Nick Tosches (born October 17 1949) is an American journalist, novelist, biographer, and poet. His 1982 biography of Jerry Lee Lewis, Hellfire, was called by Rolling Stone "the best rock n’ roll biography ever written."
He was born in Newark, New Jersey. The name Tosches originates from Albanian settlers in Italy, known as Arbëreshë; his grandfather emigrated from the village of Casalvecchio di Puglia to New York in the late nineteenth century.
According to his own account, Nick Tosches "barely finished high school". He had a variety of jobs, including working as a porter for his family's business in New Jersey, and as a paste-up artist for the Lovable underwear company in New York, before spending time in the early 1970s in Florida working as a snake hunter for the Miami Serpentarium. A fan of early rock and roll music and "oddball" records, he also began writing for rock music magazines, including Creem, Fusion, and Rolling Stone. He has been described as "the best example of a good rock journalist who set out to transcend his genre and succeeded," and as someone who "along with Lester Bangs, Richard Meltzer and a handful of other noble notables from the era... elevated rock writing to a new plateau." He was fired by Rolling Stone for collaborating with Meltzer in filing record reviews under each other's byline.
His first book, Country: The Biggest Music in America (later retitled Country: The Twisted Roots of Rock and Roll), was first published in 1977. It was followed in 1982 by Hellfire, a biography of Jerry Lee Lewis, and in 1984 by Unsung Heroes of Rock N' Roll: The Birth of Rock in the Wild Years Before Elvis. Subsequent biographies have covered the lives of singer and entertainer Dean Martin, Sicilian financier Michele Sindona, heavyweight boxer Sonny Liston, country singer Emmett Miller, and racketeer Arnold Rothstein...
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