Crawdaddy (magazine)

Crawdaddy was an American rock music magazine launched in 1966. It was created by Paul Williams, a Swarthmore College student at the time, in response to the increasing sophistication and cultural influence of popular music. The magazine was named after the Crawdaddy Club in London and published occasionally during its early years with an exclamation point, as Crawdaddy![1]

According to The New York Times, Crawdaddy was "the first magazine to take rock and roll seriously",[2] while the magazine's rival Rolling Stone acknowledged it as "the first serious publication devoted to rock & roll news and criticism".[3] Preceding both Rolling Stone and Creem, Crawdaddy was the training ground for many rock writers just finding the language to describe rock and roll,[4][5] which was only then beginning to be written about as studiously as folk music and jazz.[6] The magazine spawned the career of numerous rock and other writers. Early contributors included Jon Landau, Sandy Pearlman, Richard Meltzer and Peter Knobler.[7]

After Williams left Crawdaddy in 1968, the magazine was edited by Knobler from 1972 until its last issue in 1979.[4] From 1993 to 2003 Williams self-published a Crawdaddy reincarnation. In 2006 it was sold to Wolfgang's Vault and later resurrected as a daily webzine.[8] Effective August 5, 2011, visits began redirecting to the music website Paste, which announced that Crawdaddy "relaunches as a blog on Paste, where we’ll share stories from the Crawdaddy archives and publish new content on legacy artists".[9]

EditorPaul Williams, Peter Knobler
FounderPaul Williams
Year founded1966
Final issue1979
Based inSwarthmore College, Pennsylvania; New York, NY

Fanzine roots

Named after the legendary Crawdaddy Club in England at which the Rolling Stones played their first gig, Crawdaddy was started on the campus of Swarthmore College. Williams was a science fiction fan who at the age of 17 started mimeographing and distributing a collection of criticisms (at first mostly his own) about rock and roll music and musicians. (He had begun publishing a science fiction fanzine, Within, at the age of 14, and later recruited some of his fellow fans to help.)[10][11] Crawdaddy quickly moved from its fanzine roots (the first issue was mimeographed by fellow fan Ted White) to become one of the first rock music "prozines", with newsstand distribution.[12]

You are looking at the first issue of a magazine of rock and roll criticism. Crawdaddy will feature neither pin-ups nor news-briefs; the specialty of this magazine is intelligent writing about pop music....

—Issue No. 1, February 7, 1966

Mass market magazine

Crawdaddy briefly suspended publication in 1969, then returned, with its title unpunctuated, in 1970, as a monthly with national mass market distribution, first as a quarterfold newsprint tabloid, then as a standard-sized magazine. Crawdaddy continued through the decade, led by editor-in-chief Peter Knobler (who first wrote for the original Crawdaddy under Williams in October 1968),[4][13] with senior editor Greg Mitchell, featuring contributions from Joseph Heller, John Lennon, Tim O'Brien, Michael Herr, Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, P.J. O'Rourke and Cameron Crowe, plus a roster of columnists including at times William S. Burroughs, Paul Krassner, David G. Hartwell, the Firesign Theater, and sometimes Paul Williams himself. While on the run from the law, Abbie Hoffman was Crawdaddy 's travel editor.

As the decade progressed, the Crawdaddy staff included Timothy White (later, an editor of Billboard), Mitch Glazer, Denis Boyles, Noe Goldwasser, Bruce Malamut, John Swenson and Jon Pareles, plus notable freelance photographers including David Gahr, Francesco Scavullo, and Ed Gallucci. Because of such notable talent, Crawdaddy has been described as the Buffalo Springfield of the rock magazine world.

Crawdaddy was a generational magazine known for its well-written, insightful profiles particularly of musicians, but also a diverse mix of filmmakers, athletes, politicians, comedians and other celebrities prominent in 1970s pop culture, including Sly Stone, Bob Marley, the Who, Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones, Mel Brooks, John Belushi, Jack Nicholson, Gregg Allman, Muhammad Ali, Joni Mitchell, Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, Roxy Music, Little Feat, George Carlin, Randy Newman, Paul Butterfield, Brian Eno and Roy Orbison. Under Knobler, Crawdaddy's editors often assigned artists to write about other artists; Al Kooper profiled Steve Martin, Martin Mull interviewed Woody Allen, William S. Burroughs talked magic, mysticism and Aleister Crowley with Jimmy Page.[14][15]

The magazine's record reviews, capsule reviews and film reviews sections, driven by editors Goldwasser, Malamut and Swenson, shared an iconoclastic reputation that was well known by the music and film industries for its fierce independence.

