Richard Meltzer  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Richard Meltzer (born May 11, 1945) was one of the earliest rock music critics. His first book was The Aesthetics of Rock, which evolved out of his undergraduate studies in Philosophy at the State University of New York 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.Template:Fact 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 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 kickstarting the heavy metal umlaut trend.

Meltzer started his career in 1967 writing for Paul Williams' Crawdaddy! magazine. That year, he also taught a class in Aesthetics at the Maryland Institute College of Art.

During the punk rock era, he formed a band called VOM and released a four-song 7-inch EP which includes "Electrocute Your Cock." VOM claimed to be the first punk rock band to be banned from the Whiskey.Template:Fact Meltzer also produced a student movie filmed at Malibu, The Pike in Long Beach, and a beach side sewage treatment plant in El Segundo, with future Mau Maus guitarist Mike Livingston playing air-guitar, and other members who would evolve into The Angry Samoans. The film for "Electrocute Your Cock" shows Meltzer in the shower with jumper cables attached to his crotch, and sparks hand-drawn onto the film cels simulating electrocution. Also included was a beach-side clip for "Punkmobile." The film is included in The Angry Samoans' posthumous 1995 VHS compilation, True Documentary Video.

In the 1980s, Meltzer dabbled in architectural criticism, writing a series of articles for the LA Reader tabloid on the ugliest buildings in Los Angeles; these pieces were later published as a book. He moved to Portland, Oregon in the 1990s, but continued contributing to the San Diego Reader. He was also a regular columnist for Addicted to Noise, and by 2004 he was a contributor to a new weekly, Los Angeles CityBeat. He has also performed and recorded over the past decade with the improvisational music group Smegma.

He is the uncle of professional wrestling writer Dave Meltzer.


  • The Aesthetics of Rock (1970)
  • Gulcher: Post-Rock Cultural Pluralism in America (1972)
  • 17 Insects Can Die In Your Heart: Good verse and bad from Richard Meltzer's golden decade (1968-83) (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) (unpublished)
  • The Night Alone: A Novel (1995)
  • Holes: A Book Not Entirely About Golf (1999)
  • A Whore Just Like the Rest: The Music Writings of Richard Meltzer (2000)
  • Autumn Rhythm: Musings on Time, Tide, Aging, Dying, and Such Biz (2003)

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Richard Meltzer" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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