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Geoffrey Cannon

Geoffrey Cannon

Geoffrey Cannon was the first ever regular rock critic for a UK daily national newspaper, The Guardian, for whom he wrote a weekly column between September 1969 and the summer of 1972 totalling over 150 pieces, many available here, as originally commissioned by Peter Preston, then features editor, later The Guardian editor. He wrote for other UK periodicals such as Melody Maker when edited by Richard Williams, New Society, Time Out, Zig Zag and — above — Harpers Bazaar (an assessment of Nic Cohn, right in the picture)

He wrote long pieces regularly for the Los Angeles Times thanks to Charles Champlin, and for the Chicago Sun-Times thanks to Bob Zonka and Al Rudis, the Village Voice, the Toronto Globe and Mail,and also for Fusion, Creem and Coast, and regularly for Kleine Zeitung (Austria) thanks to Gerfried Sperl and Rock & Folk (France) thanks to Philippe Paringaux. In the summer of 1972 thanks to Jo Bergman and Derek Taylor he was an official journalist covering the Rolling Stones 1972 US tour.

He interviewed and featured bands and singers, moguls and labels, reviewed concerts and albums, and wrote many think-pieces. Favourites available here include the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, the Band, the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, and Nico, Van Morrison, The Kinks, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and many Californian bands.

When he wrote for The Guardian he was also editor of the BBCtv and Radio journal Radio Times, which then had the highest magazine circulation in all Europe.

He began to write about 'pop music' (as it was then called) in New Society in 1963, in the context of 'pop culture', encouraged by Colin MacInnes and editor Tim Raison. In 1967 he began the first column on rock music for The Listener, commissioned by editor Karl Miller. In 1968 he co-produced films on Jimi Hendrix and the Incredible String Band for Cosmologies, and worked for Granada Television with Jo Durden-Smith, Mike Darlow, Jon Cott and David Dalton dreaming up rock spectaculars, in particular The Doors are Open and Johnny Cash at San Quentin, shown nationally and now classics. In 1970 he directed the Palermo Pop Festival for Italian television (RAI) and the Rolling Stones for Austrian television (ORF). In 1970 he wrote and appeared in London Rock produced by Revel Guest for Metromedia Television (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfDHvpqzmas). As from 1970 he was a regular contributor to BBC Radio London's Breakthrough produced by Steve Bradshaw. More details in his Wikipedia entry.

Bands and singers who were hot in his time as a writer who he often plays now, as well as the Stones, Bob Dylan, and The Velvet Underground, Van Morrison and Joni Mitchell, include the MC5, the J Geils Band and Buffalo Springfield. He has lived in Brazil since 2000, and recommends the Tropicalia period Caetano Veloso, and Belchior.


Geoffrey Cannon looks back on his career as a music writer

79 articles

By Artist | By Date

List of articles in the library by artist

The Band: A Report from Paris

Report and Interview by Geoffrey Cannon, Melody Maker, 5 June 1971

NO DIFFICULTY KNOWING when you've just finished hearing a great rock concert. Because you'll be in the middle of a great crowd of people standing ...

The Band, Bob Dylan: Bob Dylan, The Band: Isle of Wight Festival

Live Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 2 September 1969

The gospel according to Dylan ...

The Band: Listening to The Band

Essay by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 10 October 1970

A NUMBER OF rock music bands have been celebrated, in the past three years, not just as "supergroups," but as bands composed of superlative musicians, ...

The Band, The Beach Boys, Van Morrison: Van Morrison: Tupelo Honey; The Band: Cahoots; The Beach Boys: Surf's Up

Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 29 October 1971

Out of the city ...

The Band, Buffalo Springfield, Country Joe & The Fish, The Doors, Aretha Franklin, MC5, Moby Grape, Nico, Otis Redding, Steppenwolf, Velvet Underground, Frank Zappa: 1968: The Shaken City Walls

Overview by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 24 December 1968

"AN ELECTRIC caterwauling of power... burning it, flashing it, whirling it down some arc of consciousness, the sound screaming up to a climax of vibrations ...

