John Mendelsohn (musician)
|Occupation||writer, journalist, musician, graphic designer|
He was born in Washington but moved with his parents to southern California aged six months. He lived briefly in the San Fernando Valley, but mostly on the coast, first in Playa del Rey, and later above Pacific Coast Highway just south of Topanga Canyon Blvd. He studied at the University of California at Los Angeles, thus avoiding military service in Vietnam. He began contributing music criticism to the Los Angeles Times and Rolling Stone while still a student. The best known of these early contributions are the negative reviews that appeared in Rolling Stone of each of the first two Led Zeppelin albums; the review of the second album fully displayed the sarcastic wit that would become the trademark of Mendelsohn's writing style with lines such as "Jimmy Page is the absolute number-one heaviest white blues guitarist between 5’4" and 5’8" in the world." Mendelsohn cited the British critic Nik Cohn as a major influence on his own writing, calling him "screamingly funny" and confiding that "my own star began to rise very quickly after I perfected my imitation of him".
While continuing to contribute rock album reviews, Mendelsohn made an earnest effort to launch a music career in the early 1970s. With bass player, Ralph Wm. Oswald, with whom he'd played in a succession of ragtag college groups (including recording a demo album with a nascent Sparks), he formed a serious version of their group Christopher Milk in mid-1970. With Mendelsohn primarily serving as lyricist, the group recorded for United Artists and Warner Bros. Records before disbanding in 1973. Mendelsohn next resolved to become a musician and composer. He released an EP on Greg Shaw's Bomp label, John Mendelsohn's the Pits, in 1975. Rhino released a package comprising his authorized autobiography, I, Caramba, and a compilation of song demos, Masturpieces, in 1995.
In 1984, Mendelsohn's biography of The Kinks, Kinks Kronikles, was published. In this timeframe between stints with Rolling Stone, Mendelsohn contributed to Creem in the mid-1980s and also wrote later in his career for Playboy, Wired and Mojo. Mendelsohn worked in graphic design and website design for several years in the late 1990s through mid-2000s (decade).
In 2002, he relocated to the United Kingdom to reside there with his English second wife Claire, during which he composed and produced his own solo album, Sex With Twinge, and Mistress Chloe's much-praised Like a Moth to Its Flame. Over the course of the next half-decade, he composed and produced albums for Sadie Sings and Do Re Mi Fa (Cough), and wrote three published books (Dominatrix: The Making of Mistress Chloe, Waiting for Kate Bush, and Gigantic: The Pixies and Frank Black) and a great deal of unpublished fiction, not to mention several teleplays. He directed and starred in two scripted sketch comedy revues, The Ministry of Humour and Clear & Present Rangers.
Mendelsohn departed the UK late in 2007, and spent 10 months in the Midwest before buying a home in New York's Hudson Valley, where, between November 2008 and November 2009, he composed, performed, and recorded his second solo album, Sorry We're Open, released in February 2010. Now based in LA, Mendelsohn regularly blogs on His Web journal, "For All in Tents and Porpoises", in which he writes his thoughts on various elements of pop culture, personal anecdotes including frank accounts of his lifelong struggles with low self-esteem and depression, and satirical political pieces in which he purports to have embraced conservatism and the policies of Sarah Palin.
Much of Mendelsohn's writing is now available for download in the form of ebooks from Amazon.com.