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A Lester Bangs Chronology

 

Foreword: 1904–1948 (Texas) 

PART 1: 1948–1971 (California and Arizona)

PART 2: 1971–1976 (Detroit, Michigan)

PART 3: 1976–1982 (Manhattan, New York and Austin, Texas)

POSTHUMOUS: 1982–present

 

 
 

 

 

Foreword: 1904–1948 (Texas)

 

1906

Sep. 14 Norma Belle Clifton born, Pecos, Texas
 

 

   
 

1915

Aug. 25 Conway Leslie Bangs born, Enlow (Dallas), Texas
 

 

   
 

1935

Jan. 15 Conway Leslie Bangs sentenced for assault with intent to murder
 

 

Feb. 05 Conway Bangs begins serving a ten-year sentence in Huntsville, TX
 

 

   
 

1945

Sep. 11 Conway Bangs completes his prison sentence; is released
 

 

   
 

1947

  Conway Bangs and Norma Belle Clifton wed in a Jehovah's Witness church and move to Escondido, CA
 

 

   
 

 

 

Part 1: 1948–1971 (California and Arizona)

 Lester Bangs in 1948

1948

Dec. 13 Leslie Conway "Lester" Bangs, born 10:58 p.m. in Escondido, California
 

 

   
 Lester Bangs in 1951

1951

Jan. Norma moves with Lester into a small apartment on the Mexican border, to take work as a cook on a ranch
 

 

Dec. Norma, Conway and Lester move to Perris, California for work on the Palomar Ranch
 

 

   
 Lester Bangs in 1953

1953

  Lester begins joining mother Norma in her proselytizing campaigns in downtown San Diego
 

 

   
 Lester Bangs in 1955

1954

  jobs at Palomar Ranch come to an end
 

 

   
 Lester Bangs in 1956

1956

  Family moves to Glendale, Arizona to take jobs at Orne Ranch School
 

 

   
 

1957

  Conway and Norma Bangs separate, and Conway returns to the California and takes work as a truck driver
 

 

Aug. 05 Conway Bangs burns to death in an Escondido house fire; Norma and Lester leave Arizona and return to California
 

 

  Lester enters the 4th Grade at Lincoln School
 

 

   
 Lester Bangs in 1960

1960

  Family moves to El Cajon, CA
 

 

  Lester buys his first Miles Davis album; reads Catcher In the Rye; Burroughs; Kerouac; Ginsberg; Charles Mingus
 

 

   
 

1961

Summer Lester takes summer school class in Creative Writing and Drama
 

 

Sep. Lester enters the 8th Grade
 

 

   
 

1962

Sep. Starts freshman year at El Cajon Valley High School
 

 

   
 Lester Bangs in 1963

1962—1965

  becomes an active member of the drama and speech clubs
 

 

  meets friends Roger Anderson and Rob Houghton
 

 

  continues to take interest in Creative Writing, literature, and English
 

 

  takes up smoking
 

 

  discovers Alistair Crowley
 

 

  meets first girlfriend, Andrea di Guglielmo
 

 

   
 Lester Bangs in 1965

1965

May competes (as a high school student) in a regional Speech and Debate tournament at Grossmont Junior College
 

 

   
 

1965—1966

  contributed writings to El Cajon Valley High School's Smoke Signal
 

 

   
 Lester Bangs in 1966

1966

Jun. graduates high school
 

 

  announces intention to study Journalism at Grossmont Junior College
 

 

   
 Lester Bangs in 1967

1967

Jan. Lester is classified available for military service, and enrolls in Grossmont College as a full-time student to avoid draft
 

 

Jun. gets his first car (1955 Plymouth)
 

 

  takes road trip to Northern California
 

 

  discovers over-the-counter drugs, with friend Roger Anderson
 

 

  begins life-time abuse of Romilar
 

 

  meets Jack Butler and Jerry Raney of Thee Dark Ages
 

 

  plays harmonica on selected songs during their live shows
 

 

  moves into an apartment with his new roommates in El Cajon
 

 

   
 Lester Bangs in 1968

1968

Jan. discovers Velvet Underground's "Sister Ray"
 

 

Mar. witnesses a Hell's Angel rape next door
 

 

  completes a draft of a novel that includes an account of the rape
 

 

Apr. presents the scene to his Creative Writing class, which is met with harsh criticism of his lack of action to help—Lester is crushed by the experience and drops out of school
 

 

Summer/Fall Lester has a nervous breakdown
 

 

  begins to purchase and write about records as a form of occupation therapy
 

 

  sees an actual therapist
 

 

  registers for San Diego State College
 

 

Sep. enrolls in San Diego State College, to become a teacher; enrolls in literature and writing courses
 

 

   
 Lester Bangs in 1969

1969

Apr. 05 Publishes his first review in issue #30 of Rolling Stone Magazine: "MC5 – Kick Out The Jams."
 

