Jon Savage

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Jon Savage
Savage in 2009
Jonathan Malcolm Sage

(1953-09-02) 2 September 1953 (age 70)
Paddington, London, England
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge
Occupation(s)Music journalist, broadcaster, writer

Jon Savage (born Jonathan Malcolm Sage; 2 September 1953 in Paddington, London)[citation needed] is an English writer, broadcaster and music journalist, best known for his history of the Sex Pistols and punk music, England's Dreaming, published in 1991.


Savage read Classics at Magdalene College, Cambridge, graduating in 1975.[1][2] Becoming a music journalist at the dawn of British punk, he wrote articles on all of the major punk acts, publishing a fanzine called London's Outrage in 1976. A year later he began working as a journalist for Sounds, which was, at that time, one of the UK's three major music papers, along with the New Musical Express and Melody Maker. Savage interviewed punk, new wave and electronic music artists for Sounds. At that time, he also wrote for the West Coast fanzines Search & Destroy, Bomp! and Slash.

In 1979 he moved to Melody Maker, and a year later to the newly founded pop culture magazine The Face. Throughout the decade, Savage wrote for The Observer and the New Statesman, providing high-brow commentary on popular culture.

In 1991, Savage designed a record sleeve for the then little-known Welsh rock band Manic Street Preachers. The single was called "Feminine Is Beautiful".

His book England's Dreaming, a history of the rise of punk rock in the UK and the US in the mid- to late 1970s, was published by Faber and Faber in 1991 and received a positive review in Entertainment Weekly.[3] It was used as the basis for a television programme, Punk and the Pistols, shown on BBC2 in 1995, and an updated edition in 2001 featured a new introduction which made mention of the Pistols' 1996 reunion and the release of the 2000 Pistols documentary film, The Filth and The Fury. A companion piece, The England's Dreaming Tapes, was published in 2009.

In July 1993, Kurt Cobain gave a dramatically candid interview to Jon Savage. Freely discussed were such controversial topics as Courtney Love, homosexuality, heroin and Cobain's relationship with his Nirvana bandmates. Conducted with Cobain the night before the now-infamous shoot with legendary photographer Jesse Frohman, and just months before the frontman's death.

Savage continues[when?] to write on punk and other genres in a variety of publications, most notably Mojo magazine and The Observer Music Monthly. He wrote the introduction to Mitch Ikeda's Forever Delayed (2002), an official photobook of the Manic Street Preachers.

Savage has appeared in the documentaries Live Forever and NewOrderStory.

Several compilation CDs based on his track lists have also been released, including England's Dreaming (2004) and Meridian 1970 (2005), the latter of which puts forward the argument that 1970 was a high-point for popular music, contrary to critical opinion. He curated the compilation Queer Noises 1961–1978 (2006), a collection of largely overlooked pop songs from that period that carried overt or coded gay messages. His most recent compilations have included the now deleted Fame, Jon Savage's Secret History Of Post-Punk 78–81 on Caroline True Records. His latest curated[when?] release on the same label is Perfect Motion, Jon Savage's Secret History Of Second Wave Psychedelia 1988–1993. Also a limited double-vinyl release, this collection posited late eighties/early nineties "Baggy" music as a slight return to the ethos of 60s psychedelia.

Savage's book, Teenage: The Prehistory of Youth Culture, was published in 2007. It is a history of the concept of teenagers, which begins in the 1870s and ends in 1945 and aims to tell the story of youth culture's prehistory, and dates the advent of today's form of "teenagers" to 1945.[4] The book was adapted into a film by Matt Wolf.

In 2015, Savage published 1966, recalling the popular music and cultural turmoil of that year. He also compiled and wrote the liner notes for a two-disc companion CD, Jon Savage's 1966: The Year the Decade Exploded (Ace Records).



