Senior Pop Music Critic, San Francisco Chronicle

35 Years On the Aisle: Musings of a Pop Music Critic

For more than thirty years, Joel Selvin has covered pop music for the San Francisco Chronicle. Having worked 1967-68 as a copy boy at the paper, Selvin began contributing articles to the Sunday Datebook in 1969. He was hired in 1972 as assistant to columnist John L. Wasserman and began filing reviews from the local rock and r&b scene in the pages of the daily newspaper, in addition to the interviews and features he wrote for the Sunday entertainment section. On Wasserman’s death in 1979, he assumed full control of the Chronicle’s pop music coverage.

Over the course of his career, Selvin has covered the great events of the field – from Bob Marley’s first American appearance to the final Sex Pistols show. From the 1985 Live Aid concert to the death of George Harrison last year, Selvin put pop music on the front page. He assumed the position of pop music editor in 1994 and began directing the entire pop music coverage of the Chronicle, assigning, editing and overseeing other staff writers, still contributing his own reporting and reviews to the pages.

He has written eight books on the subject, served as curator of the first temporary exhibit at Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, taught the history of the music at a university level for fifteen years. He is the winner of several awards for his writing and his reporting has been widely anthologized. He produced the comeback album by surf guitar king Dick Dale. In San Francisco, Joel Selvin is a brand-name rock journalist.

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