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Dave Marsh

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Dave Marsh
Marsh in 2021
Born1949 or 1950 (age 73–74)
  • Music journalist
  • author

Dave Marsh (born 1949 or 1950)[1] is an American music critic and radio talk show host. He was an early editor of Creem magazine, has written for various publications such as Newsday, The Village Voice, and Rolling Stone, and has published numerous books about music and musicians, mostly focused on rock music. He is also a committee member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Early life[edit]

Marsh grew up in Pontiac, Michigan, and graduated from Waterford Kettering High School in Waterford, Michigan.[2] He attended Wayne State University in Detroit before dropping out in 1969 to write for Creem magazine.[3]


Marsh began his career as a rock critic and editor at Creem, which he helped start.[3] At Creem, he was mentored by close friend and colleague Lester Bangs. While supportive of punk music in general, he said in a 2001 interview that "I don't know that it was any more important than disco", and believes hip hop is more significant than punk in the history of rock music.[4]

He has written extensively about his favorite artists, including Marvin Gaye, whose song "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" he chose as the number one single of all-time in his book The Heart of Rock and Soul: the 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made, and Sly Stone, whom he called "one of the greatest musical adventurers rock has ever known."[5]

Along with Rolling Stone magazine publisher Jann Wenner, Marsh has been involved in organizing and maintaining the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. Marsh has at times courted controversy with his style of maintaining selections.

Marsh has championed the work of many rock and roll artists of the Fifties and early Sixties, including doo-wop and soul artists and girl groups, in his books and Rolling Stone contributions. Marsh also published four books about Bruce Springsteen, including the bestsellers Born to Run and Glory Days.[6]

Marsh has edited and contributed to Rock and Roll Confidential, a newsletter about rock music and social issues.[3] The newsletter has since been renamed Rock and Rap Confidential. Marsh contributed to the 1994 book Mid-Life Confidential, a book about and by the Rock Bottom Remainders, a rock band composed of American authors. He has also worked for Newsday and The Real Paper.[3]

Marsh's book 360 Sound: The Columbia Records Story — Legends and Legacy, was released in October 2012, as a companion to Sean Wilentz's book 360 Sound: The Columbia Records Story. In the same format as Heart of Rock and Soul, this book covers the 264 greatest songs from Columbia Records beginning with the 1890 performance of John Philip Sousa's "Washington Post March" and working its way chronologically up to Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" (2011). To promote the music of Columbia Records, Legends and Legacy is available as a free eBook on iTunes."[7]

Derision of musicians[edit]

Marsh has been characterised as a "grumpy rock and roll journalist" due to his acerbic comments on popular musicians whom he dislikes.[8] In 1976, he wrote that Led Zeppelin had an "insurmountable flaw" in drummer John Bonham (who has frequently been named as one of the greatest rock drummers of all time), whom he saw as "something like clinically incompetent" and responsible for marring every Zeppelin album to date.[9] C

Marsh wrote in 1978: "Queen isn't here just to entertain. This group has come to make it clear exactly who is superior and who is inferior. Its anthem, 'We Will Rock You', is a marching order: you will not rock us, we will rock you. Indeed, Queen may be the first truly fascist rock band...[I] wonder why anyone would indulge these creeps and their polluting ideas."[10] Marsh had previously described Queen frontman Freddie Mercury – who is regarded as one of the best rock singers of all time[11] – as possessing a "passable pop voice".[12]

Marsh described Bob Seger's 1980 album Against the Wind as "absolutely cowardly".[13] He was much more supportive of Seger's earlier work.[14]: 454 [15]

In the 1983 Rolling Stone Record Guide, Marsh called Journey "a dead end for San Francisco area rock", and their music "calculated". He awarded every single Journey album released up to that point – seven studio albums, a compilation album and a live album – the minimum possible score of 1/5 stars.[14]: 266  When asked about Marsh's unrelenting derision of Journey on a 1986 television program during which other critics had defended the band, lead singer Steve Perry called Marsh "an unusual little man who all too often thinks that his subjective opinions translate to inarguable fact".[16]

