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John Swenson

John Swenson

John Swenson has been writing about popular music since 1967. He edited the award-winning website jazze.com for Knit Media and has worked as an editor at Crawdaddy, Rolling Stone, Circus, Rock World, OffBeat magazine and been published in virtually every popular music magazine of note over that time. He was a syndicated music columnist for more than 20 years at United Press International and Reuters. Swenson has written 14 published books including biographies of Bill Haley, the Who, Stevie Wonder and the Eagles and co-edited the original Rolling Stone Record Guide with Dave Marsh. He is also the editor of The Rolling Stone Jazz and Blues Album Guide. In another role Swenson is a veteran sports writer who covered the New York Rangers for 30 years, writing pieces for outlets from Rolling Stone to the Associated Press. Swenson is also a veteran horseracing columnist and handicapper who covered the New York racing scene as a columnist for the New York Post and the New Orleans Fair Grounds meet for The Daily Racing Form. His profile on jockey Steve Cauthen, "Rise To Stardom, Fall From Grace" in Spur magazine was nominated for an Eclipse Award.

John Swenson on life in the Circus

John Swenson's 'Music on My Mind' blog

List of articles in the library by artist

Al Kooper, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Mose Jones: Southern Rock: Gone With The Trend

Report and Interview by John Swenson, Crawdaddy!, July 1975

Al Kooper may not give a damn, but with Lynyrd Skynyrd hot and the Atlanta Rhythm Section burnin', Southern Music is rising again. ...

Bachman Turner Overdrive: BTO II (Mercury)

Review by John Swenson, Zoo World, August 1974

BACHMAN TURNER Overdrive emerged as one of the best new groups of 1973, and their debut album was the best work to come out of ...

The Band, Bob Dylan: Dylan and The Band Return with Planet Waves

Report by John Swenson, Circus, April 1974

When Dylan took the lid off the box he was hiding in, he made the conditions for peeping in very difficult. Now Bob Dylan doesn't ...

Jerry Butler: Power Of Love (Mercury)

Review by John Swenson, Zoo World, May 1974

JERRY BUTLER is unquestionably the King of Chicago-style cool R&B (the name Ice Man didn't come for nothing – at a time when Pickett epitomized ...

Canned Heat: One More River To Cross

Review by John Swenson, Zoo World, March 1974

CANNED HEAT is one of those groups who hang on by the skin of their teeth, jumping over a spate of mediocre albums from success ...

Chicago: What Do You Think They'll Call Their Seventh Album?

Interview by John Swenson, Crawdaddy!, February 1973

It all began when, after my particularly scathing review of Chicago V appeared in the October Crawdaddy, I received the following telegram from Bobby Lamm, ...

Christine McVie: Christine McVie (Warner Brothers)

Review by John Swenson, Creem, May 1984

FOR YEARS Christine McVie has been Fleetwood Mac's hidden strength. Though the addition of the carbonated California pop of Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks in ...

Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band, Kraftwerk, Ralph MacDonald, Giorgio Moroder, Parliament, Silver Convention, Donna Summer: Disco Doesn't Have to Mean Dull

Overview by John Swenson, Circus, March 1978

International Technical Geniuses Discover Disco's Possibilities ...

Dr. John: Dr John: Finally In The Right Place

Interview by John Swenson, Crawdaddy!, June 1974

From Gris Gris to Gumbo to the Top of the Charts, with "goofer dust an' powders an' oils an' sachets an' lotions an' candles an' ...

Electric Light Orchestra, Steve Hillage: Electric Light Orchestra/Steve Hillage: Madison Square Garden, New York City

Live Review by John Swenson, Rolling Stone, February 1977

THIRTEEN YEARS after the Beatles played their first American concert at Carnegie Hall, the Electric Light Orchestra pads a headlining set at Madison Square Garden ...

Fabulous Thunderbirds: The Fabulous Thunderbirds: Walk That Walk, Talk That Talk (Epic)

Review by John Swenson, Rolling Stone, October 1991

IT'S HARD TO imagine the fabulous Thunderbirds without founding member Jimmie Vaughan. ...

The Fatback Band, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, Smokey Robinson, The Sylvers: Smokey Robinson/Mighty Clouds of Joy/Sylvers/Fatback Band: Los Angeles

Live Review by John Swenson, Sounds, March 1976

YOU WON'T find a better textbook example of what's gone wrong with R&B over the past few years. Ticket prices, scaled from $10.00 down, were ...

Fleetwood Mac: Rumours

Review by John Swenson, Rolling Stone, April 1977

ROCK & ROLL HAS this bad habit of being unpredictable. You never can tell when a band will undergo that alchemic transmigration from lead to ...

Peter Frampton Comes And Gets It

Report and Interview by John Swenson, Crawdaddy!, May 1976

NEW YORK – Peter Frampton seems an unlikely hero. Soft-spoken, he projects something of a folk ambiance, not the glitter/stud machismo characteristic of so many ...

Genesis: No 'Pale' Imitation

Profile and Interview by John Swenson, Crawdaddy!, March 1974

Genesis combines surreal songwriting with an interesting instrumental and visual approach. Lead singer Peter Gabriel notes: "We all took courses in pretentiousness." ...

