American Mass-Market Magazines

By Alan Nourie; Barbara Nourie | Go to book overview
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Paul Williams, Crawdaddy's founder and original editor; and Abbie Hoffman, then living underground and serving as "travel editor." Feature articles included interviews with John Lennon and Ken Kesey; a one-act play by Joseph Heller; Martin Mull interviewing Woody Allen; coverage of Watergate and the elections of 1972 and 1976; and several articles on the Jefferson Airplane that led Paul Williams to accuse Crawdaddy of being "stuck in the 1960's" 14

Until December 1978, Crawdaddy continued to maintain a "precarious balance" between its musical and social-political coverage. 15 During this time Knobler indulged in frequent soul-searching and exhortations to his readers to help him determine what direction the magazine should take--"More rock'n roll? More fiction and satire? Fuller political coverage? All glossy color photos? What?" 16 Then, in the December 1978 issue (number 91), Knobler announced that Crawdaddy's name would change to Feature beginning with the January 1979 issue.

In his first Feature editorial, Knobler wrote that the premier issue was "starting a new year with a new name and an original outlook." In truth, other than the name, little was new; contributors, columns, content, even the typeface went virtually unchanged. Indeed, "Crawdaddy" even appeared in small print above "Feature" on the cover. Feature lasted for only five monthly issues, until May 1979. With that issue, number 96, Crawdaddy/ Feature ceased altogether.

There are any number of reasons for Crawdaddy's failure to survive into the 1980s. Certainly when Paul Williams created it, it filled a void in the coverage of popular music. However, it fell victim to an erratic publishing history, stiff competition from the better-managed and more editorially consistent Rolling Stone, and, especially in its later years, a lack of editorial focus. And, finally, perhaps there was simply no more place for it, as Knobler intimated in his final Crawdaddy editorial. The underground had entered the mainstream; the counterculture that Crawdaddy wrote about and wrote for had become the culture. 17


Notes
1.
John Swenson, "Rock Dreams/Schemes: The History of Crawdaddy!," Crawdaddy, March 1976, p. 68. Early issues of Crawdaddy ( 1966-November 1971) were unavailable for examination. Information regarding these years was obtained from this and other secondary sources.
2.
Paul Williams, "Got Off of My Cloud!" Crawdaddy, 7 February 1966, n.p.
3.
"Williams, Paul (Steven)," Contemporary Authors, vol. 81-84 ( 1979).
4.
Williams, "Got Off of My Cloud!" n.p.
5.
Swenson. p. 67.
6.
Ibid.
8.
"Crawdaddy!" Newsweek, 11 December 1967, p. 114.
9.
Swenson, p. 68.

-91-

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