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Geoffrey Cannon is an English author and journalist, and former magazine editor. From 1968 to 1972, he was the music critic for The Guardian, a role that made him the first dedicated rock critic at a British daily newspaper.[1] Having worked as the arts editor for New Society magazine, he was the editor of the BBC publication Radio Times from 1969 to 1979.[2] During that time, he also wrote on music and pop culture for The Listener, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Sun-Times, Creem, Rock et Folk, Melody Maker and Time Out.[1]

In the 1980s, he began to specialise in food and nutrition writing. He co-authored with Caroline Walker the 1984 bestseller The Food Scandal: What's Wrong with the British Diet and How to Put It Right.[3] Cannon's other books include The Politics of Food. In the 1990s, he was the director of science for the World Cancer Research Fund.


Early years and educationEdit

Cannon was educated at a Bluecoat school in Horsham in the county of Sussex. He subsequently attended Oxford University, where he was a member of Balliol College.[4]

He recalls that hearing Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring played loudly on a family friend's state-of-the-art hi-fi, at the age of fourteen, first enlightened him to the power of music. As further key events, he cites playing "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" in a record-shop listening booth in Horsham, and a year later "when a van came down a street in Essen, Germany, playing the demo of 'Heartbreak Hotel'".[4]


Music journalismEdit

Cannon's first published writings on popular culture appeared in New Society in 1962. He worked in-house for the magazine, later becoming its art and arts editor. From 1967, he wrote for The Listener, under the editorship of Karl Miller, and in 1968 began writing a weekly column on pop and rock music for The Guardian.[4] Along with Tony Palmer of The Observer, a Sunday newspaper, he was one of the leading figures in the emergence of British rock criticism during the late 1960s.[5] George Melly, who became The Observer's first pop culture commentator in 1965,[6] described the pair as seeking to "establish a critical apparatus" with which to evaluate contemporary popular music.[5]

Helped by his association with The Guardian, Cannon was able to contribute more substantial articles to the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Sun-Times, and to underground magazines such as Creem.[4] He wrote the 1970 documentary film London Rock, focusing on the UK's counterculture movement.[7] He recalls that, together with Rolling Stone journalists David Dalton and Jonathan Cott, he joined Granada Television documentary-makers such as Jo Durden-Smith, John Sheppard and Michael Darlow in devising "prime-time networked shows designed as anthems of the revolution". Among these late-1960s projects, he says that the Johnny Cash at San Quentin TV special was his idea, and he "share[s] credit" for the ideas behind the concert films The Doors Are Open and The Stones in the Park.[4] He also directed the film of Frank Zappa's performance at the 1970 Palermo Pop Festival, for RAI, Italy's national public broadcaster.[4]

After leaving his job at New Society in 1969, Cannon became editor of Radio Times.[4] In July 1971, he was one of four speakers on "Youth and Music" at the inaugural International Music Industry Conference hosted by Billboard magazine. In his address, he discussed rock music's inspirational role on the lifestyle of contemporary youth and also its ability to provide "the catalyst for styles of death", with regard to the counterculture-related deaths of Sharon Tate in Los Angeles, Meredith Hunter at Altamont, and Weather Underground radical Diana Oughton.[8]

Cannon says he was frustrated by The Guardian's habit of cutting down his submissions and stopped writing for the paper in 1972. In addition, he cites his lack of interest in contemporary musical trends – a perspective that was reflected in his being awarded "Pseud of the Year" by the satirical magazine Private Eye for two consecutive years. Later in the 1970s, he wrote what he considers some of his "best pieces" for Melody Maker and Time Out, when they were edited by Richard Williams.[4]

Food and nutritionEdit

After his ten-year editorship of Radio Times, Cannon wrote for The Sunday Times until 1983. He specialised in food and health writing during the 1980s. Following their collaboration on The Food Scandal, published in 1984, he married Caroline Walker, an English food campaigner and nutritionist.[4] Cannon subsequently authored The Good Fight, a biography of Walker, who died from colon cancer in 1988.[9] His other books include Dieting Makes You Fat and The Politics of Food.[4]

Cannon became the director of science at the World Cancer Research Fund, for which he helped create the 1997 report Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer. In 2012, he was working as the editor of World Nutrition, the journal of the World Public Health Nutrition Association.[4]

Personal lifeEdit

Cannon lived in the Notting Hill area of London[9] before moving to Brazil in 2000.[1] He moved to Juiz de Fora, where he remarried, to a Brazilian woman named Raquel. In 2007, he told The Daily Telegraph: "Europeans regard death as the final obscenity, but in Brazil everyone is familiar with it ... I don't think she would have married me if I hadn't been 'trained' in Brazilian life by Caroline's death. To live fully you have to embrace all of life's experiences."[9]


  1. ^ a b c "Geoffrey Cannon". Rock's Backpages. Retrieved 3 November 2018.
  2. ^ "Radio Times Facts and Figures". Retrieved 3 November 2018.
  3. ^ "About Caroline Walker". Retrieved 3 November 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Cannon, Geoffrey (April 2012). "A Life in Pop Writing". Rock's Backpages. Retrieved 3 November 2018. (Subscription required (help)). Cite uses deprecated parameter |subscription= (help)
  5. ^ a b Lindberg, Ulf; Guomundsson, Gestur; Michelsen, Morten; Weisethaunet, Hans (2005). Rock Criticism from the Beginning: Amusers, Bruisers, and Cool-Headed Cruisers. New York, NY: Peter Lang. p. 125. ISBN 978-0-8204-7490-8.
  6. ^ Bray, Christopher (2014). 1965: The Year Modern Britain Was Born. London: Simon & Schuster. pp. 262–63. ISBN 978-1-84983-387-5.
  7. ^ "London Rock (1970)". IMDb. Retrieved 3 November 2018.
  8. ^ Billboard staff (10 July 1971). "Rock, the Catalyst of Youth Changes, Lifestyles". Billboard. p. 36. Retrieved 3 November 2018.
  9. ^ a b c Horley, Nick (12 February 2007). "Can Cancer Eat Away at the Bonds of Love?". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 November 2018.

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