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Nick Tosches (/ˈtɑːʃəs/; born October 23,[1] 1949) is an American journalist, novelist, biographer, and poet. His 1982 biography of Jerry Lee Lewis, Hellfire, was praised by Rolling Stone magazine as "the best rock and roll biography ever written."[2][3]

Nick Tosches
BornNicholas P. Tosches
(1949-10-23) October 23, 1949 (age 69)
Newark, New Jersey, United States
OccupationBiographer, essayist, journalist, novelist, poet



Tosches was born in Newark, New Jersey. His surname originated from Albanian settlers in Italy, known as Arbëreshë; his grandfather emigrated from the village of Casalvecchio di Puglia to New York City in the late 19th century.[4]

According to his own account, Tosches "barely finished high school".[3] He had a variety of jobs, including working as a porter for his family's business in New Jersey, as a paste-up artist for the Lovable underwear company in New York City,[5][6] and later, in the early 1970s, as a snake hunter for the Miami Serpentarium, in Florida. A fan of early rock and roll and "oddball" records,[3] 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,"[2] 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."[3] He was fired by Rolling Stone for collaborating with Meltzer in filing record reviews under each other's byline.[6]

Tosches' 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. He subsequently wrote biographies of the singer and entertainer Dean Martin, the Sicilian financier Michele Sindona, the heavyweight boxer Sonny Liston, the country singer Emmett Miller, and the racketeer Arnold Rothstein.[2][6]

Tosches has worked as a contributing editor of Vanity Fair magazine.[4] His work has also been published in Esquire and Open City. He has published four novels, Cut Numbers (1988), Trinities (1994), In the Hand of Dante (2002), and Me and the Devil (2012); and a collection of poetry, Chaldea and I Dig Girls (1999). He also worked on Never Trust a Loving God, a book in collaboration with the French painter Thierry Alonso Gravleur, a friend of the writer.[7] He has described his literary influences as "Hesiod, Sappho, Christopher Marlowe, Ezra Pound, William Faulkner, Charles Olson, and God knows who else."[4] A compendium, The Nick Tosches Reader, collects writings from over the course of his career.

Tosches was featured on the popular Travel Channel show Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations in the episode "Disappearing Manhattan", in which he and Bourdain shared a drink at Sophie's in the East Village, a Manhattan dive bar, and discussed the changing nature of the city.



  • Tosches, Nick (1982). Hellfire : the Jerry Lee Lewis story. New York: Grove Press.
  • — (1982). Hellfire : the Jerry Lee Lewis story (Paperback ed.). New York: Dell.
  • Dangerous Dances: The Authorized Biography with Daryl Hall and John Oates, 1984, St. Martin's Press, ISBN 0-312-35716-8
  • Power on Earth, 1986
  • Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams, 1992
  • The Devil and Sonny Liston, 2000
  • Where Dead Voices Gather, 2001
  • King of the Jews, 2005

Fiction and poetryEdit

  • Cut Numbers, 1988
  • Trinities, 1994, St. Martin's, ISBN 0-312-95689-4
  • Chaldea and I Dig Girls, 1999
  • In the Hand of Dante, 2002
  • Me and the Devil, Little, Brown, 2012
  • Johnny's First Cigarette, Vagabonde, 2014
  • Under Tiberius, Little, Brown, 2015





Film and televisionEdit



  1. ^ Calendar of Historical Events, Births, Holidays and Observances
  2. ^ a b c Nunez, Christina. "Meet the Writers: Nick Tosches". Barnes and Noble. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d Doane, Rex (November 12, 1999). "Nick Tosches, the Man in the Leopard-Skin Loafers". Salon. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  4. ^ a b c Bloom, Michael. "Nick Tosches's Satisfaction". Scram Magazine. Archived from the original on 25 June 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  5. ^ Raab, Scott (December 13, 2012). "Nick Tosches: The ESQ&A". Esquire. Archived from the original on 2013-08-15. Retrieved 13 August 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  6. ^ a b c Miliard, Mike (September 26, 2002). "Saint Nick". The Phoenix. Archived from the original on 5 April 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  7. ^ Birnbaum, Robert. "Nick Tosches's Unpredictable Enthusiasms and Obsessions Are Worth Paying Attention To". Morning News. Retrieved 12 August 2013.

External linksEdit