John Mendelsohn (musician)

Last updated
John Mendelsohn
Nationality American
Occupation writer, journalist, musician, graphic designer

John Ned Mendelsohnis an American writer, journalist, musician and graphic designer.



Mendelsohn, who sometimes spelled his name as Mendelssohn with two s's [1] 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 Boulevard. He studied at the University of California, Los Angeles, thus avoiding military service in the Vietnam War.

Mendelsohn began contributing music criticism to the Los Angeles Times and Rolling Stone while still a student. Although he was an ardent champion of the Kinks and David Bowie, the best known of these early contributions are his unfavorable reviews of the first two Led Zeppelin albums, which were published in Rolling Stone in 1969. His review of Led Zeppelin II displayed the sarcastic wit that became a characteristic of Mendelsohn's writing style, exemplified by his assertion that "Jimmy Page is the absolute number-one heaviest white blues guitarist between 5’4" and 5’8" in the world." [2] Mendelsohn cited the British critic Nik Cohn as a major influence on his own writing, calling him "screamingly funny" and saying that "my own star began to rise very quickly after I perfected my imitation of him". [3] When Ritchie Yorke wrote an article disparaging Mendelsohn and other rock critics, Mendlesohn, responding in the February 1971 issue of Phonograph Record , justified his dispassionate approach and said that "Rolling Stone suspects" he would even "give God a bad review". [4]

While continuing to contribute album reviews, Mendelsohn launched a music career in the early 1970s. Together with bass player Ralph William 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. As a musician and composer, Mendelsohn released an EP on Greg Shaw's Bomp label, titled 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. Between stints with Rolling Stone, Mendelsohn contributed to Creem in the mid-1980s; [3] later, he wrote for Playboy , Wired and Mojo . [5] He worked in graphic design and website design from the late 1990s through the mid-2000s. [6]

In 2002, Mendelsohn 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 published three books (Dominatrix: The Making of Mistress Chloe, Waiting for Kate Bush , and Gigantic: The Pixies and Frank Black ), in addition to working on a great deal of unpublished fiction and several teleplays. He directed and starred in two scripted sketch comedy revues, The Ministry of Humour and Clear & Present Rangers.

Mendelsohn departed the UK in late 2007. He 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. [7] Now living back in London after two years in Los Angeles, 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.

Related Research Articles

Led Zeppelin English rock band

Led Zeppelin were an English rock band formed in London in 1968. The group consisted of vocalist Robert Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham. With their heavy, guitar-driven sound, they are regularly cited as one of the progenitors of heavy metal, although their style drew from a variety of influences, including blues and folk music.

<i>Led Zeppelin</i> (album) debut album by English rock band Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin is the debut album by English rock band Led Zeppelin. It was released on 12 January 1969 in the United States and on 31 March in the United Kingdom by Atlantic Records.

<i>Led Zeppelin II</i> 1969 studio album by Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin II is the second album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, released on 22 October 1969 in the United States and on 31 October 1969 in the United Kingdom by Atlantic Records. Recording sessions for the album took place at several locations in both the United Kingdom and North America from January to August 1969. The album's production was credited to the band's lead guitarist and songwriter Jimmy Page, and it was also Led Zeppelin's first album on which Eddie Kramer served as engineer.

<i>Led Zeppelin IV</i> 1971 studio album by Led Zeppelin

The untitled fourth studio album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, commonly known as Led Zeppelin IV, was released on 8 November 1971 by Atlantic Records. It was produced by guitarist Jimmy Page and recorded between December 1970 and February 1971, mostly in the country house Headley Grange. The album is notable for featuring "Stairway to Heaven", which has been described as the band's signature song.

<i>Presence</i> (album) 1976 studio album by Led Zeppelin

Presence is the seventh studio album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, released by Swan Song Records on 31 March 1976. While the album was a commercial success, reaching the top of both the British and American album charts, and achieving a triple-platinum certification in the United States, it received mixed reviews from critics and was the lowest-selling studio album by the band while they were still active.

<i>Something Else by the Kinks</i> 1967 studio album by The Kinks

Something Else by the Kinks, often referred to as just Something Else, is the fifth UK studio album by The Kinks, released in September 1967. It marks the final involvement of American producer Shel Talmy in the Kinks' 1960s studio recordings; henceforth Ray Davies would produce recordings. Many of the recordings feature the keyboard work of Nicky Hopkins and the backing vocals of Ray's wife, Rasa. Two hit singles are included: "Waterloo Sunset" and "Death of a Clown". The album was ranked No. 288 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. It was voted number 237 in Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums 3rd Edition (2000).

