Nick Tosches in 1997
Photo: Louis MONIER/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images
Music Journalist Nick Tosches Dead At 69
Music journalist and biographer Nick Tosches passed away yesterday, Oct. 20, at age 69, The New York Times reports. He profiled the likes of Debbie Harry, Dean Martin and Jerry Lee Lewis, wrote for publications including Rolling Stone, Creem and Vanity Fair and published several biographies and novels over the course of his career.
RIP Nick Tosches. One of the truly great dark wizards of words. We’ve re-released my talk with him from 2015. Take him in. Read him. https://t.co/kegjxqMLVv
— marc maron (@marcmaron) October 20, 2019
Known as one of the three "Noise Boys," along with fellow unorthodox music writers Richard Meltzer and Lester Bangs, Tosches was fascinated with celebrity and the shadows it creates. As The Times notes, his 1992 book on Martin, "Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams," was "one of his most attention-getting biographies."
"Recordings, movies, radio, television: He would cast his presence over them all, a mob-culture Renaissance man," he wrote of Martin in "Dino." "And he would come to know, as few ever would, how dirty the business of dreams could be."
"I would describe Dean as a noble character in an ignoble racket in an ignoble age," Tosches told The New York Times back in 1992. "Life is a racket. Writing is a racket. Sincerity is a racket. Everything's a racket."
He had fun while he was at it—at times, he would write reviews for non-existent albums, or without listening to them. His infamous review of Black Sabbath's 1970 album Paranoid didn't really talk about the music, but instead Satanism and Charles Manson. It was rumored that he didn't listen to the album before writing the review. According to Variety, he hacked his online biography to mark his death at 2021, because it was the anniversary of Dante's death in 1321.
His books also include 1982's "Hellfire: The Jerry Lee Lewis Story," 2000's "Nick Tosches Reader," which collects the first three decades of his work and 2002's "In The Hand Of Dante," a novel about author Dante and a protagonist named Nick Tosches.