The Band, Bob Dylan: Dylan at Wight: A New Voice and a New Style

Essay by Geoffrey Cannon, Los Angeles Times, 14 September 1969

THE TRAIN carrying us from Waterloo station in London to Portsmouth and the ferry across to the Isle of Wight Festival was full of newly ...

The Beach Boys: California!

Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Listener, The, 22 November 1967

2012 NOTE: In the third (and last) column below written for The Listener in late 1967, I tried to begin to grope towards construction ...

The Beatles: Back to Spring: The Beatles: The Beatles (White Album) (Apple)

Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 26 November 1968

"EARTH, WATER, fire, and air met together in a garden fair," chants Robin Williamson, of the Incredible String Band, in 'Koeeoaadi There'. And if the ...

The Beatles: Back with the real Beatles: The Beatles (White Album) (Apple)

Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 19 November 1968

The Beatles' new album is about to be released. This is the first of two articles on what is likely to be the biggest event ...

The Beatles: Abbey Road (Apple)

Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 8 October 1969

Abbey Road backtrack ...

The Beatles: Too Big For The Band?

Comment by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 25 February 1969

MARY HOPKIN, the film music for Yellow Submarine and Wonderwall, and the Two Virgins album, were all made by Beatles. But they have no other ...

The Beatles, George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr: Ringo Stars: Geoffrey Cannon on the Beatles' Solo Albums

Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 19 December 1970

Ringo Starr: Beaucoups of Blues; Paul McCartney: McCartney; John Lennon: John Lennon Plastic Ono Band; George Harrison: All Things Must Pass ...

The Beatles, Cliff Richard, The Rolling Stones: Pop Music Democratised

Essay by Geoffrey Cannon, New Society, 3 December 1964

Author's note, 2018: Here is my late 1964 insight on the transformation of British pop into rock which can be dated to 21 February 1963 ...

The Beatles, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, The Supremes: Motown Making Millions

Profile by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 1 May 1972

Author's update, 2019. "The Manchester Guardian? That's the best fuckin' newspaper in the world!" So David Crosby told me in early 1969. He had answered ...

Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Billie Holiday, The Rolling Stones: From Pop Singers To Rock Bands

Essay by Geoffrey Cannon, unpublished, 1965

Update, March 2019: I KNOW exactly when I wrote the piece below, where I was, and why I withdrew it from publication. It was January ...

Blind Faith, Johnny Cash, Country Joe & The Fish, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Crosby Stills and Nash, The Doors: New albums from the Doors, Country Joe, Johnny Cash, Creedence, CS&N and Blind Faith

Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 16 September 1969

Finding a new faith: GEOFFREY CANNON reviews pop music ...

Blind Faith, Donovan, Richie Havens: Blind Faith: A Fine Day

Report by Geoffrey Cannon, Village Voice, The, 19 June 1969

LONDON — take a sheet of thin cardboard. Sprinkle iron filings on top. Place a magnet underneath. All the filings will start and shift, and ...

Blood Sweat & Tears: Blood, Sweat and Tears: Blood, Sweat and Tears (CBS)

Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 4 March 1969

BOUND WITH BLOOD AND SWEAT ...

David Bowie: Starman

Profile by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 7 July 1972

Author's note, 2018. WHEN I interviewed Lou in New York in June 1972  he implored me to listen to David Bowie, and especially to 'The ...

Brinsley Schwarz, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Van Morrison: Van Morrison, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Brinsley Schwartz: Fillmore East, New York NY

Live Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 10 April 1970

I WAS ON that New York trip last weekend, too. My brief was to listen to the music. I have to report that as soon ...

John Cale, The Velvet Underground: John Cale: Welsh Underground

Profile and Interview by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 12 April 1971

Author's note, 2018. The Velvet Underground and Nico and to a lesser extent White Light/White Heat are the albums that above all others up to ...

Johnny Cash at San Quentin was my idea

Memoir by Geoffrey Cannon, unpublished, 2004

2018 note: Steve Turner emailed me in 2004 and said he was working on the official biography of Johnny Cash, and had been told that ...

Johnny Cash: Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison (CBS 63308)

Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 12 November 1968

2018 note: The quality and impact of Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison is not because of the songs. It is because of the behaviour and ...

