Nik Cohn

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Cohn in 2014

Nik Cohn, also written Nick Cohn (born 1946), is a British writer.

Life and career[edit]

Cohn was born in London, England and brought up in Derry,[1] in Northern Ireland, the son of historian Norman Cohn and Russian writer Vera Broido. An incomer to the tight knit town, he spent most of his time at the local record shop and the walk there, from his home on campus at Magee University College, inspired one of his earliest stories, 'Delinquent in Derry'. He left the city to attend the Royal Grammar School in Newcastle upon Tyne in England then moved to London.[1]

Cohn is considered by some critics to be a father of rock criticism, thanks to his columns in Queen and his first major book Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom, first published in 1969. Cohn has since published articles, novels and music books regularly.

When reviewing a rough mix of the Who's rock opera Tommy, he told the group members that the album was less than spectacular. Knowing that Cohn was a fan of pinball, Pete Townshend suggested that the album's deaf, dumb, and blind title character could also be an exceptional pinball player. Cohn's opinion of the album immediately improved, and Townshend subsequently wrote "Pinball Wizard" to be added to the album. He also panned The Beatles and Abbey Road upon their release in reviews for The New York Times.

During one stay in America in the late 1980s, he shared a flat with wrestler Chris Candido. Certain aspects of Cohn's personality were taken on by Candido in his "No Gimmicks Required" persona in ECW.[citation needed]

He wrote the 1976 New York article "Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night", which was the source material for the movie Saturday Night Fever.[1] In 1996, Cohn revealed the article to have been a complete fabrication, based only on clubgoers he knew from his native England. In the early 1980s, he was indicted on drug trafficking charges for importing $4 million worth of Indian heroin. He refused to give testimony[2] and the trafficking charges were subsequently dropped. Instead, he was given five years' probation and fined $5,000 for possession.[3]

Cohn was a columnist for The Guardian in the mid- to late 1990s as he researched his book on the underbelly of England, Yes We Have No: Adventures in the Other England. He is also a regular contributor to Granta. In 2016, Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom was listed by The Guardian's Robert McCrum as one of the "100 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time."[4] It and The Heart of the World were subsequently reissued by Penguin UK's Vintage Classics imprint.


  • Cohn, Nik (1965). Market. Secker & Warburg.
  • Cohn, Nik (1967). I Am Still the Greatest Says Johnny Angelo (novel). Secker & Warburg. ASIN B0000CNMIW.
  • Cohn, Nik (1969). Pop -From The Beginning. Weidenfeld & N. ISBN 0-297-17807-5.
  • Cohn, Nik (1970). Market. Penguin. ISBN 0-14-003183-9.
  • Cohn, Nik (1971). Today There are No Gentlemen. Weidenfeld & N. ISBN 0-297-00454-9.
  • Cohn, Nik (1973). Arfur. Panther. ISBN 0-586-03572-9.
  • Cohn, Nik (1975). King Death. Harcourt. ISBN 0-15-147223-8.
  • Cohn, Nik & Peellaert, Guy (1974). Rock Dreams. Pan Books Ltd, London. ISBN 0-330-24008-0.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Cohn, Nik (1989). Ball the Wall: Nik Cohn in the Age of Rock. Macmillan. ISBN 0-330-29970-0.
  • Cohn, Nik (1992). The Heart of the World. Alfred a Knopf. ISBN 0-394-56869-9.
  • Cohn, Nik (1992). Heart of the World. Octagon. ISBN 0-374-00000-X.
  • Cohn, Nik (1997). Need. Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-679-42707-4.
  • Cohn, Nik (1999). Yes We Have No: Adventures in the Other England. Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-394-56870-2.
  • Cohn, Nik & Peellaert, Guy (1999). Twentieth Century Dreams. 0330299700. ISBN 0-436-27617-8.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Cohn, Nik & Dorner, Julia (2002). Soljas. Taschen. ISBN.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Cohn, Nik (2005). Triksta : Life and Death and New Orleans Rap. Knopf. ISBN 1-4000-4245-3.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Rozzo, Mark (2011-12-02). "Nik Cohn's Fever Dream". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018-09-21.
  2. ^ Fried, Joseph P. (1983-10-09). "2 Figures In Drug Ring Case Arrange To Enter Guilty Pleas". The New York Times. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  3. ^ "Writer Is Given 5 Years' Probation". The New York Times. 1983-11-18. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  4. ^ McCrum, Robert (2016-05-02). "The 100 Best Nonfiction Books: No. 14--Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom by Nik Cohn". The Guardian. Retrieved 2019-08-08.