Kenneth Tucker is an American arts, music and television critic, magazine editor, and nonfiction book author.

Ken Tucker
Tucker in 2008
Kenneth Tucker

EducationB.A., English, New York University
Occupation(s)arts critic, magazine editor and nonfiction book author
Years activesince 1974[1]

Early life and education


Tucker was born in Manhattan, New York City, New York, and raised in Stamford, Connecticut. He earned a bachelor's degree in English from New York University.



While attending NYU, he began writing freelance reviews for The Village Voice, SoHo Weekly News, and Rolling Stone.[2] From 1979 to 1983, Tucker was the rock critic for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner. From 1983 to 1990, he worked at The Philadelphia Inquirer, first as the newspaper's rock critic, and then its television critic.

In 1990, he joined Entertainment Weekly (a Time Inc. publication) as a founding staffer. He was the magazine's television critic,[3] DVD critic and an editor-at-large until 2013,[4] except for one year (2005–06) as film critic at New York Magazine.

Since 1982, Tucker has been a rock and pop music critic for the National Public Radio (NPR) talk show Fresh Air with Terry Gross.[2][5]

Tucker has appeared many times on television, including multiple appearances on The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Charlie Rose Show, and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.[6] He appears in the 1984 documentary The Gospel According to Al Green.[6] He is interviewed on-camera in Cartoon College, a documentary about the history of comics.



Tucker's reviews have provoked some notable responses from his subjects. In August 1980, Billy Joel, enraged by a negative review of his music Tucker had written in the L.A. Herald Examiner, tore up the review on stage during one of his concerts.[7]

Tucker's negative reviews of Seth MacFarlane’s animated series Family Guy resulted in a number of MacFarlane counter-criticisms, including a scene in which Stewie Griffin breaks the neck of an Entertainment Weekly writer widely assumed to be Tucker.[8]



For his critical writings, Tucker was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Criticism in 1984,[9] the first rock critic to become a Pulitzer finalist.[10] He won a National Magazine Award in 1995[11] and has twice won a Deems Taylor Award by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).[12][13]



Articles and essays


Tucker has written frequently about poetry and comic books, most notably for The New York Times Book Review[14][15] and The Best American Poetry blog.[16] His 1985 New York Times review[17] of the serialized portions of Art Spiegelman’s then-work-in-progress Maus is considered a factor in the mainstream acceptance of graphic novels and the publication of Maus by Pantheon Books.[18]

He has contributed essays to the following anthologies:

  • Miller, Jim, ed. The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll, 1st Ed., New York: Rolling Stone Press, 1976. ISBN 0394403274
  • Country: The Music and the Musicians, New York: Abbeville Press, 1988. ISBN 0896598683
  • Cooking and Stealing: The TIN HOUSE Non-Fiction Reader, New York: Bloomsbury USA, 2004. ISBN 1582344868



See also



  1. ^ Tucker, Ken (23 December 1974). "Notes from the Academy". The Village Voice.
  2. ^ a b Ken Tucker Archived 2011-10-17 at the Wayback Machine at Rock Critic Archives
  3. ^ Tucker, Ken (17 May 1991). "Our Sons". Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  4. ^ Moses, Lucia (13 February 2013). "Ken Tucker Leaves Entertainment Weekly". AdWeek. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
  5. ^ Ken Tucker at NPR
  6. ^ a b Ken Tucker at IMDb
  7. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Billy Joel Biography at Rolling Stone (citing All Music Guide)
  8. ^ Graham, Mark (4 December 2008). "Seth MacFarlane Named 'Smartest Person on TV,' Ken Tucker Promptly Keels Over". Vulture blog. New York City: New York Media. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
  9. ^ Pulitzer Prize finalists for 1984 at
  10. ^ Powers, Ann (19 April 2011). "Fiction Pulitzer Sneaks Music Writing In Through The Back Door". The Record. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
  11. ^ Warren, James (13 April 1995). "Another Reason To Celebrate: Entertainment Weekly Garners Top Honors At National Magazine Awards". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
  12. ^ 35th Annual ASCAP Deems Taylor Award Recipients, ASCAP, 2002.
  13. ^ 37th Annual ASCAP Deems Taylor Award Recipients Archived 2011-08-27 at the Wayback Machine, ASCAP, 2004.
  14. ^ Tucker, Ken (7 October 2007). "A Formal Feeling". The New York Times Book Review. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
  15. ^ Tucker, Ken (20 March 2005). "'Rebels on the Backlot': Fight Club". The New York Times Book Review. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
  16. ^ About Us at The Best American Poetry
  17. ^ Tucker, Ken (26 May 1985). "Cats, Mice and History - The Avant-Carde of the Comic Strip". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
  18. ^ Heller, Steven (15 August 2011). "Times' Comics on a Roll". Imprint. Archived from the original on 2011-08-16. Retrieved 20 December 2012.