Cream, Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall: Union Jack Blues

Comment by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 21 October 1969

MEETING JANIS Joplin a few months ago, before her Albert Hall concert, I was staggered to feel how nervous she was. Then she explained. She ...

Creedence Clearwater Revival, Steve Miller: Creedence Clearwater Revival: Bayou Country (Fantasy 8387); Steve Miller Band: Sailor (EMI ST 2984)

Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 11 February 1969

Transcending the Blues ...

Crosby Stills Nash & Young: Are We in Tune? No

Essay by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 10 January 1970

Author's note, 2018: The review below was cut by the Guardian. What's here is uncut. Who plays Crosby Stills Nash (and Young) albums now or, ...

The Crystals, The Righteous Brothers, The Ronettes, Phil Spector, Ike & Tina Turner, Muddy Waters: Muddy Waters: Electric Mud (Chess); Various Artists: Demand Performance (Decca)

Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 4 February 1969

Muddy Muddy Waters ...

Bob Dylan: Nashville Skyline (CBS)

Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 22 April 1969

Nashville Skyline man to tell the time by ...

The Everly Brothers: Roots (Warner WS 1752)

Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 21 January 1969

Pulled up by the roots ...

Fairport Convention, The Incredible String Band: Joe Boyd: Freaky Galahad

Profile by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 29 July 1969

"WELL, YOU'D put your arm round its neck, y'know, like this" (demonstrating) "and hold it on the seat next to you, like another person." ...

Family: The Original Family Way

Profile by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 18 March 1969

FAMILY IS the most original and ambitious of the British bands that have not fully emerged from' the club circuit. I first heard them a ...

Family, King Crimson, The Rolling Stones: The Rolling Stones, King Crimson, Family: Hyde Park, London

Live Review by Geoffrey Cannon, New Society, 10 July 1969

2018 author's introduction:  This was the third rock concert filmed by Granada Television for the UK national network in 1968 and 1969, the first two ...

Family, The Rolling Stones: The Rolling Stones in Hyde Park: Out of the Way

Report by Geoffrey Cannon, New Society, 10 July 1969

A world turned upside down ...

Grateful Dead: The Grateful Dead: Hollywood Festival, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire

Live Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 29 May 1970

Disgracing The Grateful Dead ...

Harpers Bizarre: Anything Goes (Pye, WS 1716)

Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 31 December 1968

HOWARD JOHNSON ice-cream parlours, Harvey's hamburgers, Busby Berkeley movies: artificial, sentimental, surface childlike fantasies. Small-town radio stations, high school proms, Frank Capra, George Gershwin, Mickey ...

Jimi Hendrix: Electric Ladyland (Polydor)

Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 5 November 1968

THERE ARE 19 naked ladies on the cover 
of Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland (Polydor 613 008/9). Pictured 
inside, Jimi has a flicker of the lip-licking ...

Jimi Hendrix: Electric Rebel – An Appreciation

Obituary by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 19 September 1970

"THANKS FOR being so patient. Next time we will really try and get it together." Spoken two hours before a cold Sunday dawn, three weeks ...

Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Charles Manson: The Maggot in the Rose

Comment by Geoffrey Cannon, unpublished, 1971

Author's note, 2018: Nobody talked about flower power or summers of love or fun, fun, fun after the Manson and the Altamont murders, followed by ...

Janis Joplin: An Appreciation by Geoffrey Cannon

Memoir by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 6 October 1970

AN EVENING at the Royal Garden Hotel in April, 18 months ago. I was meeting Janis Joplin. I fished around for a while, trying to ...

Janis Joplin: Royal Albert Hall, London

Live Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 29 April 1969

CRYING FOR US ...

Carole King, Little Richard, Paul McCartney: Albums from Paul McCartney, Little Richard and Carole King

Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 21 May 1971

THERE IS NO way to make great rock music from retirement. Paul McCartney may have been seduced — by reading that he's equalled Schubert — ...

Carole King, James Taylor: Carole King — Secret Star on the James Taylor Tour

Report and Interview by Geoffrey Cannon, Los Angeles Times, 15 August 1971

Author's note, 2018: A transcendent moment in Carole King's life was during the evening of 7 December 2015 in Washington. She is sitting next to ...