<i>Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)</i> 1969 studio album by The Kinks

Arthur is the seventh studio album by English rock band the Kinks, released in October 1969. Kinks frontman Ray Davies constructed the concept album as the soundtrack to a Granada Television play and developed the storyline with novelist Julian Mitchell; the television programme was never produced. The rough plot revolved around Arthur Morgan, a carpet-layer, who was based on Ray and guitarist Dave Davies' brother-in-law Arthur Anning. A mono version was released in the UK, but not in the US.

<i>Kinks</i> (album) 1964 studio album by The Kinks

Kinks is the self-titled debut album by English rock band The Kinks, released in 1964. It was released with three tracks omitted as You Really Got Me in the United States.

The Village Green Preservation Society 1968 song performed by The Kinks

"The Village Green Preservation Society" is a single by the English rock group the Kinks. Written by Ray Davies, the song is a nostalgic reflection on cultural English "village green", country, and hamlet lifestyle, and references many different characteristics and features of it, such as Tudor houses and draught beer. At the same time, it speaks negatively of modern, industrial traits, such as office blocks and skyscrapers.

"In the Light" is a song by English rock band Led Zeppelin from their 1975 album Physical Graffiti. The song was composed primarily by bassist/keyboardist John Paul Jones on synthesizer, though lead vocalist Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page also received songwriting credits.

<i>Soap Opera</i> (album) 1975 studio album by The Kinks

Soap Opera or The Kinks Present a Soap Opera is a 1975 concept album by The Kinks. It is the fourteenth studio album by The Kinks.

<i>Kinda Kinks</i> 1965 studio album by The Kinks

Kinda Kinks is the second album by English rock band The Kinks, released in 1965. Recorded and released within two weeks after returning from a tour in Asia, Ray Davies and the band were not satisfied with the production. The single "Tired of Waiting for You" was a #1 hit on the UK Singles Charts.

<i>The Great Lost Kinks Album</i> 1973 compilation album by The Kinks

The Great Lost Kinks Album is a 1973 LP of mostly unreleased material issued by Reprise Records after The Kinks had moved to RCA. The tracks were recorded between 1966 and 1970 and master tapes were shipped to the US Reprise Label in the early 1970s to fulfil contractual obligations with that label. Kinks leader and songwriter, Ray Davies, intended most of the songs to remain unreleased "collateral" tracks for Reprise. Several other songs from these "collateral" recordings had been released on the 1972 Reprise compilation The Kink Kronikles.

"How Many More Times" is the ninth and final track on English rock band Led Zeppelin's 1969 debut album Led Zeppelin. The song is credited in the album liner to Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham, but Robert Plant was later added to the ASCAP credits.

<i>The Kink Kronikles</i> 1972 compilation album by The Kinks

The Kink Kronikles is a compilation double album by The Kinks, released on Reprise Records in 1972, after the band had signed with RCA Records in 1971. It contains thirteen non-album singles, fourteen tracks taken from five albums released by the band from 1966 to 1971, and one track previously unreleased. Designed specifically for the American market, it peaked at No. 94 on the Billboard 200. The single versions and mixes were not necessarily used for each track.

<i>In Through the Out Door</i> 1979 studio album by Led Zeppelin

In Through the Out Door is the eighth and final studio album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin. It was recorded over a three-week period in November and December 1978 at ABBA's Polar Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, and released by Swan Song Records on 15 August 1979. In 1980, Led Zeppelin disbanded following the death of drummer John Bonham.

Sitting in My Hotel 1973 single by The Kinks

"Sitting in My Hotel" is a song written by Ray Davies that was first released on The Kinks' 1972 album Everybody's in Show-Biz. It was also released on several compilation albums and as the B-side of the "Sweet Lady Genevieve" single. It is one of Davies' more introspective songs, musing about the cost of fame and stardom, and thus contributes to the album's theme of the difficulties of life on the road.

"Heart of Gold" is a song by the British rock band The Kinks. Written by Ray Davies, the song appeared on the band's 1983 album State of Confusion.

"She's Got Everything" is a song written by Ray Davies and released by the Kinks. It first appeared as the B-side of the Kinks' 1968 single, "Days".

<i>Jazz & Pop</i>

Jazz & Pop was an American music magazine that operated from 1962 to 1971. It was launched as Jazz and managed by Pauline Rivelli, with finance provided by Bob Thiele, the producer of jazz artists such as Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong, Earl Hines and Count Basie. The publication served as a rival title to Down Beat magazine, which had been established in the 1930s.


  1. [[
  2. "Led Zeppelin". Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
  3. 1 2 Steven Ward. "Interview with John Mendelsohn". Archived from the original on 1 December 2010. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
  4. Mendelsohn, John (February 1971). "John Mendelsohn, Rock Critic". Phonograph Record . Available at Rock's Backpages (subscription required).
  5. "Foul Balls and Alpha Males - The Author" . Retrieved 17 January 2011.
  6. "official site" . Retrieved 17 January 2011.
  7. "Reverb Nation" . Retrieved 17 January 2011.