  • Savage, Jon (1984). The Kinks: the official biography. London: Faber.
  • England's Dreaming: Sex Pistols and Punk Rock (Faber and Faber, 1991, ISBN 978-0-571-13975-0)
  • Picture Post Idols Publisher: London, Collins & Brown, 1992 ISBN 978-1-85585-083-5
  • The Hacienda Must Be Built (International Music Publications, 1992, ISBN 978-0-86359-857-9)
  • The Faber Book of Pop (edited with Hanif Kureishi) (Faber and Faber, 1995, ISBN 978-0-571-17980-0)
  • Touching From a Distance (Foreword) (Faber and Faber, 1995, ISBN 0-571-17445-0)
  • Time Travel: From the Sex Pistols to Nirvana – Pop, Media and Sexuality, 1977–96 Publisher: London, Chatto & Windus, 1996 ISBN 978-0-7011-6360-0
  • Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture Publisher: Viking Books, 2007 ISBN 978-0-670-03837-4
  • 1 Top Class Manager: The Notebooks of Joy Division's Manager, 1978–1980 (Anti-Archivists)
  • The England's Dreaming Tapes (University of Minnesota Press, 2010)
  • Jon Savage/Linder Sterling: The Secret Public (Boo-Hooray Gallery, 2010)
  • Sex Pistols and Punk (Faber and Faber 2012) ISBN 978-0-571-29654-5)
  • Punk: Chaos to Couture (2013)[5]
  • Frohman, Jesse (2014). Kurt Cobain: The Last Session. Contributions by Jon Savage and Glenn O'Brien. London: Thames & Hudson.
  • 1966: The Year the Decade Exploded. London: Faber & Faber. 2015. ISBN 978-0-571-27762-9.
  • This Searing Light, the Sun and Everything Else: Joy Division (Faber and Faber 2019) ISBN 978-0-571-34537-3


  • Savage, Jon (June 1997). "Psychedelia: The 100 Greatest Classics". Mojo. No. 43.
  • Savage, Jon (December 2014). "Kurt Cobain's Last Photo Session and Interview, 1993: Part 1 'Very like the Sex Pistols'". Mojo. No. 253. pp. 30–31.


  • Joy Division documentary film, screenwriter, 2008[6]


  • England's Dreaming (Trikont 2004)
  • Meridian 1970 (Forever Heavenly 2005)
  • Queer Noises – From the Closet to the Charts (Trikont 2006)[7]
  • The Shadows of Love – Intense Tamla 1966–1968 (Commercial Marketing 2006)
  • Dreams Come True – Classic Wave Electro 1982–87 (Domino Records 2008)
  • Teenage – The Invention of Youth 1911–1945 (Trikont 2009)
  • Fame – Jon Savage's Secret History of Post Punk 1978–81 (Caroline True Records 2012)
  • Perfect Motion- Jon Savage's Secret History of Second-Wave Psychedelia 1988-93 (Caroline True Records 2015)
  • Punk 45: Sick on You! One Way Spit! (2014)
  • Jon Savage's 1965: The Year the Sixties Ignited (Ace Records 2018)
  • Jon Savage's 1966: The Year the Decade Exploded (Ace Records 2015)
  • Jon Savage's 1967 ~ The Year Pop Divided (Ace Records 2017)
  • Jon Savage's 1968 ~ The Year the World Burned (Ace Records 2018)
  • Jon Savage's 1969-1971 ~ Rock Dreams on 45 (Ace Records 2019)
  • Do You Have The Force? -Jon Savage's Alternate History Of Electronica 1978-82 (Caroline True Records 2020)


  1. ^ Richie Unterberger, "Jon Savage: Biography", AllMusic (accessed 18 July 2018).
  2. ^ "Tripos: Mathematics, History, Art History, Classics", Times, 25 June 1975.
  3. ^ "Smash the State". Entertainment Weekly. 27 March 1992.
  4. ^ "The Kids Are—Yawn—Alright". New York. 2007.
  5. ^ J. C. Maçek III (6 June 2013). "Fashionably Anti-Establishment: 'Punk: From Chaos to Couture'". PopMatters.
  6. ^ Savage, Jon (16 March 2008). "Unseen pleasures". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
  7. ^ "Queer Noises: From the Closet to the Charts 1961-1978". New Internationalist. 2 December 2006.

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