Nik Cohn (also written Nick Cohn) is a British rock journalist, born in London in 1946. He was brought up in Derry, in Northern Ireland, the son of historian Norman Cohn and Russian writer Vera Broido. An incomer to the tight knit town, he spent most of his time at the local record shop and the walk there, from his home on campus at Magee University, inspired one of his earliest stories, 'Delinquent in Derry'. He left the city to attend school in Newcastle upon Tyne in England.
Cohn is considered by some critics to be a father of rock criticism, thanks to his time on The Observer's early rock column entitled The Brief and his first major book Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom, first published in 1969. Cohn has since published articles, novels and music books regularly.
When reviewing a rough mix of The Who's rock opera Tommy, he told the group members that the album was less than spectacular. Knowing that Cohn was a fan of pinball, Pete Townshend suggested that the album's deaf, dumb, and blind title character could also be an exceptional pinball player. Cohn's opinion of the album immediately improved, and Townshend subsequently wrote “Pinball Wizard” to be added to the album.
During one stay in America in the late 1980s, he shared a flat with wrestler Chris Candido. Certain aspects of Cohn's personality were taken on by Candido in his “No Gimmicks Required” personae in ECW.
He wrote the 1976 New York Magazine article “Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night”, which was the source material for the movie Saturday Night Fever. In 1996, Cohn revealed the article to have been a complete fabrication, based only on clubgoers he knew from his native England. In the early 1980s, he was indicted on drug trafficking charges for importing $4 million-worth of Indian heroin. In exchange for testimony he was given five years probation and was fined $5,000.
Cohn was columnist for The Guardian in the mid to late 1990s as he researched his book on the underbelly of England 'Yes We Have No': Adventures in the Other England. He is also a regular contributor to Granta.