 

Oct. with friends Houghton and Anderson, meets Lou Reed backstage at Whiskey-a-Go-Go in Los Angels
 

 

  Rolling Stone fly Lester to Oakland, to meet Greil Marcus; Lester spends the weekend in Berkeley with Marcus and friend Langdon Winner
 

 

Oct. 21 Jack Kerouac dies; Lester falls into depression
 

 

   
 Lester Bangs in 1970

1970

Spring Alan Ginsberg comes to San Diego State College; meets Lester
 

 

  Takes a job at Streicher's Shoes in Mission Valley Shopping Center begins dating Debbie Rachac
 

 

Sep. 17 Publishes a Coltrane review in local alternative newspaper The Teaspoon Door
 

 

Oct. is fired from Streicher's Shoes
 

 

  sends his first record review to Rolling Stone
 

 

   
 Lester Bangs in 1971

1971

Sep. Lester flies out to Detroit to interview Alice Cooper; a two-week planned stay turns into two months    
 

 

Nov. Lester returns to El Cajon to collect belongings and moves to Detroit to take the position of assistant editor at Creem
 

 

   
 

 

   
 

 

 

Part 2: 1971–1976 (Detroit, Michigan)

 

1971

  Bangs meets Richard C. Walls
 

 

Nov. Andy diGuglielmo visits Walled Lake; breaks up with Lester
 

 

   
 Lester Bangs in 1972

1972

Mar.-Jul. Walled Lake Creem offices fall under FBI surveillance
 

 

Jun. 08 garners attention of the music critics with a Rolling Stone essay on Janis Joplin's early death
 

 

Summer Lester and Patti Smith meet
 

 

Fall Creem offices moved to Birmingham, MI, on the 2nd Floor of the old Birmingham Theatre Building
 

 

  Lester has a brief affair with Judy Linn, Smith's best friend
 

 

   
 Lester Bangs in 1973

1973

Spring meets Dori
 

 

May 26-28 Bangs attends 1st Annual National Association of Rock Writers Convention, Memphis, TN
 

 

Jun. 07 Publishes a scathing Canned Heat review in Rolling Stone Magazine; is subsequently fired (banned) by editor Jann Wenner
 

 

Jul. Bangs publishes "Deaf Mute In a Telephone Booth: A Perfect Day with Lou Reed"
 

 

Fall Dori tells Lester she's pregnant; has abortion
 

 

Dec. Bangs returns to San Diego for the holidays; meets Cameron Crowe
 

 

   
 Lester Bangs in 1974

1974

Feb. 08 Joins J. Geils band on stage, with his typewriter; writes his review, "My Night of Ecstasy With the J. Geils Band" (published in Creem August 1974)
 

 

Spring Bangs, Tosches and Meltzer attend a Rock Critics Symposium in Buffalo, NY
 

 

  John Morthland joins Creem staff
 

 

Winter Nancy Alexander meets Lester
 

 

   
 Lester Bangs in 1975

1975

Mar. publishes “Let Us Now Praise Famous Death Dwarves" in Creem (March 1975)
 

 

Summer Lou Reed releases Metal Machine Music; Richard Meltzer departs to Los Angeles
 

 

  Bangs and Peter Laughner record the Creem Office Sessions
 

 

   
 Lester Bangs in 1976

1976

Feb. Bangs visits Jamaica
 

 

  meets Andy Shernoff of The Dictators
 

 

  visits CBGBs for the first time
 

 

   
 

 

   
 

 

 

Part 3: 1976–1982 (Manhattan, New York and Austin, Texas)

 Lester Bangs in 1976

1976

Fall Lester and Nancy move to 542 Sixth Ave., Manhattan, NYC writes for The Village Voice
 

 

   
 Lester Bangs in 1977

1977

Spring proposes Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung book
 

 

  Nancy and Lester break up
 

 

May 05 The Lester Bangs Conspiracy is Lester's first performance at a Punk Magazine benefit at CBGBs
 

 

  Bangs meets Richard Quine at CBGBs
 

 

Jun. "Let It Blurt" sessions are recorded, with John Cale and Richard Quine
 

 

Jul. 13 experiences New York City blackout, with Bill Nelson
 

 

  Bangs follows the UK Clash "Get Out of Control" tour for six days
 

 

