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All about El Cajon's Lester Bangs

El Cajon classmates Robert Houghton, Roger Anderson, Andrew Hamlin on Lester; rock writer Richard Meltzer and fellow Creem writer on Lester; Altamont with Lester

Bruce Springsteen and Lester Bangs, 1975. Lester returned to town to spend the Christmas of 1973 with Andrea, who had an apartment in El Cajon. It was a festive time, and Lester wore an expensive new sport coat and much cologne from the many Christmas gifts he got from the Creem staff. He had put on so much weight that he looked obese.
Bruce Springsteen and Lester Bangs, 1975. Lester returned to town to spend the Christmas of 1973 with Andrea, who had an apartment in El Cajon. It was a festive time, and Lester wore an expensive new sport coat and much cologne from the many Christmas gifts he got from the Creem staff. He had put on so much weight that he looked obese.

My high school days with Lester Bangs

Lest anyone think that I have a few bones to pick myself, let me make clear that I wish neither to trash Lester’s personal or literary reputation nor to gild his legend with hyperbole and shaggy-dog stories. I suppose Ed Ward, Greil Marcus, Richard Meltzer, Dave Marsh, John Mendelssohn, Jann Wenner, Robert Christgau, Lou Reed, Debbie Harry, or any number of other people who have known Lester over the years have their own versions of his life story.

By Robert Houghton, July 13, 2000 | Read full article

Lester Bangs at home in NYC, 1981. I get this call from Nick Tosches requesting that I please take Lester, who’d shown up at his door on acid, “off my hands.”

Lester Recollected in Tranquility

One afternoon in ’74 Nick and I met Lester at some ritzy midtown hotel. Though he’d been in the room all of an hour, the smell was like a dog had died there. Consequently, we vetoed his offer to call down for drinks on Creem’s tab, suggesting, to his consternation, that any dump of a bar would be more, uh, whatever. Many of his heterosex liaisons had foundered on the rocks of precisely this issue.

By Richard Meltzer, Dec. 6, 1984 | Read full article

The hard-back Lester Bangs

All through these last pieces you seem to curse yourself for having a love affair with death, and what galls me is that you never had any such love affair with that bag of bones.’ You said to me once, “I’ve decided that everyone is obsessed with something. My obsession is music. Most people are obsessed with themselves,” and you gave me a look I’ll never forget. But the fact is you were right, you loved music more than you loved yourself.

By Roger Anderson, Nov. 26, 1987 | Read full article

Lester Bangs, about 16, in a photo booth (c. 1965). "If you like Lester, you have to like El Cajon because...Lester is El Cajon."

Lester Bangs, El Cajon Kid

These “great man” theorists see Lester as self-made and El Cajon actually was a hindrance. Those of us from El Cajon, especially those who knew him well, have a much more nuanced view of Lester’s El Cajon years. And, we definitely see Lester as a product of El Cajon. If you like Lester, you have to like El Cajon because...Lester is El Cajon. He’s an El Cajon kid. He acts like one. He thinks like one.

By Andrew Hamlin, July 24, 2013 | Read full article

Uhelszki started at Creem magazine the same day as Lester Bangs. She’ll talk about those days at Grossmont on Tuesday, October 6.

What It Was Like to Sit Next to Lester Bangs for Six Years

“He looked like an ‘adult,’ when everybody else looked, well, like members of the MC5 road crew or like slightly demonic hippies. Lester looked like a visiting professor, with neatly trimmed hair and his shined shoes and his over-extended mustache. He was wearing a button-down shirt over a sparkling white undershirt. During his stay, I occasionally spied him actually wearing a suit jacket — he owned one in a Prince of Wales plaid.”

By Andrew Hamlin, Sept. 30, 2015 | Read full article

More fights were going on, and David Crosby was saying, “Let’s try to be brothers and sisters to each other, now, come on!”

