Richard Meltzer

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Richard Meltzer is considered to be one of the original rock critics. He began his career as a writer for the seminal magazine Crawdaddy and has also written for publications such as Rolling Stone, the…
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Richard Meltzer is considered to be one of the original rock critics. He began his career as a writer for the seminal magazine Crawdaddy and has also written for publications such as Rolling Stone, the Village Voice, and Creem. He has also published several books. His first, The Aesthetics of Rock, came out in 1970. Nevertheless, he is probably less known for his writing than for cultivating his own persona as a rock critic, through scathing critiques of the industry and iconoclastic behavior. The latter often included launching into personal narratives in reviews -- which had a tenuous relationship to the album in question -- or even writing about albums he had never heard. He also often sprinkled his pieces with textbook philosophy (he had been kicked out of the graduate philosophy program at Yale) and reportedly he and Nick Tosches even reviewed albums under each other's bylines, trying to emulate each other's styles. Along the way, Meltzer has had close associations with Lester Bangs (the late critic whose posthumous celebrity status Meltzer has cast aspersions upon), Patti Smith, Jefferson Airplane, and Minutemen. He has also penned lyrics for Blue Öyster Cult (including "Burnin' for You") and lived with the group for a time. While Meltzer has published works outside the field of music (including novels), fronted an L.A. punk group (Vom), and claimed during different periods to be ignoring rock music entirely, he is primarily -- in most cases, solely -- known as a rock critic. A Whore Just Like the Rest: The Music Writings of Richard Meltzer (2000), collects much of his work, including his 1967 piece Pythagoras the Cave Painter, purported to be the first American feature on Jimi Hendrix.