Crawdaddy's features section regularly covered scenes from New Orleans funk to Austin, Texas' cosmic cowboys to Scientology, est and disco. Its renowned sense of humor produced the Crawdoodah Gazette, The Whole Earth Conspiracy Catalogue and "The Assassination Please Almanac".

In 1976 the magazine published the first in-depth article on the life and bizarre death of country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons, anticipating the wealth of information published about him in later years. Greg Mitchell went on to write various books concerning U.S. political events.

Discovers Bruce Springsteen

Among Crawdaddy's scoops: the first major profile of Bruce Springsteen, written in December 1972[16] by Peter Knobler with special assistance from Greg Mitchell. "He sings with a freshness and urgency I haven't heard since I was rocked by 'Like a Rolling Stone,'" Knobler wrote. Knobler's Crawdaddy discovered Springsteen in the rock press and was his earliest champion.[4] Springsteen and the E Street Band acknowledged by giving a private performance at the Crawdaddy 10th Anniversary Party in New York City in June 1976.[17] Knobler profiled Springsteen in 1973, 1975 and 1978.

Rename and closure

Under Peter Knobler's editorship from 1972 to 1979, Crawdaddy's focus expanded to cover more general aspects of popular culture, particularly politics, sports and movies, and in 1979 the magazine changed its title to Feature. When the music business retrenched, Feature lost much of its advertising revenue, and after five issues at the beginning of 1979 it ceased publication. Knobler went on to collaborate on numerous best-selling books, including the political memoir All's Fair by James Carville and Mary Matalin and the autobiographies of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon, Governor Ann Richards, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton, Sumner Redstone, and Tommy Hilfiger.

Later relaunches

Paul Williams reclaimed the punctuated title in 1993, publishing 28 issues until financial pressures forced him to end its run in 2003. In 2006 Williams sold the rights to the Crawdaddy name as well as all of his published works in back issues and a handful of his authored books to Wolfgang's Vault. In May 2007, the magazine was re-launched as an online publication at, equipped with video and MP3 capability. Credited for its reputation for "thinking man's music writing" by Magnet, Crawdaddy operated as a daily music news blog and source for longform music journalism, with a team of freelancers spanning the globe and a small San Francisco-based editorial staff headed by Editor-in-Chief Angela Zimmerman, who succeeded Jocelyn Hoppa. At the film, music and culture website, where Crawdaddy appeared as a blog on August 5, 2011, the host site undertakes to import and maintain the Crawdaddy archive, and promises to continue to post not only archival but new material from "many of the columnists and writers you might have enjoyed at the Crawdaddy website".[9]

The magazine's content spanned the entire age of rock 'n' roll from its inception (and all of the genre's derivatives) to extensive coverage on new and breaking bands. Regular columns and features included interviews, reviews, song histories, lyrical dissections, interviews on songwriting, roadie tales courtesy of Dinky Dawson, new classics, music and politics, crate diggers, the weakest cut, memoir and fiction pieces, in-house video sessions and interviews, and more.

Very Seventies

Peter Knobler and Greg Mitchell edited the book Very Seventies: A Cultural History of the 1970s from the Pages of Crawdaddy,[18][19] published in 1995.

In popular culture

In the 1979 movie Rock 'n' Roll High School, the character Riff Randell (P. J. Soles) is seen reading an issue.

The Simpsons episode "A Midsummer's Nice Dream" (season 22, episode 16; airdate March 13, 2011) features a scene with Homer in the attic reminiscing to Bart about the 1970s, while sitting amongst stacks of old Crawdaddy magazines.

The magazine has been also referenced by Mystery Science Theater 3000, such as in the episode "The Skydivers" (in a gag about a reporter "covering the event" for Crawdaddy, although the movie predates the founding of the magazine) and the episode "The Incredible Melting Man" (in a gag about a very 1970s woman having a collection of back issues).


