Lester Bangs

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Lester Bangs was a legendary rock critic, journalist, author, and musician best known for his essay collection ‘Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung.’ His readers frequently describe him as a humorous, egomaniacal, sardonic, and witty individual due to his prose style. He is compared to legendary figures such as Dan Clowes and Axl Rose and is renowned for having led an eventful life, both in terms of what he desired and what he accomplished. He was one of the most influential rock music critics, contributing columns to publications such as ‘Rolling Stone’ and ‘Creem’. He began his career in a very humble manner, as a freelance writer. However, his career took off, and while he was known for his candor and unafraid use of language, it was his humorous tones that captured the imagination of both the public and critics. Additionally, he contributed to magazines such as ‘Playboy,’ ‘New Musical Express,’ and ‘Penthouse.’ While on sabbatical, he pursued a parallel music career and wrote essays, as he was both a musician and an author. Continue reading if you’re interested in learning more about this illustrious figure.

Childhood & Adolescence

Lester Bangs was born in Escondido, California, to Norma Belle and Conway Leslie Bangs. As his mother was a devout Jehovah’s Witness, he was brought up in an extremely religious household. Bangs’ father, a truck driver, died tragically in a fire mishap when he was very young.

Career of Lester

Bangs began his career as a freelance writer in 1969, after responding to an advertisement in ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine seeking reader reviews. As his first assignment, he penned a review for MC5’s ‘Kick out the Jams’ album.

The magazine published the review, and he soon began contributing regularly to the publication. He then contributed an essay on Janis Joplin’s untimely demise, garnering the attention of magazine critics and readers. He was fired from ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine in 1973 after writing a critical review of ‘Canned Heat’.

He then joined ‘Creem,’ where he contributed articles and essays and took on the role of editor. However, his prospects at ‘Creem’ appeared bleak, and he left to write for a variety of other publications, including ‘New Musical Express,’ ‘Penthouse,’ and ‘Playboy.

In 1975, he published an essay titled ‘Let Us Now Praise Famous Death Dwarves’ about his idol, Lou Reed, which established him as a humorous and satirical writer.

He climbed onto the stage during the ‘J. Geils’ concert and wrote a full review of their performances in full view of the audience, on the stage. Not only was this deemed strange, but critics lauded him for his audacity and devotion to ‘rock n roll’ music.

Apart from being a rock music critic, he was a self-taught musician. He and ‘Peter Laughner’ recorded an acoustic improvisation in his office. He worked on his music for a couple of years and released his first solo single, ‘Let it Blurt/Live’, in 1979 to lukewarm reviews from music fans.

In 1980, he traveled to Texas and met the group known as the ‘Delinquents.’ He began recording songs with the group and released an album titled ‘Jook Savages on the Brazos,’ which quickly gained widespread popularity.

He collaborated with Mickey Leigh in 1981, and their sole album was released in 1986, four years after his death.

Lester Bangs contributed his voice as lead singer to one of the songs on the EP F.U.N. 90 by the British rock band The Mekons in 1990.

Significant Works of Lester

One of his most well-known works, ‘Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung,’ is a collection of his essays published in 1987, just a few years after his death. Not only did this publication chronicle the famous music critic’s early articles and essays, but it also provides insight into his personal life and that of his idol, ‘Lou Reed,’ and is widely regarded as his magnum opus.

Personal History and Legacies

He died in New York City as a result of an accidental overdose of Valium, NyQuil, and Darvon. He has been mentioned numerous times in songs since his death, including ‘It’s the End of the World as We Know It’ and ‘It’s Not My Place’. Additionally, he is mentioned in Legs McNeil’s biography ‘Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk’.

‘Let it Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America’s Greatest Rock Critic’ by Jim Derogatis was published in 2000.

Estimated Net Worth

The net worth of Lester is $14million.


This well-known American rock critic was portrayed by Philip Seymour Hoffman in the 2000 film ‘Almost Famous.’