It could be said that Dave DiMartino has the life many may wish they had – Cameron Crowe included – both in and out of the music business. He was born in an ideal boomer year (1953), in a great locale (New York before moving to Miami), and raised in a music-friendly household that provided the springboard for his creative and career pursuits.While attending Michigan State University, he worked at the school radio station, interviewing the likes of Big Star and Captain Beefheart.
Soon after he landed squarely at Creem Magazine and almost as swiftly into an editor’s position. He wrote many of the stories about bands, festivals and popular phenomena that linked musical eras; garage and punk to new wave and brit pop of the ‘80s. Since then, DiMartino’s been the most visible guy you’ve never seen.
Departing just before the office relocated to Los Angeles, he became West Coast bureau chief at Billboard for five years. He then spent the next two as a senior writer at Entertainment Weekly and spent six months as acting West Coast editor for Musician while Bill Flanagan was off writing his U2 book. During that time he wrote Singer-Songwriters: Pop Music’s Performer-Composers from A to Zevon. Dave DiMartino has written liner notes for The Best of Love. To balance the hipness factor, he also did so for Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. Go ahead, ask him about the Doors. He witnessed their notorious performance in Miami in 1969, he was consultant editor for Chuck Crisafulli’s Moonlight Drive: The Story Behind Every Doors Song, 1967-78 and penned the notes for the band’s The Complete Studio Recordings box set. He was U.S. editor of the 3-volume Music in The 20th Century encyclopedia (M.E. Sharpe, 1998).]
His job of the past 13 years as executive editor for Yahoo!Music (formerly Launch.com) has taken him to music conferences and studio stages for soundcasts and interviews. In the latter months of 2006 he took time to interview by phone, instant message, and e-mail to share his accounts of growing up with and working for Creem and beyond.
– A.C. Rhodes
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AR: What was your first experience at Creem?
DD: I was in grad school – I had a B.S. in psychology, but since I was making money writing, I decided to go for a masters in journalism. I did all my course work, so all I had to do was write a thesis, and I had five years to finish it. I got the subject approved, which was a big deal – to compare and contrast artists profiled in Downbeat, the jazz magazine, since its inception, and its coverage of black artists to white versus their historical and sales standing, to see if it was biased, that sort of thing. I was the music writer at the Michigan State paper from ’73 to ’76, but graduated in ’75, so I wrote for another year until someone said, “Why is this guy who doesn’t go to school here anymore writing for us?” I was back the next two years for grad school and was the entertainment editor from ’78 to ’79. I was pretty poor. Then the A&M campus rep told me Creem magazine was looking for an editorial assistant, which I was very happy to hear. I liked Creem and had been reading it since the first nationally distributed issue– the Jackson Five cover in ’71 – so I thought that would be great. I went down to interview with Sue Whitall and Linda Barber. The editorial assistant, Therese Oyler, had taken time off and then quit – and they needed a third hand. So I was happy to get on board.
AR: And it wasn’t that you were abandoning the idea of grad school since you had some years to finish during the Creem stint.
DD: I was so happy to possibly work there that I never really spent any time asking simple questions like “How much money do I get?” So I was kind of stunned when I got my first check, because it was so horribly low. But it was okay. It wasn’t that big a deal. My brother-in-law recently told me his father was stunned beyond belief back then. He was a Republican businessman and thought, “Oh, my God – what an idiot my daughter’s boyfriend is.”
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