Nick Kent, along with writers Paul Morley, Charles Shaar Murray, Paul Rambali and Danny Baker, is widely considered one of the most important and influential UK music journalists of the 1970s. He wrote for the British music publication New Musical Express, moving to The Face later in his career. Kent's writing predominantly covers the lives and music of rock-and-roll musicians. His prose is laced with images of self-destruction and compassion, exploring the reality of being an artist in the late twentieth century. Kent is the author of two books: The Dark Stuff, a collection of his journalism and Apathy for the Devil: A 1970's Memoir which is an autobiographical account of his life and experiences in the 1970s, published in March 2010.
In the mid-70s, Kent played guitar with an early incarnation of the Sex Pistols, and rehearsed with the band London SS, whose members would go on to form other early British punk bands The Damned and The Clash.
Kent's relationship with the punk scene was strained, however. Already a well-known music critic and a symbol of the music industry, an intoxicated Kent, at a gig at the 100 Club, approached future Sex Pistol bassist Sid Vicious and entourage member Jah Wobble (later bassist with Public Image Ltd) attempting to fight the future Pistol. Wobble stepped in to help his friend, threatening to beat Kent with a motorcycle chain if he ever tried to attack Vicious again. Kent relates the incident in Johnny Rogan's book on rock management, Starmakers & Svengalis; in The Filth and the Fury, director Julien Temple's 2000 documentary of the Sex Pistols; in The Dark Stuff; in Jon Savage's book England's Dreaming; and in Apathy for the Devil.
Kent also had bad relations with the early punk incarnation of Adam & the Ants, starting with his NME review of the soundtrack album to Derek Jarman's film Jubilee in which Kent labelled Adam Ant a Nazi sympathiser on account of the featured song "Deutscher Girls". In retaliation, Ant sarcastically name-checked Kent in the song "Press Darlings" (later a B-Side of the Ants' no. 2 UK hit single "Kings Of The Wild Frontier" and on the US edition of the hit album of the same name) claiming that "If passion ends in fashion, then Nick Kent is the best dressed man in town..." In addition, then-Ants guitarist Matthew Ashman assaulted and humiliated Kent with a potful of strawberry jam in the queue outside Camden's Music Machine venue.
- The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music - foreword by Iggy Pop (1st edition: 1994, Penguin Books; updated 2nd edition: 2002, Da Capo Press)
- Apathy for the Devil: A Seventies Memoir (2010, Da Capo Press)