  1. ^ Vitello, Paul (March 31, 2013). "Paul Williams, Father of Rock Criticism, Is Dead at 64". The New York Times. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  2. ^ NY Times, June 9, 1976
  3. ^ Fricke, David (April 30, 2009). "Rockers Reach Out to Pioneering Music Critic". Rolling Stone (1077). p. 26. Cited in "Crawdaddy Founder Paul Williams Asks for Help". April 21, 2009. Archived from the original on April 27, 2009. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d Peter Knobler on Crawdaddy
  5. ^ Paul Williams interview Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Williams interview Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Crawdaddy back issues. Archived version of issue #8". March 1967. p. 3. Retrieved 2009-05-20. Issue #8 from March 1967. See page 3 for Table of Contents, showing authors. Also issue #19, page 3.
  8. ^ Archived 2008-12-19 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ a b Post at
  10. ^ Williams interview
  11. ^ Fanzines
  12. ^ Ticket to Write : The Golden Age of Rock Music Journalism, directed and written by Raul Sandelin(New York: Road Ahead Productions, April 27 2016)
  13. ^ Crawdaddy archives
  14. ^ Publishers Weekly review
  15. ^ "Rock Magic", Crawdaddy, June 1975
  16. ^ "History of Crawdaddy". Retrieved 2010-03-21.
  17. ^ Crawdaddy Party Mirrors Magazine, NY Times, June 9, 1976
  18. ^ Very Seventies: A Cultural History of the 1970s from the pages of Crawdaddy
  19. ^ "Very Seventies" Table of Contents

Further reading

External links

Avatar (newspaper)

Avatar was an American underground newspaper published in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1967-1968. The newspaper's first issues were published from the headquarters of Broadside magazine in Cambridge.

Black Mountain Side

"Black Mountain Side" is an instrumental by the English rock band Led Zeppelin. It was recorded at Olympic Studios, London in October 1968 and is included on the group's 1969 debut album Led Zeppelin.

Central Park be-ins

In the 1960s, several "be-ins" were held in Central Park to protest against various issues such as U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War and racism. This park was a place where all of the different types of people that New York contained could mingle.

Christopher North (Ambrosia)

Christopher Reed North (born January 26, 1951) is the founding keyboardist for the American progressive rock band Ambrosia.

Ed Gallucci

Ed Gallucci (born 1947) is an American photographer currently living in Virginia.

Giant Steps (book)

Giant Steps: The Autobiography of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Bantam Books, 1983) is a best-selling book by basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Written with former Crawdaddy magazine editor Peter Knobler, it covers Abdul-Jabbar's career, his conversion to Islam, his social growth, and his feelings about American racial politics. The title Giant Steps pays tribute to the 1960 album of the same name by jazz musician John Coltrane.

Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell (born 1947) is an American author and journalist who has written twelve non-fiction books on United States politics and history of the 20th and 21st centuries. His latest book, published by Crown in October 2016, is The Tunnels: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill. From 2009 to 2016 he blogged on the media and politics for The Nation, where he closely covered WikiLeaks. He co-produced the acclaimed 2014 film documentary "Following the Ninth," about the political and cultural influence of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

In three recent books, he has addressed issues of the relations between the press and government, especially related to the conduct of the 21st-century United States wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was the editor of Editor & Publisher (E&P) (2002 through 2009), which covers the news and newspaper industry. His book, The Campaign of the Century (1992), about Upton Sinclair's run for governor of California and the rise of media politics, received the 1993 Goldsmith Book Prize for journalism. It was adapted by PBS as a documentary episode for its seven-part series on The Great Depression (1993). In addition, it was adapted as a vaudeville-style musical and received an award in California in 2006 for musical theatre.

Mitchell was editor of Nuclear Times magazine (1982 to 1986), and became interested in the history of the United States' use of the atom bomb during World War II. He addressed issues related to this in a 1996 book co-written with Robert Jay Lifton, "Hiroshima in America," and a later book "Atomic Cover-up." Mitchell served as senior editor of Crawdaddy magazine in the 1970s.

Hey Jealousy

"Hey Jealousy" is a song by the American rock band the Gin Blossoms. The song was included in the group's debut album Dusted (1989), and then was re-recorded on their breakthrough 1992 album New Miserable Experience. It was written by lead guitarist Doug Hopkins, who was fired from the band shortly after the recording of the second album. It became their first Billboard Top-40 single in 1993, reaching number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 24 on the UK Singles Chart.

Maxwell's Silver Hammer

"Maxwell's Silver Hammer" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their 1969 album Abbey Road. It was written by Paul McCartney, although credited to Lennon–McCartney. "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" is a pop song with dark, eccentric lyrics about a medical student named Maxwell Edison who commits murders with a hammer. The lyrics are disguised by the upbeat, catchy, and rather "childlike" sound of the song. The recording sessions for the track were an acrimonious time for the Beatles, as McCartney pressured his bandmates to work at length on the song. John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were vocal in their dislike of the song. Author Ian MacDonald began his description of the song by saying, "If any single recording shows why The Beatles broke up, it is 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer.'"

Mitch Glazer

Mitchell A. "Mitch" Glazer (born 1953) is an American movie producer, writer, and actor.

