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Nik Cohn

Writer and music critic

Nik Cohn is an Irish writer, the father of rock writing and an epic chronicler of street culture over fifty years. Born in 1946 to a historian father and a mother who’d escaped the Russian Revolution to become a Dadaist muse, Cohn had his first epiphany at the age of ten, where he heard a jukebox blast out “Tutti Frutti”. He wrote his first novel, Market (1965), when he was eighteen. Four years later, he published Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom (1969), a definitive saga of rock ‘n roll, written with arrogance, boldness and speed. Thereafter, his prowess at pinball inspired The Who’s Tommy; his mythic rock novel I Am Still the Greatest Says Johnny Angelo (1967) influenced Ziggy Stardust; and his article “Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night” (1976) became the basis for Saturday Night Fever. Much later, Cohn admitted that the character of Tony Manero was purely his own invention. The film’s success made him rich and almost destroyed him. He became an addict who spent three years trying and failing to write a single paragraph. After a notorious drug bust, he healed himself and embarked on a series of celebrated books about street dreamers around the world, their stories and self-mythologies. In essence they are love songs, like all his work. Triksta (2005), for example, is as much about his lifelong doomed romance with New Orleans as about its nominal subject: the city’s rap scene pre-Katrina. Now 72, an underground hero, still consumed by the same hungers, Cohn is currently completing Dirty Pictures, his monumental saga of the myths and delusions of our age.

Update: 8 April 2019



Has participated in

Primera Persona 2019

Autobiographic Live Sessions: Tragicomic Monologues, Pop Music, Theatre and Narrative