Nicholas P. Tosches (; October 23, 1949 – October 20, 2019) was 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."


Tosches was born in Newark, New Jersey on October 23, 1949. 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. According to his own account, Tosches "barely finished high school". He did not attend college but was published for the first time in ''Fusion'' magazine at 19 years old. He also held 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, 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, he wrote for several rock music magazines, including ''Creem'' and ''Rolling Stone''. He was also reviews editor for ''Country Music'' magazine''.'' He has been described as "the best example of a good rock journalist who set out to transcend his genre and succeeded," 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." He was fired by ''Rolling Stone'' for collaborating with Meltzer in filing record reviews under each other's byline. 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, the soul/rock band Hall & Oates and the racketeer Arnold Rothstein. Tosches worked as a contributing editor of ''Vanity Fair'' magazine. His work was also published in ''Esquire'' and ''Open City''. He 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 he did in collaboration with his friend the French painter Thierry Alonso Gravleur. He described his literary influences as "Hesiod, Sappho, Christopher Marlowe, Ezra Pound, William Faulkner, Charles Olson, and God knows who else." A compendium, ''The Nick Tosches Reader'', collects writings from over the course of his career. Tosches was featured on the 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 died on October 20, 2019, at his home in Manhattan, three days before his 70th birthday.



* 1982 – * 1984 – * 1986 – * 1992 – * 2000 – * 2001 – * 2005 –

Fiction and poetry

* 1988 – * 1994 – * 1999 – * 2002 – * 2012 – * 2014 – * 2015 –


* 1977 – * 1984 – * 1991 – * 1999 – * 2002 – * 2009 – * 2011 –


* 2000 –


* ''Blue Eyes and Exit Wounds'', with Hubert Selby Jr., produced by the author Harold Goldberg, 1998 * ''Nick & Homer'', with Homer Henderson, 1998 * ''Fuckthelivingfuckthedead'', 2001 * ''For the taking: Vol. I from CHALDEA'' *
', with Austin Brookner, 2018

Film and television appearances

* ''Louis Prima: The Wildest!'', 1999 * ''Hubert Selby Jr: It/ll Be Better Tomorrow'', 2005 * ''Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride: Hunter S. Thompson on Film'', 2006 * ''Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations'' in the episode "Disappearing Manhattan", 2009


External links

Brief bio
''Rolling Stone''

''Vanity Fair''Episode 579 – Nick Tosches
of ''WTF with Marc Maron'' {{DEFAULTSORT:Tosches, Nick Category:1949 births Category:2019 deaths Category:20th-century American biographers Category:20th-century American male writers Category:20th-century American novelists Category:20th-century American poets Category:21st-century American biographers Category:21st-century American male writers Category:21st-century American novelists Category:21st-century American poets Category:American male non-fiction writers Category:American male novelists Category:American male poets Category:American music critics Category:American people of Arbëreshë descent Category:Boxing writers Category:Novelists from New Jersey Category:Writers from Newark, New Jersey