Also in the 1983 Rolling Stone Record Guide, Marsh described Air Supply as "The most calculated and soulless pseudo-group of its kind, which is saying something".[14]: 6 

In 1989, Marsh referred to the Grateful Dead as the "worst band in creation".[17][8]

Regarding a possible Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction for Kiss, Marsh said: "Kiss is not a great band. Kiss was never a great band. Kiss never will be a great band, and I have done my share to keep them off the ballot."[18] Kiss were ultimately inducted in 2014; in the lead-up, Marsh said: "I was done with them before I ever turned the first album over to the second side... all that mediocrity was harmless enough until the boastful bassist decided to turn it into a propaganda machine for the only two things he's ever loved: Gene Simmons and money." Lead singer Paul Stanley described Marsh as "pompous", and pointed to his derision of Led Zeppelin and Queen as evidence that he had "no clue" about music.[19]

In the March 13, 1975 edition of Rolling Stone, Marsh was one of a number of critics asked about Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks. Marsh wrote: "The long songs, particularly, suffer from flat, tangled imagery, and the music, with all its hints at the old glory, is often incompetently performed. I suppose it's all a matter of what you're willing to settle for."[20]

Talk shows[edit]

Dave Marsh hosts three Sirius XM Radio shows, one called Live from E Street Nation, airing on E Street Radio and the second Kick Out the Jams, airing Sundays on music talk channel Volume. The title references the MC5 album Kick Out the Jams.

Marsh's third Sirius program, the political talk show Live From the Land of Hopes and Dreams, airs Sunday afternoons on Sirius Left, channel 146 and America Left, channel 167 on XM Satellite Radio.

Charitable causes[edit]

Marsh is a co-founder and trustee of the Kristen Ann Carr Fund,[21] created in memory of his step-daughter who died in 1993 from sarcoma, a form of cancer. The fund is dedicated to supporting research in the treatment and cure of sarcoma, as well as improving the lives of young adult cancer patients and their families.

Marsh is also a member of the National Advisory Board of PROTECT: The National Association to Protect Children.[citation needed]


  • Born to Run: The Bruce Springsteen Story, (Doubleday) 1979
  • The Book of Rock Lists, (Dell) 1980
  • Elvis, (Times Books) 1982
  • Rocktopicon: Unlikely questions and their surprising answers, (Contemporary) 1982
  • Before I Get Old: The Story of the Who, (St. Martin's Press) 1983
  • Fortunate Son (Random House) 1983. A collection of his journalism and criticism.
  • The First Rock and Roll Confidential Report: Inside the Real World of Rock and Roll, 1984. Compilation.
  • Sun City: The Making of the Record ,(Penguin) 1985
  • Trapped: Michael Jackson and the Crossover Dream, (Bantam) 1986
  • The Rolling Stone Record Guide: Reviews and Ratings of Almost 10,000 Currently Available Rock, Pop, Soul, Country, Blues, Jazz, and Gospel Albums (first and second editions 1979, 1983)
  • Glory Days: Bruce Springsteen in the 1980s, 1987. A sequel to Born to Run.
  • The Heart of Rock & Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. Da Capo Press. 1999. ISBN 978-0306809019. OCLC 40200194.
  • Heaven Is Under Our Feet: A Book for Walden Woods, co-editor with Don Henley, (Longmeadow Press, 1991)
  • 50 Ways to Fight Censorship: And Important Facts to Know About the Censors (Thunder's Mouth Press), 1991
  • Louie Louie: The History and Mythology of the World's Most Famous Rock'n'Roll song; Including the Full Details of Its Torture and Persecution at the Hands of the Kingsmen, J. Edgar Hoover's F.B.I., and a Cast of Millions; and Introducing, for the First Time Anywhere, the Actual Dirty Lyrics, (Hyperion), 1992.
  • Merry Christmas Baby: Holiday Music from Bing to Sting, (Little Brown) 1992.
  • Pastures of Plenty: A Self-Portrait with Harold Leventhal and featuring the writings of Woody Guthrie (Perennial) 1992
  • The New Book of Rock Lists with James Bernard, (Fireside) 1994
  • Mid-Life Confidential: The Rock Bottom Remainders Tour America with Three Chords and an Attitude (Viking) 1994
  • Sam and Dave (For the Record series), (Harper Perennial) 1998
  • Sly and the Family Stone: An Oral History (For the Record series), (Quill) 1998
  • George Clinton & P-Funkadelic (For the Record series), (Harper Perennial) 1998
  • Bruce Springsteen: Two Hearts : The Definitive Biography, 1972-2003, (Routledge) 2003. Combines earlier two works about Bruce and adds a new chapter.
  • Forever Young: Photographs of Bob Dylan with Douglas R. Gilbert (Da Capo Press) 2005
  • Bruce Springsteen on Tour : 1968-2005 (Bloomsbury USA) 2006
  • The Beatles' Second Album (Rodale Books) 2007
  • 360 Sound: The Columbia Records Story - Legends and Legacy (Chronicle Books) 2012