Everybody just be cool now

Lester had begun writing freelance for a fledgling but already influential newsprint rag called Rolling Stone. “Just a couple days ago I sent a review of Let It Bleed to my editor." And maybe Rolling Stone’ll have a party for the band after the concert, and maybe we’ll get to go, and maybe they’ll introduce us to Mick and Keith, you know, like, ‘This is Lester, he’s the guy who’s reviewing your new album.’ ”

By Roger Anderson, December 14, 1989 Read full article

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Bruce Springsteen and Lester Bangs, 1975. Lester returned to town to spend the Christmas of 1973 with Andrea, who had an apartment in El Cajon. It was a festive time, and Lester wore an expensive new sport coat and much cologne from the many Christmas gifts he got from the Creem staff. He had put on so much weight that he looked obese.
Bruce Springsteen and Lester Bangs, 1975. Lester returned to town to spend the Christmas of 1973 with Andrea, who had an apartment in El Cajon. It was a festive time, and Lester wore an expensive new sport coat and much cologne from the many Christmas gifts he got from the Creem staff. He had put on so much weight that he looked obese.

My high school days with Lester Bangs

Lest anyone think that I have a few bones to pick myself, let me make clear that I wish neither to trash Lester’s personal or literary reputation nor to gild his legend with hyperbole and shaggy-dog stories. I suppose Ed Ward, Greil Marcus, Richard Meltzer, Dave Marsh, John Mendelssohn, Jann Wenner, Robert Christgau, Lou Reed, Debbie Harry, or any number of other people who have known Lester over the years have their own versions of his life story.

By Robert Houghton, July 13, 2000 | Read full article

Lester Bangs at home in NYC, 1981. I get this call from Nick Tosches requesting that I please take Lester, who’d shown up at his door on acid, “off my hands.”

Lester Recollected in Tranquility

One afternoon in ’74 Nick and I met Lester at some ritzy midtown hotel. Though he’d been in the room all of an hour, the smell was like a dog had died there. Consequently, we vetoed his offer to call down for drinks on Creem’s tab, suggesting, to his consternation, that any dump of a bar would be more, uh, whatever. Many of his heterosex liaisons had foundered on the rocks of precisely this issue.

By Richard Meltzer, Dec. 6, 1984 | Read full article

The hard-back Lester Bangs

All through these last pieces you seem to curse yourself for having a love affair with death, and what galls me is that you never had any such love affair with that bag of bones.’ You said to me once, “I’ve decided that everyone is obsessed with something. My obsession is music. Most people are obsessed with themselves,” and you gave me a look I’ll never forget. But the fact is you were right, you loved music more than you loved yourself.

By Roger Anderson, Nov. 26, 1987 | Read full article

Lester Bangs, about 16, in a photo booth (c. 1965). "If you like Lester, you have to like El Cajon because...Lester is El Cajon."

Lester Bangs, El Cajon Kid

These “great man” theorists see Lester as self-made and El Cajon actually was a hindrance. Those of us from El Cajon, especially those who knew him well, have a much more nuanced view of Lester’s El Cajon years. And, we definitely see Lester as a product of El Cajon. If you like Lester, you have to like El Cajon because...Lester is El Cajon. He’s an El Cajon kid. He acts like one. He thinks like one.

By Andrew Hamlin, July 24, 2013 | Read full article

Uhelszki started at Creem magazine the same day as Lester Bangs. She’ll talk about those days at Grossmont on Tuesday, October 6.

What It Was Like to Sit Next to Lester Bangs for Six Years

“He looked like an ‘adult,’ when everybody else looked, well, like members of the MC5 road crew or like slightly demonic hippies. Lester looked like a visiting professor, with neatly trimmed hair and his shined shoes and his over-extended mustache. He was wearing a button-down shirt over a sparkling white undershirt. During his stay, I occasionally spied him actually wearing a suit jacket — he owned one in a Prince of Wales plaid.”

By Andrew Hamlin, Sept. 30, 2015 | Read full article

More fights were going on, and David Crosby was saying, “Let’s try to be brothers and sisters to each other, now, come on!”

Everybody just be cool now

Lester had begun writing freelance for a fledgling but already influential newsprint rag called Rolling Stone. “Just a couple days ago I sent a review of Let It Bleed to my editor." And maybe Rolling Stone’ll have a party for the band after the concert, and maybe we’ll get to go, and maybe they’ll introduce us to Mick and Keith, you know, like, ‘This is Lester, he’s the guy who’s reviewing your new album.’ ”

By Roger Anderson, December 14, 1989 Read full article

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This is the cover showing an article I wrote for CREEM in 1972: "Rock Music A Commie Plot?" Lester gave me helpful advice on the piece, and told me to do a rewrite (which I did). Then they published it.

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June 8, 2016

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