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TeenSet, Teen Fan Magazines, and Rock Journalism - Don't Let the Name Fool You

TeenSet, Teen Fan Magazines, and Rock Journalism

Don't Let the Name Fool You

By Allison Bumsted
Hardcover : 9781496853264, 256 pages, 72 b&w and color illustrations, October 2024
Paperback : 9781496853271, 256 pages, 72 b&w and color illustrations, October 2024
Expected to ship: 2024-10-15
Expected to ship: 2024-10-15

Table of contents

Chapter One:A Capitol Idea! The Origins of Teen Fan Magazines and TeenSet
Chapter Two:It’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll Journalism: The Absence of TeenSet Within a History Shaped by Critics
Chapter Three:Show Me TeenSet! TeenSet as a Valuable Source in Popular Music
Chapter Four:Taking Popular Music Seriously: Judith Sims and the Women on the Scene
Chapter Five:“A Nifty Music Magazine with a Misleading Name”: TeenSet’s Duality, Representation of and Interaction with an Evolving Musical and Cultural Landscape
Conclusion:“ETC. ETC.” Reconsidering Popular Music Journalism Historical Discourse

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