Full Coverage: A history of rock journalism in Australia
Monash University Press, $36.99 pb, 310 pp
In the film Almost Famous (2000), director Cameron Crowe’s alter ego, fifteen-year-old William Miller, doggedly pursues his dream of breaking into rock journalism. He cold-calls legendary music journalist Lester Bangs (marvellously played by a dishevelled Philip Seymour Hoffman). Next thing we know, he is commissioned by Rolling Stone editor Ben Fong-Torres to head out on the road with fictitious band Stillwater to write a story that ends up on the cover of Rolling Stone. If only it were that easy.
Rock journalism, in its infancy, was fuelled more by passion than good sense. With few literary models, and virtually zero financial return, it was mostly a case of making it up as you went along, while endeavouring to stay abreast of a fast-evolving field. Music journalist Samuel J. Fell’s Full Coverage: A history of rock journalism in Australia fills a welcome gap in the history of journalism, charting as it does the rise and fall of the local music magazines, along with their founders and contributors, that helped shape our perceptions of rock music, and associated genres, in this country.