PERSONAL: Married; children: two daughters. Education: Attended Marquette University.
CAREER: Music critic. Began career as a copyeditor, Quad City Times, Davenport, IA; also worked as a police beat reporter and in many other newspaper departments; Chicago Tribune, Chicago, IL, rock critic, 1990–; co-host with Jim DiRogaitis of Sound Opinions (talk show), WXRT-FM radio, Chicago, IL, beginning 1999, then WTTW television, Chicago.
AWARDS, HONORS: Lisagor journalist award, for "Through the Eyes of a Critic."
Wilco: Learning How to Die, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Contributor to numerous periodicals, including Rolling Stone, and to books, including Encyclopedia Britannica, Harrison: A Rolling Stone Tribute to George Harrison, and The Trouser Press Guide to '90s Rock.
SIDELIGHTS: Since 1990 Greg Kot has been the rockand roll music critic at the Chicago Tribune and a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone magazine. "I've probably been through just about every department in a newspaper you could think of in the course of twenty odd years," he told Andre Lapointe in an interview on RockCritics.com. Kot's first book, Wilco: Learning How to Die, focuses on the popular cult band with roots in Chicago. Kot directs most of his attention to the band's enigmatic leader, Jeff Tweedy, whose talent New York Times Book Review contributor Joe Klein compared to Bob Dylan's genius, saying that they "can transform lyrics, back beat and electric guitar playing into an existential statement." In the biography, Kot paints a portrait of a band that has never been commercially successful in terms of pop rock stardom. Even their record label, Warner Bros., dropped them after they submitted Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which went on to be commercially successful, selling nearly a half million copies. Tweedy is at the center of Kot's profile, as he is beset by migraines and panic attacks and battles continuing fallouts with his band mates.
Writing in Rolling Stone, Gavin Edwards noted that Kot "tells this story well and thoroughly, if a touch earnestly, with frank interviews from every important figure in Tweedy's career." In a review of Wilco for the Arlington Heights, Illinois Daily Herald, Eric Krol wrote that "Kot's greatest strength as a critic is the often poetic way he describes music that itself is poetry. His talent is on display here." Chicago Tribune contributor Jonathan Perry called Kot's book a "vividly detailed, crisply written biography," and went on to note that, "Ultimately,… the parallel, and at times self-destructive, impulses that have driven and defined the intraband relationships … are the real revelation here." Writing in the Boston Globe, Ryan Mulcahy felt that Kot overly praises the band and that the book could have included "fewer rants regarding the corporate dilution of rock." Nevertheless, the critic concluded, "the enduring gift of Kot's enthusiasm—an absorbing, detailed narrative—dwarfs any undeserved praise of the band."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 2004, Gordon Flagg, review of Wilco: Learning How to Die, p. 1684.
Boston Globe, August 19, 2004, Ryan Mulcahy, review of Wilco, p. D7.
Chicago Sun-Times, September 7, 2000, "Rock 'n' Roll Talk Show Outgrows WXRT Host," p. 39; September 26, 2003, Mike Thomas, "'Sound' and Fury—And Camera; Music Critics DeRogatis, Kot to Bring Their Many Opinions to TV Audiences," p. 51.
Chicago Tribune, September 27, 2003, Steve Johnson, "Critics Taking Rock Format to WTTW," p. 27; June 20, 2004, Jonathan Perry, review of Wilco, p. 2.
Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), June 18, 2004, Erick Krol, review of Wilco, p. 5.
Entertainment Weekly, June 25, 2004, Raymond Fiore, review of Wilco, p. 171.
New York Times Book Review, June 13, 2004, Joe Klein, review of Wilco, p. 12.
Publishers Weekly, May 24, 2004, review of Wilco, p. 56.
Rolling Stone, June 24, 2004, Gavin Edwards, review of Wilco, p. 192.
St Louis Post-Dispatch, July 1, 2004, Daniel Durchholz, review of Wilco, p. 4.
USA Today, December 2, 2004, Anthony DeBarros, review of Wilco, p. D10.
Public Broadcasting Service Web site, http://www.pbs.org/ (February 23, 2005), "Rock around the Clock."
RockCritics.com, http://www.rockcritics.com/ (February 23, 2005), Andrew Lapointe, "'It's the Greatest Beat in the World …' Says Chicago Tribune Music Critic Greg Kot."
SoundOpinions.net, http://www.soundopinions.net/ (February 23, 2005).
Zulkey.com, http://www.zulkey.com/ (February 23, 2005), interview with Kot.