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Tim Riley (born 1960)[1] reviews pop and classical music for NPR,[2] and has written for The New York Times,[3] truthdig, the Huffington Post, the Washington Post, and He was trained as a classical pianist[2] at Oberlin College[4] and Eastman School of Music.[5]

Tim Riley
Tim Riley

1960 (age 58–59)
OccupationMusic critic, historian, biographer

Since 2009, he has taught digital journalism at Emerson College in Boston.[6] Brown University sponsored Riley as its critic-in-residence in 2008.[6] His first book was Tell Me Why: A Beatles Commentary (Knopf/Vintage 1988), a critique of the Beatles' music, which The New York Times said brought "new insight to the act we've known for all these years".[1] The book established Riley as an author of rock history critiques. His television appearances include Morning Joe,[7] PBS NewsHour,[8] CBS Morning and Evening News, MTV, and the History Channel.

Riley gave a keynote address at Beatles 2000, the first international academic conference in Jyväskylä, Finland.[5] Since then, he has given lectures on censorship in the arts and rock history.[6] His subsequent projects include the music metaportal Riley Rock Index[9] and a biography of John Lennon (Hyperion, 2011),[10][11] which was included in Kirkus Reviews' list of the Best Nonfiction of 2011.[12]

In 2016, the National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Association awarded Riley the Best Book Review Award at LA's Millennium Biltmore Hotel as part of the Los Angeles Press Awards. The honor cited his critique of Peter Guralnick's Sam Phillips biography.


  • Tell Me Why: A Beatles Commentary (1988), ISBN 978-0394550619
  • Hard Rain: A Dylan Commentary (1992), ISBN 978-0394578897
  • Madonna Illustrated (1992), ISBN 978-1562829834
  • Fever: How Rock 'n' Roll Transformed Gender in America (2004), ISBN 978-0312286118
  • Lennon: The Man, the Myth, the Music - The Definitive Life (2011), ISBN 978-1401324520
  • What Goes On: The Beatles, Their Music, and Their Time (Walter Everett and Tim Riley, 2019), ISBN 978-0190949877


  1. ^ a b Pareles, Jon (June 19, 1988). "IN SHORT: NONFICTION". New York Times. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  2. ^ a b Cantrell, Cindy (November 6, 2011). "Concord author writes a John Lennon biography". Boston Globe. Retrieved September 16, 2012.(registration required)
  3. ^ Riley, Tim (December 6, 2013). "'Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years, Volume 1,' by Mark Lewisohn". The New York Times. Retrieved September 15, 2014.
  4. ^ "Alumni News". Conservatory Magazine. Oberlin College. Fall 1998. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Alumni Notes" (PDF). Eastman Notes. Eastman School of Music. Spring–Summer 2002. p. 28. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  6. ^ a b c "Journalism Faculty - Tim Riley". Emerson College. Retrieved September 15, 2014.
  7. ^ "Morning Joe". MSNBC. October 14, 2011. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  8. ^ Brown, Jeffrey (September 9, 2009). "Decades Later, Beatles Hits Continue to Draw New Fans". PBS NewsHour. Retrieved September 16, 2012.
  9. ^ "Riley Rock Index". Retrieved September 15, 2014.
  10. ^ Parker, James (October 7, 2011). "John Lennon's Primal Screams". The New York Times. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  11. ^ "Nonfiction Review: Lennon: the Man, the Myth, the Music--the Definitive Life". Publishers Weekly. July 11, 2011. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
  12. ^ Liebtrau, Eric (ed.). "Best Nonfiction of 2011". Kirkus Reviews. Archived from the original on January 15, 2013. Retrieved September 16, 2012.

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