See also[edit]


  1. ^ McAuliffe, Kim (December 20, 1979). "He Saw Rock Die; Wrote of Its Revival". The Detroit Free Press. p. 18C. ...said the 29-year-old Marsh, who now lives in New York City.
  2. ^ Michigan Academician. Vol. 23. Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters. 1991. p. 203.
  3. ^ a b c d "Dave Marsh". RocksBackPages.com. Retrieved April 3, 2016.
  4. ^ Woods, Scott (March 12, 2013). "From the Archives: Dave Marsh (2001)". RockCritics.com. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  5. ^ "Stone, Sly (Contemporary Musicians)". eNotes.com. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  6. ^ Watrous, Peter (July 5, 1987). "Growin' Up and Rockin' Out". The New York Times. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  7. ^ Menta, Richard. "Napster, Dave Marsh, and 125 Years of Columbia Records". MP3Newswire.net.
  8. ^ a b Suttle, Tim. "New Book Rips U2′s Bono as a Lap-dog for Neo-liberals".Patheos. May 9, 2013. Retrieved October 14, 2013.
  9. ^ Marsh, Dave (April 23, 1976). "Led Zeppelin: Presence". Progress Bulletin. Newspapers.com. Retrieved October 24, 2016.
  10. ^ Marsh, Dave (February 8, 1979). "Jazz". Rolling Stone. No. 284. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  11. ^ "Why Freddie Mercury's Voice Was So Great, As Explained By Science". NPR. April 25, 2016. Retrieved October 24, 2016.
  12. ^ Marsh, Dave (February 24, 1977). "A Day at the Races". Rolling Stone. Vol. 115, no. 223. p. 47. Bibcode:2008S&T...115c..47K. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  13. ^ Marsh, Dave (May 15, 1980). "Against the Wind". Rolling Stone. No. 317. Archived from the original on April 21, 2009. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  14. ^ a b c Marsh, Dave; Swenson, John, eds. (October 1983). The New Rolling Stone Record Guide. New York: Random House/Rolling Stone Press. ISBN 978-0-394-72107-1.
  15. ^ Marsh, Dave (June 15, 1978). "Bob Seger: Not a Stranger Anymore". Rolling Stone.
  16. ^ Steve Perry interview. 96.5 KOIT. June 2, 1986.
  17. ^ Weiner, Robert G. (1999), Perspectives on the Grateful Dead: Critical Writings, Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 9780313305696
  18. ^ "Legendary Rockers Kiss Strong as Ever After 35 Years". ABC News. October 18, 2009. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  19. ^ Lifton, Dave (March 15, 2014). "'Mediocre' Kiss Trade Barbs with 'Ugly Little Troll' Rock Critic". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved October 24, 2016.
  20. ^ Marsh, Dave (March 13, 1975). "Top Critics Track Dylan". Rolling Stone. No. 182. p. 53.
  21. ^ The Kristen Ann Carr Fund

External links[edit]