The Kinks: Arthur

Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 3 October 1969

Arthur and the Empire ...

The Kinks, Barbara Lewis, The Who: Styles of the City

Comment by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 19 August 1969

GEOFFREY CANNON ON POP MUSIC ...

The Kinks, The Mugwumps: The Mugwumps: The Mugwumps; The Kinks: Something Else by the Kinks

Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Listener, The, 14 September 1967

(2019 note) Here is the first of the three pieces I wrote for The Listener, which started me as a rock writer. The second and ...

Little Richard: Electric Circus, New York NY

Live Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 21 January 1971

ST MARK'S PLACE, the high street of New York's East Village, hums with memories these days. Among them, at the new year, was little Richard, ...

Alan Lomax: Making a Science of Man's Music

Profile and Interview by Geoffrey Cannon, Los Angeles Times, 23 January 1972

Alan Lomax, the man who went into the fields of the southern states in the 1930s and brought the glory of the blues to the attention ...

MC5: The MC5 Kick Out The Jams!

Essay by Geoffrey Cannon, Oz, 1 February 1969

2019 note: My Oz episodes — 2. My first piece for Oz, "Why isn't London jumping?", a tirade against the BBC's programming of pop music, ...

Joni Mitchell: Clouds

Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 24 June 1969

JONI MITCHELL has written songs for Tom Rush, and the Fairport Convention have used her songs on both their albums. ...

Joni Mitchell, Graham Nash: Joni Mitchell: Blue (Warner Bros.)

Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 29 June 1971

JONI MITCHELL'S new album, Blue, is about to be released here by Warner Brothers (K 44128). A large proportion of Joni's most notable songs, to date, ...

The Mothers Of Invention: Mother's Rites: Freak Out/Absolutely Free

Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Listener, The, 19 October 1967

2012 NOTE: Here below is the second column I wrote for The Listener in late 1967. It was the first of a number I ...

Neil Young: Harvest

Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Melody Maker, 29 January 1972

Harvest is surely come: Geoffrey Cannon previews NEIL YOUNG's new album Harvest, released next month ...

Nico: I Always Become The Songs That I Sing

Interview by Geoffrey Cannon, unpublished, 7 March 1970

Author's note, 2018: I took Nico to Julie's in Portland Road in 1970. Its style was inspired by Biba. Magnetic people sat around on sofas ...

Nico, The Velvet Underground: Andy Warhol: A Mirror Of American Death

Essay by Geoffrey Cannon, New Society, 13 June 1968

2012 note: Cometh the hour... Paul Barker, the second and last editor of the UK weekly journal New Society, was once asked to speak on ...

Nico, The Velvet Underground: Letter to a Mystified Man

Comment by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 28 January 1969

DEAR Mr Davey — You write a neat letter, and I smiled, too. Last week you wrote to the editor of the Guardian (January 20). "If you ...

Elvis Presley: Madison Square Garden, New York NY

Live Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 17 June 1972

Author's note, 2018: Yes, it started for me with Elvis, when in 1956 I heard a demo of his first RCA record 'Don't be cruel'/ ...

Lou Reed Talking About His First Solo Album

Interview by Geoffrey Cannon, unpublished, July 1972

Author's note, 2018. This was my scoop. New York, June 1972. Lou discusses all the tracks, one by one, in detail and with diversions, on ...

Lou Reed, The Velvet Underground: That Shock Of Recognition Tells You Where He's Been

Interview by Geoffrey Cannon, Chicago Sun-Times, The, 7 February 1971

Author's note, 2018. I met and interviewed Lou Reed twice, in early 1971 and mid-1972, in New York. He gained a reputation for being horrible ...

The Rolling Stones: Jumping Jack Jagger

Comment by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 14 October 1969

THE WIDENING gap between the Beatles and the Rolling Stones has been labelled as the contrast between aesthetics and politics. The difference between the two ...

The Rolling Stones: Rolling Stone Magazine: Ripples from the Stone

Report by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 25 March 1969

FEW REVIEWS can make a first-rank artist doubt his ability at the height of his success. At this level, critics can rarely do more than ...

