Crawdaddy! is the first U.S. magazine of rock music criticism. Seems like an unusual name for a rock magazine, right? Well, there once was a legendary venue in England called the Crawdaddy Club where the Rolling Stones played their first gig in 1962. It was from that notorious stage that Crawdaddy! the magazine took its name, which gave rock a new place to live — upon the page.
Dawning before the rise of both Rolling Stone and Creem magazines, Crawdaddy! was conceived by a 17-year-old Paul Williams in his dorm room at Swarthmore College. Williams started mimeographing and distributing a collection of criticisms about rock ‘n’ roll (most of which he wrote himself for the first issues). Until this time, publications in the States had only done this type of writing seriously for folk and jazz.
Crawdaddy! caught on quickly and grew from a fanzine to a full-fledged magazine with newsstand distribution. It is here where writers like Jon Landau, Sandy Pearlman, and Richard Meltzer first had the space to figure out the form of rock criticism.
Williams left the magazine in 1968. Crawdaddy! briefly suspended publication in 1969, yet later returned (with title unpunctuated) in 1970 with national distribution. At this time, it was the first magazine to feature a profile of Bruce Springsteen, published in March of 1973.
Paul Williams reclaimed the title in 1993 and published 28 more issues until he couldn’t withstand the financial drain anymore. Crawdaddy! ended its run in 2003.
However, the signal for rebirth has been answered. Crawdaddy! has returned for a literate look at music as the centerpiece of sociopolitical analysis. As an art form that reflects our society.