Paul Christie (voice actor)

Paul Anthony Christie (born 1951) is an American voice actor. He was born and raised in Manhattan. Over his long career Paul has worked as an artist, writer, narrator, and comedian, as well as a voice actor. In the 1970s Christie was a contributing editor for Crawdaddy magazine. In the 1980s he performed stand up in and around New York and was a founding member of the improvisational group The House Band. His graphic artwork was well known in New York through Kid Christie, the company he co-founded with Theresa Fiorentino. As a writer Christie co-wrote the albums "Midnight at the Lost and Found", and "Blind before I Stop" for the rock star Meatloaf. He is probably best known over the past 35 years as a voice artist. Over his career Christie has done thousands of commercials for clients including Chrysler, Dominoes, Pontiac, Canon, Calvin Klein and Budweiser. His award-winning role as "Louie the Lizard" for Budweiser, became an advertising legend.

Christie's career in animation and children's video and television is far reaching. Recently he created the character of Vinnie, the wise guy panda, for Fox's Biscuits in England. At home in the U.S., he created the character of Zook for CTW's "Zook and Allison". Some other well known roles include Carr in Adult Swim's "Stroker and Hoop", and the handsome Ram in Disney's "Brother Bear".

As a narrator Christie has worked extensively for Discovery, the Nature series on PBS, as well as A&E, History, Biography, and many others. For Nature, his credits include the six-part series "Deep Jungle", as well as "Owl Power", "Killers in Eden", and "Can Animals Predict Disaster" among others. Presently he narrates both long running Discovery series "Gold Rush", and "Dual Survival".

His true home away from home though has been Nickelodeon. In the 1990s Christie voiced Stick Stickly for Nick's ground breaking "Nick in the Afternoon" created by Agi Fodor and Karen Kufflick. Stick endures to this day as Nick is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary. On Nick Jr. (formerly Noggin) Christie voiced Moose A. Moose from April 7, 2003 until March 1, 2012, and just voiced the new Nick app for kids online.

Christie was also the NY President of the Screen Actors Guild from 2003-2007. During that same time frame he also served as the 2nd National Vice President of the Guild. He served on the Board of Directors from 2000-2009.

Peter Knobler

Peter Knobler (born 1946) is an American writer living in New York City. He has collaborated on several national best sellers and was the editor-in-chief of Crawdaddy magazine from 1972 to 1979.

Peter Stafford

Peter Stafford (April 11, 1939 – July 20, 2007) was an American writer and author of the Psychedelics Encyclopedia. Stafford is also co-author with Bonnie Golightly of LSD: The Problem-solving Psychedelic, as well as other books on psychedelics.


Rapeman was an American noise rock band founded in 1987 and disbanded in 1989. It consisted of Steve Albini (formerly of Big Black) on guitar and vocals, David Wm. Sims (formerly of Scratch Acid) on bass and Rey Washam (formerly of Scratch Acid and Big Boys) on drums. Their sound was also described as post-hardcore.

Sandy Pearlman

Samuel Clarke "Sandy" Pearlman (August 5, 1943 – July 26, 2016) was an American music producer, artist manager, music journalist and critic, professor, poet, songwriter, and record company executive. He was best known for founding, writing for, producing, or co-producing many LPs by Blue Öyster Cult, as well as producing important albums by The Clash, The Dictators, Pavlov's Dog, Space Team Electra, and Dream Syndicate; he was also the founding Vice President of He was the Schulich Distinguished Professor Chair at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University in Montreal, and from August 2014 held a Marshall McLuhan Centenary Fellowship at the Coach House Institute (CHI) of the University of Toronto Faculty of Information as part of the CHI's McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology.

Set You Free This Time

"Set You Free This Time" is a song by the American folk rock band The Byrds, written by band member Gene Clark and first released in December 1965 on the group's Turn! Turn! Turn! album. According to Clark, the song was written in just a few hours during The Byrds' 1965 British tour, after a night spent carousing with Paul McCartney at the Scotch of St James club in London. The song's lead vocal is performed by Clark, who also plays acoustic guitar and harmonica on the track. "Set You Free This Time" concerns the breakup of a relationship and Clark's vocal inflections and densely worded lyrics suggest the influence of Bob Dylan. The song also has a vague country rock feel to it, largely due to the song's melody and Clark's harmonica solo. The chord progression and rhythm of the song, however, are atypical of country music.

