John Sargent Rockwell (born September 16, 1940) is an American music critic, dance critic and arts administrator.[1] According to Grove Music Online, "Rockwell brings two signal attributes to his critical work: a genuine admiration for all kinds of music and the arts, and the ability to fit a spirit of inquiry and enthusiasm for newer approaches to music into a reasoned overview of cultural history".[1]

John Rockwell
Rockwell at the 2015 EMP Pop Conference
John Sargent Rockwell

(1940-09-16) September 16, 1940 (age 83)
SpouseLinda Mevorach

Early life and education


Rockwell was born on September 16, 1940, to San Francisco attorney Alvin J. Rockwell (1908–1999) and Anna S. Hayward (1906–1983).[2][3] He studied at Phillips Academy, Harvard University, the University of Munich, and the University of California, Berkeley, earning a Ph.D. in German cultural history.[2]



Rockwell began his journalistic career at the Oakland Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.[2] In 1972 he began writing at The New York Times, first as a classical music critic and reporter, then also as the paper's chief pop music critic, and, from 1992 to 1994, as the European cultural correspondent.[2] Between 1994 and 1998, he served as the first director of the Lincoln Center Festival. Rockwell returned to The New York Times to become the editor of the paper's Sunday Arts and Leisure section. In 2004, he was named the chief dance critic. He left the Times at the end of 2006 to pursue independent projects.

Rockwell got his start in radio journalism at WHRB at Harvard and at KPFA in Berkeley.[4] On WNYC Radio, Rockwell examined cultural topics and events in the news for his weekly Monday-night segment, "Rockwell Matters", from October 2007 until May 2008.[5]

In January 2008, Rockwell was a Distinguished Visitor at the American Academy in Berlin. He is a Chevalier of the French Order of Arts & Letters.

Personal life


Rockwell currently lives in Manhattan with his wife, Linda Mevorach. Their daughter, Sasha, resides in California.[2]


  • Rockwell, John (1983). All American Music. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 978-0-394-51163-4.
  • —— (1984). Sinatra: An American Classic. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-394-53977-5.
  • —— (2003). The Idiots. London: BFI Film Institute. ISBN 978-0-85170-955-0.
  • —— (2006). Outsider: John Rockwell on the Arts. Pompton Plains: Limelight Editions. ISBN 978-0-87910-333-0.
  • ——, ed. (2014). The Times of the Sixties. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers. ISBN 978-1-57912-964-4.


  1. ^ a b Smith, Patrick J.; Buja, Maureen (2001). "Rockwell, John". Grove Music Online. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.47675. ISBN 978-1-56159-263-0. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  2. ^ a b c d e Google Books, The International Who's Who (2004), 67th Edition, Europa Publications, 2003, ISBN 978-1-85743-217-6, Library of Congress Catalog Card #35-10257, p. 1426. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
  3. ^ Saxon, Wolfgang (May 20, 1999). "Alvin Rockwell, 90; Lawyer Helped Mold A Postwar Germany". The New York Times. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  4. ^ Rockwell, John (May 2009). Outsider: John Rockwell on the Arts, 1967–2006. Limelight Editions. ISBN 978-0-87910-367-5.
  5. ^ "Rockwell Matters". WNYC. Retrieved November 28, 2021.