Everything You Wanted To Know About Bob Lefsetz (But Were Afraid To Ask Because All-Caps Comes Off LIKE YELLING)

Mar 27th, 2008 // 6 Comments

lefsetz.jpgToday’s Washington Post has a lengthy profile of professional “professional music-industry gadfly” Bob Lefsetz, whose Lefsetz Letter has been infuriating music executives and wearing out his keyboards’ caps-lock keys since 1986. Subscribers to his letters may know about his penchant for skiing, his love of classic rock, and his willingness to get into extended e-mail scraps with the likes of Kid Rock and AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips, but what else makes this man tick? And how can he afford all those trips to Vail? A few highlights of the profile after the jump.

The Lefsetz Letter has been around for 22 years. That’s as long as Poison’s recording career! “‘One of the early subjects … was Stevie Winwood and whether the fact that he was dancing in his videos was [expletive] his credibility.’ (Short answer: Yes.)”

Bob TALKS like he WRITES, so if you’re ever going to MEET him, get ready for a little bit of yelling… and a lot of tangents. “Onstage, addressing the concert promoters, Lefsetz sounds like his work reads, his voice unmodulated, his mind wandering. He’s blustery and entertaining and insightful and infuriating, and he doesn’t pull any punches. … Lefsetz is slumped on a bench outside a bookstore, telling yet another splenetic, circuitous story that’s loaded with profanity, asides and Bob Dylan lyrics.”

Bob’s reasons for going DIY weren’t all that dissimilar for many aspiring bloggers’ reasons for venturing into WordPress for the first time. “Thinking back to high school, Lefsetz eventually ‘got back in touch with wanting to be a writer’ and unsuccessfully pitched a few magazines. Then, thumbing through a copy of Billboard, he had a Lefsetzian revelation: ‘This is [expletive] TERRIBLE! I can do better than THIS!’ “

Bob doesn’t have a lot of money. “He’s done some consulting work for record companies, including Warner Bros., which seems to run counter to his assertion that he’s beholden to no one. (‘It’s not something I pursue,’ Lefsetz says of consulting contracts.) And he used to have a radio show, too, until the station sold his hours for infomercials. ‘I live on a no-cash basis,’ he says. ‘I live in a rent-controlled apartment in Santa Monica. … I don’t have kids or all these other expenses people have.’

He is rich in super-generous friends, though! “‘If I’m going to dinner, somebody else is picking up the tab.’ … Lefsetz is dating Felice Mancini, daughter of the late composer Henry Mancini, and the family owns a condo in Vail. ‘People have this fantasy that I’m living some exotic, marvelous life. … I laugh when people think there’s a big pile of money somewhere. … NO! You’re just not willing to live and sacrifice the way I do. And believe me, I’ve sacrificed.’ ”

But what’s he richest in? Admirers! Well, people who read his stuff, anyway. “It’s exactly what Lefsetz seems to be looking for: A response, a reaction, a signal that his voice is being heard, even if he can’t quite digest the idea that anybody would pay him the slightest notice. ‘I write something every day, and I cannot believe that people are reading it,’ he says. But it’s his finest moment when they are, because every performer — every act — needs an audience.” All together now: Awww.

Rage Against The Machine [Washington Post]

  1. Anonymous

    I read him all the time!
    I find him inspirational actually!
    He has the courage to scream about it…
    I do appreciate that a whole heck of a lot!

  2. CortneyH

    A marginally talented, ultra-entitled, elitist, quasi-employed dude who mooches off a rich lady? If his letter writing career doesn’t pan out, he could always move to Portland or Brooklyn and front an indie rock band.

  3. Bob F.

    He comes off like such a cranky old man, but like my Gramps, he’s usually right. You just have to be patient with the old-guy storytelling to get to the moral of the story.

  4. Chris N.

    WHAT? I CAN’T HEAR YOU UNLESS YOU TYPE IN ALL CAPS!

  5. Anonymous

    i loathe sifting through his ski-day reviews and 1000 word rants about one verse of lyrics from some unknown song of the 70′s, but i do it anyway because often enough, he hits the nail on the head so hard that i can only think “thank you, thank you bob”

  6. Captain Wrong

    @CortneyH: Bravo. Of course, I think he likes (or at least gives a fuck about) the Eagles more than any indie rock band worth it’s cellist would care to admit to.

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