Crawdaddy magazine founder Paul Williams, often credited for helping establish the field of rock music criticism in the mid-1960s, died Wednesday at age 64 from complications related to a 1995 bicycle accident.
Williams’ wife, musician Cindy Lee Berryhill, confirmed her husband’s death in a post on Facebook, telling followers, “It was a gentle and peaceful passing.”
Williams, according to a note on his official website, “suffered a traumatic brain injury in a bicycle accident, leading to early onset of dementia, and a steady decline to the point where he now requires full-time care. The burden on his immediate family has been immense.”
Crawdaddy predated Rolling Stone by more than 18 months when Williams mimeographed and distributed the first edition on Feb. 7, 1966, while a 17-year-old student at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. The fledgling magazine carried some of the first articles by such writers as Jon Landau, Sandy Pearlman, Richard Meltzer and Peter Knobler, and included the first major interview with Bruce Springsteen in 1972.
Williams’ note in the first issue read, “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.”
“Billboard, Cash Box, etc., serve very well as trade news magazines; but their idea of a review is a hard-driving rhythm number that should spiral rapidly up the charts just as (previous hit by the same group) slides,” the note continued. “Crawdaddy believes that someone in the United States might be interested in what others have to say about the music they like.”
Crawdaddy took its name from the Crawdaddy Club in England, famous as the site of the Rolling Stones’ first show.
In 1968, Williams left the magazine he’d started and went on to write more than two dozen books, then resuscitated Crawdaddy for a latter-day run from 1993 to 2003. Wolfgang’s Vault bought it in 2006, and continued to publish it as a daily webzine, and in 2011, Paste took over the Crawdaddy name and began reviving “stories from the Crawdaddy archives and publish[ing] new content on legacy artists.”
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