   
 Lester Bangs in 1978

1978

  Nancy moves to the Bronx
 

 

  begins meeting with therapist Phil Sapienza for counseling
 

 

  Lester dates: Jean Holabird; Cynthia Heimel; Susan Toepfer; Galen Brandt; Debra Rae Cohe
 

 

  forms Birdland with Mitch Hyman (Mickey Leigh)
 

 

   
 Lester Bangs in 1979

1979

  "Let It Blurt" / "Live" released on SPY Records
 

 

Apr. 01 sneaks into Electric Lady Studios with Mickey Leigh and records the Birdland sessions
 

 

Nov. Birdland disbands over mounting tensions within the group
 

 

Dec. 17 The Village Voice prints "White Noise Supremacists"
 

 

   
 Lester Bangs in 1980

1980

  publishes Blondie (Is a Group)
 

 

  moves to Austin, Texas
 

 

  contributes to Contempo Culture fanzine
 

 

  discovers The Delinquents and meets bassist Brian Curley
 

 

Oct.-Nov. Lester Bangs and The Delinquents perform gigs in the Austin music scene
 

 

  Bangs and the Delinquents record eleven tracks at Earth and Sky Studios (Austin)
 

 

  for Jook Savages On the Brazos
 

 

Oct. 11 Bangs is arrested in Austin, Texas, for drunken and disorderly conduct
 

 

Nov. briefly "dates" Veronica Sullivan
 

 

Nov. 21 performs with Talking Heads at The 'Dillo [a.k.a. The Armadillo]
 

 

Dec. 08 John Lennon is killed
 

 

   
Lester Bangs in 1981 

1981

Jan. 29 Creem editor Barry Kramer dies
 

 

Apr. joins Alcoholics Anonymous; Jim Fouratt becomes Bangs's AA sponsor
 

 

Fall

Paul Nelson and Lester Bangs publish Rod Stewart biography

 

 

 

Jook Savages On the Brazos is released

 

 

  Norma Bangs's health declines
 

 

Nov. visits San Diego for the first time in fifteen years
 

 

   
 Lester Bangs in 1982

1982

Jan. Stephanie Hill interviews Lester for a fashion piece in The Village Voice
 

 

Feb. visits mother Norma Bangs, in San Diego; meets with Richard Meltzer
 

 

Mar. 13 Norma Bangs dies; Lester returns to San Diego for the funeral
 

 

Apr. Lester finishes manuscript for Rock Gemorrah
 

 

Apr. 30 Lester Bangs dies from an accidental overdose of Darvon
 

 

   
 

 

   
 

 

 

Posthumous: 1982–present

1982

May 02 Lester's body is cremated
May 03 Memorial service at Redden's Funeral Home
May 07 Ben Catching takes Lester's ashes back to California
Bangs Memorial Tribute Reading flier May 15 colleagues stage a tribute to Lester at St. Mark's Church, East  Village, NY, with readings by Billy Altman, Georgia and Robert Christgau, Richard Hell, Legs McNeil, Nick Tosches, and others, with recordings of Richard Meltzer
 Greil Marcus

1988

Sep. 12 Greil Marcus publishes Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung
 

 

   
 

1990

  Catching releases Lester's ashes into the Pacific Ocean
 

 

   
 Jim Derogatis

2000

Apr. 18 Jim DeRogatis publishes Bangs biography Let It Blurt
 

 

   
 Cameron Crowe

2001

Nov. 01 Cameron Crowe writes the screenplay for Almost Famous; casts Philip Seymour Hoffman in the role of Lester Bangs (released 2001)
 

 

   
John Northland

2003

Aug. 12 John Morthland publishes Mainlines, Blood Feasts and Bad Taste: A Lester Bangs Reader
 

 

   
 Lester Bangs Memorial Reading flier

2009

Sep. 17 Grossmont College Creative Writing Program holds its first annual Lester Bangs Memorial Reading
 

 

   
 Lester Bangs

2010

May 08 Grossmont College Lester Bangs Archive is launched
 

 

May 21 Grossmont College Foundation recognizes Lester Bangs with bronze plaque in its "Walk of Fame"
 

 

   
 Raul Sandelin

2013

Oct. 22 Raul Sandelin's biographical documentary A Box Full of Rocks: The El Cajon Years of Lester Bangs makes its San Diego debut
 

 

   
 2016 Ticket to Write poster

2016

Jul. 22 Raul Sandelin's rock journalism documentary, Ticket To Write: The Golden Age of Rock Music Journalism, premieres in San Diego
 
 
   
Last Updated: 08/20/2016
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