Bangs immersed himself into the subject of his writing—he lived the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and was considered a peer to the artists he wrote about. In turn, his writing was honest and matched the excesses, energy and passion of rock ‘n’ roll music. He is considered a visionary of rock writing—Charles Bukowski and Jack Kerouac rolled into one. His criticism often was filled with cultural references of music, literature and philosophy and his writing was brash, yet intellectual.
“The appeal of Lester shares a lot with Kerouac: that innocence and goodwill and drive to describe and be true to what matters in life. Lester, like Kerouac, reads like a real good friend to a lot of people.” Said punk rock pioneer Richard Hall in a 2003 Village Voice article.
Bangs became the editor the rock ‘n’ roll magazine CREEM in 1971. Under his leadership, the magazine led the punk rock movement and was the first to write about the then up-and-coming music scene. Many claim the magazine—with Bangs’ at the helm—helped conceptualize and invent punk rock. In the 70’s, Bangs was also one of the first—years before the mainstream press—to give massive exposure to artists who would become 1980's icons like David Bowie, Blondie, Kiss and Motörhead. Bangs left Creem Magazine in 1977 and moved to Manhattan, where he became a contributor to the Village Voice. He considered his writings from this period to be some of his finest work and he started researching and writing his book, "Rock Gomorrah." He died from an accidental drug overdose at the age of 33—he was listening to Human League’s album Dare.
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Logo photo by Craig Schwartz.