not a quick reader, and this was by no means a quick read. excitement arose picturing the venues described and the musicians involved through the multitude of name dropping, which also lead to some of the drag time. So much was interviews that you had to concentrate on who each person was and the timeline. a must read for music fans. i also need to get back to nyc!
Ed Wagemann
Why Everything You Think You Know About Punk Is Completely Wrong:
http://generation-add.blogspot.com/20...

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Jaycruz Cruz
Sep 07, 2009 Jaycruz Cruz rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Music Fans
More than a bio, Lester Bangs story reads like the classic tragedy. Which is the sad cliche that "from great tragedy comes great art", but it's true. His writing made people see in music what others didn't see. He's credited with coining the term "heavy metal", and without him bands like The Stooges and The Velvet Underground would probably have been forgotten. It's a truly fascinating story excellently told by Derogatis.
Kirsten Pedersen
May 26, 2013 Kirsten Pedersen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Music nerds
Recommended to Kirsten by: Rolling Stone magazine
Jim Derogatis is clearly in awe of his subject, and there is much about this biography to admire as well. Lester Bangs is painted as a troubled rebel and genius, and if you are familiar with Bangs' written work you know that to be true. But the darker aspects of Bangs' life is not ignored. The book is a well written and balanced look at a man who helped to invent modern music journalism.
Ryan
Not a bad read, although a pretty superficial cut. Raised more questions than it answered, but I suppose it did succeed in getting me to want to read more source material. Worth checking out if you have any interest in the history of rock journalism.
Rachelle
Loved this book, thought I learned a lot about the entire evolution of rock criticism and Rock'n'roll and Punk for that matter. A very passionate and inspiring person when it comes to music but a loose cannon with alcohol and pills. Entertaining stories to say the least, he came off like a real asshole at times but you could tell he had a heavy heart and was just trying to find solace.
Dylan
I found this a thoroughly informative and balanced overview of not just Bangs' life, but of the entire evolution of rock criticism. This era's critics collectively pursued - and arguably attained - some higher ideal of journalism that somehow managed to flourish for a number of years before booze and cynicism brought it down around the time Bangs' demise.
I
Sep 13, 2012 I rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: music
Competently researched procession through the surface facts of his life. How entertaining that is depends on how entertained one is by tales of debauched hijinks. Very little insight into his mind as a critic or why he pretty much uniquely stumbled upon championing a lot of what would become the alternative canon of rock music for indie scenes to come.
Linda Hobbs
Interesting only if you are as obsessed with Lester as I once was. Gets slow in some parts, but the in-depth exploration of the times (the days when writers had close inside relationships with the artists) makes the book worth the read. Lester was in a class all by himself, even though his writing was a bit all over the place (IMO) :)
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James "Jim" DeRogatis (born 1964 in Jersey City, New Jersey) is an American music critic. DeRogatis has written articles for magazines such as Spin, Guitar World and Modern Drummer. He is also the Pop Music Critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. He often tries to separate himself from other music critics by promoting bands that have not yet become widely popular, but are close to doing so.

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