Paul Williams: The Godfather of Rock Criticism

Rock criticism has been around since before I was born. I thank Paul Williams for that. Rock criticism splices together my two passions, writing and music. Throughout the years, what I want to do with those passions has evolved and opened new doors. I occasionally critique albums or songs (and sometimes write reviews), but I never really considered myself a music critic. I am more interested in telling the stories of the artists and analyzing the intersection of music and culture and life. But Crawdaddy! magazine, founded by Williams, served as the stepping stone for all meaningful writing on rock and roll and pop music. Williams passed away yesterday, but his contribution to the world makes him a legend—to many, a greater legend than the musicians featured in his magazine.

Here’s what Williams wrote in the introduction to the first issue of Crawdaddy!, dated February 7, 1966:

“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. … Crawdaddy believes that someone in the United States might be interested in what others have to say about the music they like.”

Williams was right. People were interested in what others had to say about the music they like. These days, I’m not sure how true that is. But it doesn’t stop me.

Issues from the first two-years of Crawdaddy! are accessible here.

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