TeenSet, Teen Fan Magazines, and Rock Journalism
Don't Let the Name Fool You
The first book to closely examine the influence TeenSet had on popular music and cultural commentary as well as the value of teen fan magazines
Since the magazine’s first issue in 1964, TeenSet’s role in popular music journalism has been overlooked and underappreciated. Teen fan magazines, often written by women and assumed to be read only by young girls, have been misconstrued by scholars and journalists to lack “seriousness” in their coverage of popular music. TeenSet, Teen Fan Magazines, and Rock Journalism: Don't Let the Name Fool You disputes the prevailing conception that teen fan magazines are insignificant and elevates the publications to their proper place in popular music history.
Analyzing TeenSet across its five-year publication span, Allison Bumsted shows that the magazine is an important artifact of 1960s American popular culture. Through its critical commentary and iconic rock photography, TeenSet engaged not only with musical genres and scenes, but also broader social issues such as politics, race, and gender. These countercultural discourses have been widely overlooked due to a generalization of teen fan magazines, which have wrongly presumed the magazine to be antithetical to rock music and as unimportant to broader American culture at the time.
Bumsted also examines the leadership of editor Judith Sims and female TeenSet staff writers such as Carol Gold. By offering a counternarrative to leading male-oriented narratives in music journalism, she challenges current discourses that have marginalized women in popular music history. Ultimately, the book illustrates that TeenSet and teen fan magazines were meaningful not only to readers, but also to the broader development of the popular music press and 1960s cultural commentary.
"TeenSet, Teen Fan Magazines, and Rock Journalism draws readers into the journey of teenaged fans and teen magazines, capturing the energy and excitement of the phenomenon’s early days, as well as the manner in which it exerted significant cultural power during its heyday."- Kenneth Womack, music culture critic for Salon and author of Solid State: The Story of Abbey Road and the End of the Beatles