Following its appearance on the Turn! Turn! Turn! album, the song was issued as the A-side of a single on January 10, 1966. However, initial sales were relatively poor, with the single only managing to reach #79 on the Billboard Hot 100. As a result, Columbia Records in America began promoting the single's B-side "It Won't Be Wrong" instead, which resulted in the single eventually climbing to #63. In the UK, after a review in the NME stated that the B-side was better than "Set You Free This Time", CBS Records went a step further and actually re-released the single with "It Won't Be Wrong" as the A-side. This re-issuing of essentially the same single twice within two weeks caused confusion among British radio DJs over which of the two songs they should play and contributed to the single's failure to chart. To accompany its UK release as a single, the BBC commissioned a short promotional film from The Byrds. However, on the day of filming a physical altercation occurred between the band's manager Jim Dickson and rhythm guitarist David Crosby and although some footage was shot, the clip was never aired.Despite its lack of commercial success, the single release of "Set You Free This Time" gained mostly positive reviews in the music press. The first edition of Crawdaddy! magazine described it as "a lovely, moving song with Dylan-like 20-syllabal lines deckful of well chosen words." In the UK, Penny Valentine was complimentary in her review of the song for Disc magazine, commenting "On first play, I didn't like it – but now I do. It's rather unByrd-like and very, very Dylan-like. It's slow and gentle and rather sad about never being a person who had much, and though she laughed at him and has now come for help, he doesn't hold a grudge. Ahh!" The Beatles' drummer, Ringo Starr, reviewing the single for Melody Maker, commented "I only heard it the other day. They can do no wrong in my book. Great record, man, I love the voices."During February 1966, The Byrds performed "Set You Free This Time" on the U.S. television programs Hollywood A Go-Go, Where The Action Is, The Lloyd Thaxton Show, and Shivaree. However, the song disappeared from the band's live concert repertoire following Clark's departure from the group in March 1966. During his solo career, Clark would often return to the song in live concerts and consequently, it appears on his live albums In Concert and Silverado '75: Live & Unreleased. The Byrds' recording of "Set You Free This Time" is included on several of the band's compilation albums, including The Original Singles: 1965–1967, Volume 1, The Essential Byrds, There Is a Season, and the expanded and remastered edition of The Byrds' Greatest Hits. It has also been included on the Gene Clark compilations, Echoes, American Dreamer 1964–1974, Flying High, and Set You Free: Gene Clark in The Byrds 1964–1973.

Soul Kitchen (song)

"Soul Kitchen" is a song by the Doors from their self-titled debut album The Doors. It is the tribute to the soul food restaurant Olivia's in Venice Beach, where Jim Morrison often stayed for a long time, for it reminded him of his home. Because he stayed late, the staff would often kick him out, thus the lines "let me sleep all night, in your soul kitchen."According to rock critic Greil Marcus, "Soul Kitchen" is the Doors' version of "Gloria" by Van Morrison, a song the Doors often covered in their early days. Marcus writes, "It was a staircase–not, as with "Gloria" in imagery, but in the cadence the two songs shared, slowed down so strongly in "Soul Kitchen" that a sense of deliberation, so physical that it was more body than thought, became the guiding spirit of the song. In a 1967 article in Crawdaddy! magazine, Paul Williams compared it to "Blowin' in the Wind" since both songs had a message, with the message of "Soul Kitchen" being "Learn to forget." He praised the song: "The End” is great to listen to when you’re high (or any other time), but “Soul Kitchen” will get you high, which is obviously much cruder and more important."In an AllMusic review, Richie Unterberger praised the song's "stomping rock".Along with many other songs by the Doors, this song appeared in the Forrest Gump film. It also appeared in the 2003 documentary Mayor of the Sunset Strip.According to the sheet music published at by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, the song is composed in the key of A Major with Jim Morrison's vocal range spanning from E4 to A5.

Step On Out

Step On Out is the 10th country studio album (12th total) from American country music quartet The Oak Ridge Boys, released in 1985. It contains the #1 singles "Touch a Hand (Make a Friend)" and "Little Things", as well as the #3 single "Come On In (You Did the Best You Could Do)". The title song was co-written by Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member and former Byrds bass player Chris Hillman and former Crawdaddy magazine editor Peter Knobler. "Staying Afloat" would be covered two years later by Sawyer Brown on their self-titled debut album.

Underground Garage

Underground Garage is the name shared by two related but different radio outlets, a syndicated show and a satellite radio station, both created and supervised by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt to present rock 'n' roll and garage rock on radio. Both outlets play a mixture of garage rock both old and new, and the music which influenced today's garage rock. On both the Sirius XM channel and on the syndicated show, one song is regularly proclaimed as "The Coolest Song in the World This Week."

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