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Rock Writer Charles M. Young Dies at 63

Charles M. Young

Charles M. Young, the critic and journalist who was among the first to champion New York’s punk scene on a national scale, has passed away at the age of 63 after a long battle with brain cancer.

Billboard offers a concise overview of Young’s contributions, which include scores of witty, insightful dispatches from the front line of CBGB. Writing as the Rev. Charles M. Young, he joined Rolling Stone in 1976, covering a diverse array of artists — not only punk acts like the Ramones and the Sex Pistols, but more commercially successful artists such as Kiss and Ted Nugent, both of whom received the cover story treatment courtesy of Young’s inimitable style.

Rolling Stone offers a glimpse into Young’s first tenure at the magazine, which ended in 1980; the article notes that “he was a member of the RS softball team who lost to a team fielded by the Eagles in a 1978 grudge match” — forging a bond with Don Henley in the process that would lead to a lengthy piece on the making of the band’s ‘Long Run’ LP — hung around with Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, and played in the magazine’s house band, the Dry Heaves.

The ’80s found Young at Musician Magazine, where he climbed the ranks and eventually assumed the Executive Editor post in the early ’90s. He also surfaced at Playboy, where he contributed a number of album reviews, but his focus gradually shifted to politics; some of his later Rolling Stone pieces included profiles of Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky, and he co-founded the news site This Can’t Be Happening!, where his loss is lamented in an obituary post that describes him as “a perceptive and peerlessly witty analyst of the American political and cultural scene.”

Young’s final days were chronicled at the Friends of Chuck blog, which includes a donation link to the Charles M. Young Fund. You can also read Young’s complete Rolling Stone archives here.

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