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Reference Desk

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)



Sep. 14 Norma Belle Clifton born, Pecos, Texas




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




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




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




  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


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


 Lester Bangs in 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


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


 Lester Bangs in 1955


  jobs at Palomar Ranch come to an end


 Lester Bangs in 1956


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




  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


  Family moves to El Cajon, CA


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




Summer Lester takes summer school class in Creative Writing and Drama


Sep. Lester enters the 8th Grade




Sep. Starts freshman year at El Cajon Valley High School


 Lester Bangs in 1963


  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


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




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


 Lester Bangs in 1966


Jun. graduates high school


  announces intention to study Journalism at Grossmont Junior College


 Lester Bangs in 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


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


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


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


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)



  Bangs meets Richard C. Walls


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


 Lester Bangs in 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


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


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


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


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


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


 Lester Bangs in 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


  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


  "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


  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 


Jan. 29 Creem editor Barry Kramer dies


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



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


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


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


Sep. 12 Greil Marcus publishes Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung




  Catching releases Lester's ashes into the Pacific Ocean


 Jim Derogatis


Apr. 18 Jim DeRogatis publishes Bangs biography Let It Blurt


 Cameron Crowe


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


John Northland


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


 Lester Bangs Memorial Reading flier


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


 Lester Bangs


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


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


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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