John Kordosh, Creem Editor, Chemist, Pop Culture Critic, Dies
This is a ridiculously sad story to have to write, but my friend and Creem editor John Kordosh passed away suddenly last night, and everyone in my immediate writing circle is devastated by the loss of one of the greats. A father of two sons, one of whom got married last year in New York City, he started his career as a chemist in the 70s, started writing for Creem in 1980, made the move to LA before returning to his first love, Chemistry. Since then he had freelanced at Yahoo Music, till his shocking death yesterday.
The outpouring of grief for the popular and extremely funny man has been overwhelming, I myself am finding this very difficult to write. As an editor and as a friend, John was the third of the three pod of rock critics, along with Bill Holdship and Dave DiMartino (Susan Whitall was the fourth, though she left early for Detroit News), who Dave Marsh sneered at, yet who took it upon themselves to burst the pompous rock star bubble with a lack of reverence unheard of today.
Kordosh will be remembered as a rock critic, but, like Rick Johnson, as a rock critic with a certain wit born to deflate pretension. Creem’s method of operation was at least in part to derail pomposity. Smart enough, and diplomatic enough, to get an interview with George Harrison, kind enough to unite the world of rock critics, he is about writing about rock what writing about rock should be, honest to a fault and funny beyond a fault line.
Here are some excerpts from the great man’s portfolio:
“PRINCE…IT’S A great name, isn’t it? It’s a great name for a dog. It’s a great name for spaghetti on Wednesday night. It’s a great name if you want to throw a party in 15 years. And now, it’s a great name for a movie star.”
“I guess this all proves that the Police are much-loved or, at the very least, extremely well-liked all over the third planet. But, like Dylan once said, why and what’s the reason for? I don’t know and I doubt if the Police really know, either. I caught ’em between Chicago and South America on their seemingly never-ending tour and couldn’t figure it out myself,”
“THURSDAY: KORDOSH has been roused from his afternoon nap by Sherry Ring, publicist for Mercury Records. Ring is calling from New York to firm up connections for next week’s Rush interviews.
“No problems with Neil and Alex,” says Ms. Ring. “But Geddy still says he won’t talk to anyone from CREEM.”
“Hmmph? Huh? Whannot?” mumbles Kordosh.
“Well, it’s that Eleganza…”
“Till ‘im I dint write it,” Kordosh snoozes. “Lots of people cut up in that one.”
“I know, but…well, if he sees things are going well with the other guys maybe he’ll change his mind.”
“By the way, did I mention that the album’s gone gold?”
“Huh? Album? Permanent Waves? Went gold a long time ago, dint?”
“No, the new one!”
“New one? Thought it was just released...has it been released?”
“Two weeks ago! Isn’t that something?”
“Yeah, that’s something, all right,” admits a practically-there Kordosh. Now the question is: what?”
“IF I KNEW exactly how the Rolling Stones lost their sense of song structure, explaining this boring rip-off might make for an interesting lecture. But I don’t, so let it serve as a public service message: don’t buy this album. Tell your friends. And, for God’s sake, don’t listen to anyone who tells you this record is anything but mundane. In fact, if someone does tell you it’s anything but mundane, openly ridicule them. It’ll be worth it!”
“Take my youngest clone, j., for example. Here’s one three-year-old with a parent-pleasing penchant for “Mexican Radio” and Michael Whatsizname — but a three-year-old who will get down and break-dance at the merest sound of Hooey. (This being the pragmatic way to pronounce “Huey” when your mouth’s only three.) And I’ll tell you, I don’t care if Lester Bangs comes back from the dead tomorrow to paper-shred Hooey: three-year-old kids have a weird, innate knowledge of what’s good. Huey Lewis is good, and good is good.”
“Let’s face it: when Mick Jagger was about their age he was singing songs of everlasting innuendo (“She said she liked the way I held the microphone”) that make the Crüe’s stuff sound like it was written by a moderately-imaginative dishwasher, which Nikki Sixx used to be. (A dishwasher, I mean, not moderately imaginative.) Their shows are punctuated with great bursts of flame and continuous dynamite charges, but that only means they can afford such things. Besides, it diverts your attention from their songs, which are (as mentioned) undistinguished.”
“We drank beers and smoked cigarettes and yapped about all sort of nonsense. To my great interest, I discovered that Roth and I share a common birth sign, fear of flying, and great respect for The National Enquirer. “The Enquirer is the only paper I use for more than rolling joints. It’s a sign of the times,” he acutely noted. Then, in reference to the well-publicized Carol Burnett suit, he opined that “she’s concerned that people won’t pay enough attention to her daughter’s drug stories.”
I could go on (for hours).
Did I mention that John played bass for the Detroit rock band The Mutants? Lots of other stuff you can read in Anthe Rhodes fine interview on rockcritics.com, here.
I both liked and admired John, a great writer and a great guy, and I will let him have the last word: “American. Husband. Father. Chemist. Writer. Humorist. Qadafi loyalist. Imperial Beach, CA”.