Many of the mag’s contributors were inspired to start their own ‘zines, which spawned a music communications network that still exists to this day.
Born in San Francisco on 31 January 1949, Greg Shaw (pictured at right) created his first fanzine – Mojo Navigator – in 1966, pre-dating both Crawdaddy and Rolling Stone by a year. In fact, a young Jann Wenner came to Shaw for magazine launching advice.
Within months the paper grew from a two-page affair to a 32-page colour magazine and Shaw found himself tripping with Timothy Leary and hanging with Jimi Hendrix and other Haight-Ashbury soon-to-be-legends.
Writing for all the rock tabloids of the era, including a popular singles column in Creem, Shaw, in turn, gave early voice to many of rock’s finest journalists, both in his first ‘zine and then in Who Put The Bomp.
Lured to Los Angeles in 1972 to work for United Artists, Shaw unbelievably persuaded the label to publish a music magazine.
His writers followed, and Phonograph Record Magazine is now considered to be one of the legendary magazines of the 70s.
In 1974 he launched pioneering American indie label Bomp! Records with The Flamin’ Groovies You Tore Me Down 45, and when the punk rock revolution finally came, Shaw issued early LA efforts (The Zeros, Weirdos) and opened a retail outlet that served as an LA scenesters hang-out.
Also in 1974 Shaw became The Flamin’ Groovies manager, getting them signed to Sire and frequently travelling to the UK on tour with them. Those trips led to him urging Sire Records to sign The Sex Pistols early in their career.
After folding the ‘zine in 1979,
“New Wave outdated itself,” said Shaw. “The term was snapped up by legions of limp, second-rate bands hoping the majors would see them as a safe alternative to punk . . . what New Wave has done is not to retreat into the past, but to draw inspiration from the past”.
In the 1980s, Bomp! released 30 volumes of Pebbles collections, modelled on Lenny Kaye’s garage rock Nuggets set, which Shaw had released on Sire when he was producing great anthologies (including a wonderful History Of British Rock series) for the label in the 70s.
Meanwhile, his Hollywood club (The Cavern) was devoted to the burgeoning American garage rock scene and covered in People magazine and on national TV.
Ill health slowed him down following a brief move to England to start the Ubik label, which failed when Rough Trade – its distributor – went bankrupt in 1992. His last obsession was The Brian Jonestown Massacre, the subject of a documentary film, Dig!, which featured interviews with the band’s first benefactor.
Shaw declined co-opt offers for Bomp! from major labels for years, but he saw the music he loved go mainstream again before his death in 2005 of a diabetes-related heart attack, aged 55.