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Episode 126 : Robert Duncan & Jaan Uhelzski on Lester Bangs + Creem + Suicide

2 May 2022

In this episode we mark the 40th anniversary of the death of arguably the greatest — and certainly the most "almost famous" — writer in the history of music journalism.

Two of Lester Bangs's closest Creem colleagues (both wonderful writers in their own right) join us from California to reminisce about the man and his work. Jaan Uhelszki, who started in the Creem office the same day as Lester, gets the ball rolling by putting Detroit's "anti-Rolling Stone" in context. Robert Duncan, who arrived two years later in 1974, adds his recollections of "America's only rock'n'roll magazine" [sic] before paying tribute to Lester. Respect, laughter and sadness ensue as Robert & Jaan discuss their friend's gonzoid genius, his exasperating foibles and the addiction that killed him at 33, six years after Robert persuaded him to move to New York.

Seminal New York duo Suicide — beloved of Bangs — are the subjects of the week's new audio interview, clips from which feature pioneering electropunks Alan Vega & Martin Rev talking in 1998 about their "confrontational" live act, their introduction of the word "punk" into NYC's music scene in 1971… and Vega's love of British comedy The Full Monty!

Finally, Mark talks us through his highlights among the articles recently added to the RBP library, including pieces about the Righteous Brothers, Laura Nyro, Jeff Beck at the Fillmore East, Pharoah Saunders and England's miserable Bickershaw festival. Barney notes a 1988 Paul Morley rumination on, yes, music journalism… and Jasper quotes from a John Doran "review" of Aphex Twin's Collapse.

Watch a video clip from this recording

Many thanks to special guests Robert Duncan and Jaan Uhelszki; you can visit Robert's website at duncanwrites.com and find more of Jaan's writing on her RBP writer's page.