Alan di Perna
FOUNTAIN HILLS, Arizona, United States
BIO: ALAN DI PERNA
One of America’s foremost rock journalists, Alan di Perna has been writing professionally about popular music and culture since 1980. In that time, he has published thousands of articles in leading periodicals such as Billboard, Creem, Musician, Rolling Stone, Keyboard, Guitar Player, Guitar World, Future Music, Harp, the San Francisco Examiner Magazine and Yoga Journal. Mr. di Perna’s work has been widely syndicated throughout Europe, Asia, Latin America and in South Africa as well. He is the author of two books: Fender Classic Moments (Hal Leonard 1995), which was shortlisted for the Ralph J. Gleason Award, and The Guitarist’s Almanac (Hal Leonard 1998). Several generations of rock fans and musicians have grown up reading his irreverent yet erudite take on everything from punk rock to devotional mantras.
Mr. di Perna was born in Brooklyn, New York, “right around the same time rock and roll appeared on the planet,” he says. He came of age during the heady rush of the Sixties and began to play guitar and keyboards for local garage bands just as the Summer of Love was kicking in. He also began attending rock concerts at this time, catching early shows by legends like the Who, the Doors and the Jefferson Airplane at venues like New York’s storied Fillmore East. These events had a profound impact on his impressionable young mind.
When rock got boring in the early Seventies, Mr. di Perna devoted himself to the study of English Literature, earning his B.A. in that subject from the State University of New York at New Paltz and his M.A. at Michigan State University. But when punk rock hit in 1976-77, Mr. di Perna’s days amid the Groves of Academe were numbered. By 1980 he was back in New York, taking part in the city’s vibrant post punk music and arts scene.
“Punk rock saved me from a life of pushing Beowulf on innocent undergrads,” he once observed.
In the early Eighties, Mr. di Perna played synthesizers and guitar with synth pop performance artists Shox Lumania, appearing regularly at notorious nitespots like the Mudd Club, Danceteria, CBGBs, Maxwell’s of Hoboken and Washington D.C.’s 9:30 Club. He co-wrote the Shox Lumania single “Falling,” the video clip for which was released on Sony’s Danspak II compilation, a pioneering home video package.
In need of a day job during this period, Mr. di Perna accepted a post as Assistant Editor of the now-defunct Output magazine. This and early freelance pieces for Trouser Press and the proto-fanzine New Music gave him the opportunity to interview post punk/new wave icons such as XTC, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Echo and the Bunnymen, the Psychedelic Furs, the Teardrop Explodes, the Monochrome Set and Lena Lovich among many others.
In 1983, Mr. di Perna relocated to L.A. and decided to devote himself full time to writing, launching a freelance career that included regular contributions to BAM, Recording Engineer/Producer, Pro Sound News, On Location, Keyboard and others. During this time he also began to write ad copy for L.A. agencies Wilkerson Advertising, Cole & Weber and the Phelps Group, helping create print campaigns for clients such as Panasonic/RAMSA, RolandCorp US and Fender Musical Instruments.
A major milestone in Mr. di Perna’s career came in 1986, when he began a long and fruitful association with the late, lamented Musician magazine. As that publication’s L.A. correspondent and Music Technology editor, he created a series of “pulp fiction” style pieces on the MIDI computer synthesizer revolution, considerably raising the bar for imaginative excellence in technical writing. At the same time he turned a series of memorable features and profiles on musical giants such as Frank Zappa, Ray Charles, Ziggy Marley, Bunny Wailer, McCoy Tyner, Carlos Santana and Dr. John among many others. And in 1988, Mr. diPerna’s work as editor of the Musician Guide to playing live earned the Donaldson Award for Editorial Achievement.
The early Nineties brought associations with Creem magazine and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Mr. diPerna served as a member of the NARAS Publications Advisory Committee between 1995 and 2002, becoming a frequent contributor to Grammy Magazine and the Academy’s website. To this day he remains an annual contributor to the Grammy Program Book published to accompany each year’s Awards ceremony. A well respected figure in the record industry he has also penned liner notes and artist bios for numerous labels, including Warner Brothers, American, Virgin, Polygram, MCA, RCA, Sony and Rhino.
But perhaps the most important affiliation Mr. di Perna formed in the early Nineties was with Guitar World magazine. His monthly cover stories, features and profiles for this publication have played a key role in Guitar World’s emergence as America’s best selling musicians’ magazine. These have included standout pieces on classic rockers like Keith Richards, Pete Townshend, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Yoko Ono, David Gilmour and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, Prince, Tom Petty and Aerosmith. In the metal arena, the diminutive, bespectacled Mr. di Perna has chilled with everyone from Ozzy and Eddie Van Halen to Marilyn Manson, Korn, Limp Bizkit, P.O.D and System of a Down. But one of his strongest areas of specialization has been reporting on punk rock for Guitar World. His interview features in this field have covered that gamut, from punk originators like the Sex Pistols, Ramones, Buzzcocks and Patti Smith right through to current Warped Tour faves like Green Day, the Used, AFI, Rancid and My Chemical Romance, among many others. Today, Mr. di Perna is still a key member of the Guitar World team, serving as the magazine’s Senior Editor.
“As a working class, Italian American guy from the boroughs of New York, Guitar World is definitely a big chunk of my karma,” he says of the gutsy rock mag, which commands a large readership in trailer parks and penal institutions.
The dawn of the new century has brought significant contributions to Pulse, Harp, Future Music, Metro Santa Cruz and the Yoga Journal. These days, Mr. di Perna lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his beloved wife of many years, Robin. He is a longtime student of yoga, and for the past six years has been studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism under the guidance of the Venerable Za Choeje Rinpoche, a direct disciple of the Dalai Lama.
Published writer: Yes