Richard Meltzer

From Academic Kids

Richard Meltzer was one of the earliest rock music critics. His first book wasThe Aesthetics of Rock, which evolved out of his undergraduate studies in Philosophy at SUNY at Stony Brook and graduate studies at Yale University. At school, he developed a reputation as something of a prankster, although his actions were closer to the spirit of performance art happenings promoted by one of his professors, Allan Kaprow, than to fraternity hijinks. One of his actions involved sending a tape recorder to class with his comments for the day on tape. Fellow student Sandy Pearlman was responsible for pushing the button. Meltzer also dabbled in art, including "detourned" comic books in the style of the French Situationist Movement, which had various objects added to the pages.

Meltzer, along with Sandy Pearlman, and several other students earned some money on the side by acting as booking agents for the big musical acts which came to Stony Brook on a regular basis in the 60s. Following that, the two started writing lyrics and arranging gigs for a musical group they were promoting: Soft White Underbelly, later renamed Blue Öyster Cult. He recommended the umlaut on the 'Oyster', thus starting the heavy metal umlaut trend.

Meltzer started his career in 1967 writing for Paul Williams' Crawdaddy! magazine.

During the punk rock era he formed a band called VOM and released a four-song 7-inch EP which includes the unforgettable "Electrocute Your Cock."

In the 1980s he dabbled in architectural criticism by writing a series of articles in the LA Reader weekly tabloid on the subject of the ugliest buildings in Los Angeles; these pieces were later published as a book. He moved to Portland in the 1990s, but continued contributing to the San Diego Reader. He was also a regular columnist for Addicted to Noise.

Books

  • The Aesthetics of Rock (1970)
  • Gulcher: Post-Rock Cultural Pluralism in America (1972)
  • 17 Insects die in your heart (1982)
  • Frankie, Part 1 (Talltales Series) (1984)
  • Post-Natal Trash (Caned Out: The Authorized Autobiography of Richard Meltzer) (1984)
  • Prickly Heat and Cold (Caned Out Series) (1984)
  • Richard Meltzer's Guide to the Ugliest Buildings of Los Angeles (1984)
  • Frankie, Part 2 (Talltales Series) (1987)
  • Boat Ride Down the Maguire (Caned Out Series) (1987)
  • L.A. Is the Capital of Kansas: Painful Lessons in Post-New York Living (1988)
  • Tropic of Nipples (1995)
  • The Night Alone: A Novel (1995)

External links

  • Richard Meltzer profile (http://www.laweekly.com/ink/02/30/is-bemis2.php) (Alec Hanley Bemis, Is Rock Criticism Dead, June 2002)
  • Richard Meltzer interview (http://www.furious.com/perfect/meltzer.html) (Jason Gross, Perfect Sound Forever, August 2000)
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