Nick Tosches  

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"In a mixed review of Transformer for Rolling Stone magazine, Nick Tosches highlighted four "quality" songs, including "Satellite of Love" but dismissed most of the album as "artsyfartsy kind of homo stuff" that lacks assertiveness." --Sholem Stein

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Nicholas P. Tosches (October 23, 1949 – October 20, 2019) was an American writer, music critic, journalist, novelist, biographer, and poet. His 1982 biography of Jerry Lee Lewis, Hellfire, was praised by Rolling Stone magazine as "the best rock and roll biography ever written."


Tosches was born in Newark, New Jersey on October 23, 1949. His surname originated from Albanian settlers in Italy, known as Arbëreshë; his grandfather emigrated from the village of Casalvecchio di Puglia to New York City in the late 19th century.

According to his own account, Tosches "barely finished high school". He did not attend college but was published for the first time in Fusion magazine at 19 years old. He also held a variety of jobs, including working as a porter for his family's business in New Jersey, as a paste-up artist for the Lovable underwear company in New York City, and later, in the early 1970s, as a snake hunter for the Miami Serpentarium, in Florida. A fan of early rock and roll and "oddball" records, he wrote for several rock music magazines, including Creem and Rolling Stone. He was also reviews editor for Country Music magazine. He has been described as "the best example of a good rock journalist who set out to transcend his genre and succeeded," and as someone who "along with Lester Bangs, Richard Meltzer and a handful of other noble notables from the era... elevated rock writing to a new plateau." He was fired by Rolling Stone for collaborating with Meltzer in filing record reviews under each other's byline.

Tosches' first book, Country: The Biggest Music in America (later retitled Country: The Twisted Roots of Rock and Roll), was first published in 1977. It was followed in 1982 by Hellfire, a biography of Jerry Lee Lewis, and in 1984 by Unsung Heroes of Rock 'n' Roll: The Birth of Rock in the Wild Years Before Elvis. He subsequently wrote biographies of the singer and entertainer Dean Martin, the Sicilian financier Michele Sindona, the heavyweight boxer Sonny Liston, the country singer Emmett Miller, and the racketeer Arnold Rothstein.

Tosches worked as a contributing editor of Vanity Fair magazine. His work was also published in Esquire and Open City. He published four novels, Cut Numbers (1988), Trinities (1994), In the Hand of Dante (2002), and Me and the Devil (2012); and a collection of poetry, Chaldea and I Dig Girls (1999). He also worked on Never Trust a Loving God, a book he did in collaboration with his friend the French painter Thierry Alonso Gravleur. He described his literary influences as "Hesiod, Sappho, Christopher Marlowe, Ezra Pound, William Faulkner, Charles Olson, and God knows who else." A compendium, The Nick Tosches Reader, collects writings from over the course of his career.

Tosches was featured on the Travel Channel show Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations in the episode "Disappearing Manhattan", in which he and Bourdain shared a drink at Sophie's in the East Village, a Manhattan dive bar, and discussed the changing nature of the city.

Tosches died on October 20, 2019, at his home in Manhattan, three days before his 70th birthday.

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

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