The Rolling Stones: Our Name is Called Disturbance — The Rolling Stones: Winterland, San Francisco CA

Live Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 28 June 1972

THE ROLLING STONES are on their first US tour since, the wild acclaim of their 1969 trip. In America, GEOFFREY CANNON describes the impact of ...

The Rolling Stones: Rolling Stones and a Rocky Night in Paris

Report by Geoffrey Cannon, Los Angeles Times, 15 November 1970

PARIS — "Funny," said Philippe Paringaux (chief writer for Rock 'n' Folk), "how English freaks refer to pop festivals in Britain as psychedelic concentration camps." ...

The Rolling Stones: Beggars' Banquet (Decca SKL 4955)

Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 10 December 1968

The Stones' carrier wave ...

The Rolling Stones: Exile On Main Street (Rolling Stones Records, COC 2-900)

Review and Interview by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 20 May 1972

MICK JAGGER on record ...

The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers (COC 5910O)

Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 23 April 1971

Sticky fingers gather no moss ...

The Rolling Stones: No Dead Flowers

Essay by Geoffrey Cannon, Fusion, 14 May 1971

For all their irrelevance to politics, ecology and third-world revolution, they continue to be a special kind of fun. ...

The Rolling Stones: The Roundhouse, London

Live Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Los Angeles Times, 2 May 1971

Getting Lots of Satisfaction From Mick, Stones ...

Ike & Tina Turner: Ike and Tina Turner: Olympia, Paris

Live Review by Geoffrey Cannon, Los Angeles Times, 30 May 1971

Author's note, 2018. The piece below describes the Ike and Tina Turner concert at the Olympia, Paris, in May 1971. I prefer Ike and Tina ...

Loudon Wainwright III: Ambassador's Son to Recording Biz Mogul

Interview by Geoffrey Cannon, Los Angeles Times, 14 November 1971

...

List of genre pieces

Bring Back the Single

Comment by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 22 October 1968

A STORY of virtue rewarded: Polydor, tiny in Britain compared with EMI or Decca, sold more LPs in the third quarter of 1968 than any ...

Close-Up: Nik Cohn

Profile by Geoffrey Cannon, Harper's Bazaar, September 1969

Author's note, 2019. The first thing to know about Nic Cohn is that his 1969 book AWopBopaLooBopLopBamBoom: Pop from the Beginning was chosen in 2016 ...

Giorgio Gomelsky: The Pop Paragon

Report by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 22 June 1969

Author's note, 2018. Georgio died in New York in January 2014, aged 81. Everybody with even a passing interest knows that Georgio, whose dark bearded ...

Nesuhi Ertegun: The World Is His Manor

Profile and Interview by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 19 October 1971

GEOFFREY CANNON talks to "the most powerful man in the record business outside America" ...

The arts in society: You're Sick, Daddy

Essay by Geoffrey Cannon, New Society, 25 April 1963

2018 author's note: My very first published piece, written for New Society, of which I was a founder-member of staff as the sub-editor and production ...

The Whirligig of Time

Memoir by Geoffrey Cannon, Rock's Backpages, February 2019

"THE PAST is never dead. It is not even past" rightly said William Faulkner. My time as a regular writer on rock music was half ...

Tom Donahue

Report and Interview by Geoffrey Cannon, unpublished, 17 March 1971

"SO: CLEAN up your face, and mess up your mind, with Tom Donahue!" Chuckling, Tom leans back from the microphone in the BBC Radio London ...

True Sound of Rock

Essay by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 3 December 1968

2019: Thoughts after half a century. The piece below written as rock as a genre and a concept was emerging stands up quite well. As ...

Why Isn't London Jumping?

Essay by Geoffrey Cannon, Oz, December 1968

Update, 2019. My Oz episodes — 1. IN DECEMBER 1968, age 28, I was interviewed for the post of editor of Radio Times, the BBC's ...

The Isle of Wight Festival: Three Shades Of Wight

Overview by Geoffrey Cannon, Guardian, The, 5 September 1970

APART FROM the music, what went on at the Isle of Wight last weekend? Here are the most popular theories. ...

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