Tom T. Hall: For The People In The Last Hard Town (Mercury)

Review by John Swenson, Zoo World, April 1974

TOM T. HALL is unquestionably one of the finest country music songwriters ever to pick up a pen or belt down a double shot of ...

Keef Hartley: Lancashire Hustler (Deram)

Review by John Swenson, Zoo World, December 1973

THE BRITISH Blues Process is an ongoing phenomenon with its share of well publicized superstars, but for every Ten Years After and Savoy Brown are ...

Humble Pie: Lost And Found — The Tasty Tale of Humble Pie's Softest Slice

Profile and Interview by John Swenson, Circus, December 1972

Once upon a time a raunchy shouter named Steve Marriott used to stand shyly in the wings asking if it was time to go onstage. ...

Jesse Winchester: Studio Six Concert, Montreal, Quebec

Live Review by John Swenson, Rolling Stone, December 1976

THE ATMOSPHERE AT the small Montreal studio was so much like a living room's that it was hard to believe it was anything more than ...

Jethro Tull: Thick As A Brick

Review by John Swenson, Crawdaddy!, August 1972

THE NEW Tull package is clever, very, and complicated enough to sustain interest over an extended series of listenings. Most albums can be assimilated in ...

Jimmie Vaughan, Stevie Ray Vaughan: Jimmie Vaughan: Picking Up the Pieces

Interview by John Swenson, Rolling Stone, February 1991

After the death of his brother, Jimmie Vaughan carried on ...

Mott The Hoople: Mott the Hoople: The Hoople (Columbia)

Review by John Swenson, Crawdaddy!, July 1974

IT'S TOUGH being a rock and roll star these days. Ask Ian Hunter, Mott the Hoople's lead singer and group dictator. After five years of ...

Neil Young: Hawks and Doves (Warner Bros.)

Review by John Swenson, Creem, February 1981

I DON'T KNOW what Neil Young had in mind when he made this record, but its timing is so weirdly appropriate it's spooky. ...

The Ramones: Ramones (Sire)

Review by John Swenson, Crawdaddy!, August 1976

DA RAMONES: NO MERCYBEATS ...

Return to Forever, Stanley Clarke: Stanley Clarke Returns To Forever (For Now)

Interview by John Swenson, Rolling Stone, February 1977

NEW YORK — Stanley Clarke sits attentively behind the mixing board in Electric Lady's Studio B, concentrating a dispassionate producer's gaze on Roy Buchanan in ...

Santana: The Ice Cream Man Cometh

Interview by John Swenson, Crawdaddy!, July 1976

LACROSSE, WISC – "Everything OK with the Dip?" ...

Boz Scaggs: Slow Dancer (Columbia)

Review by John Swenson, Crawdaddy!, June 1974

SLOW DANCER is Boz Scaggs' fifth album, and you have to wonder when he's going to start repeating himself, because none of them sound the ...

Toots & The Maytals, The Who: The Who, Toots & The Maytals: Summit Hockey Arena, Houston TX

Live Review by John Swenson, Sounds, November 1975

THE WHO began the American portion of their world tour in characteristic fashion – opening up Houston's Summit Hockey arena to rock 'n' roll. ...

Stevie Ray Vaughan 1954-1990

Obituary by John Swenson, Rolling Stone, October 1990

STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN has died, and with him goes the spirit of Jimi Hendrix once again. Vaughan was linked to Hendrix throughout his playing life. ...

The Who Plunge Into Madness With Quadrophenia

Profile and Interview by John Swenson, Circus Raves, March 1974

GIVEN THE SITUATION that the average life span of a successful rock group is less than two years, the Who have set some kind of ...

The Who Puts the Bomp

Comment by John Swenson, Crawdaddy!, December 1971

WHO NIGHT. The crowd waits reverently, attention vaguely focused on the massive half-ton fortress of amplifiers looming in the shadows of the dimly lit stage. ...

The Who: Madison Square Garden, New York NY

Live Review by John Swenson, Sounds, March 1976

IT'S AN old joke, but it's still happening so it must mean something. There we were eating the meat loaf special at the local watering ...

Womack and Womack: Radio M.U.S.C. Man (Elektra)

Review by John Swenson, Spin, October 1985

THE WOMACK FAMILY is giving the Jacksons a run for their money. Radio M.U.S.C. Man is, in fact, the most impressive musical reunion since the ...

Frank Zappa: America's Weirdest Rock Star Comes Clean

Interview by John Swenson, High Times, March 1980

FRANK ZAPPA is probably the most misunderstood man in the history of popular music. ...

Frank Zappa: The Myth Of Joe's Garage

Interview by John Swenson, Rolling Stone, December 1979

I'M STANDING ON the loading platform at L.A. International Airport at 2:30 in the morning, listening to a prerecorded voice that keeps repeating "...the white ...

Frank Zappa: The Frank Zappa Interview

Interview by John Swenson, Guitar World, March 1982

FRANK ZAPPA was at the Palladium in New York for his perennial Pumpkin Day concert celebration with his most loyal fans. ...

List of genre pieces

Rock Dreams/Schemes: The History of Crawdaddy(!)

Retrospective by John Swenson, Crawdaddy!, March 1976

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 ...

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