The Cramps on NY Rocker [Photo: Curtis Knapp]On the official blog of the Society of Publication Designers, graphic designer Robert Newman has created a gallery of front cover images from various issues of New York Rocker. These covers, most designed and art directed by the gifted Elizabeth Van Itallie, feature outstanding photographs by Teri Bloom, Deborah Feingold, Laura Levine, Ebet Roberts, and Ann Summa, among others. For the uninitiated among you, a seriously abbreviated version of the New York Rocker story goes something like this:

After publishing the fanzines Jamz and The Rock Marketplace, the late Alan Betrock published the first issue of New York Rocker in the spring of 1976. Through Fall 1977, Alan published ten more issues and ran the magazine pretty much as a one-man show with some business/advertising help from his friend Ken Kristol. After living in Minneapolis for five years, I moved back to NYC in Fall ’77 and later bought NYR from Alan Betrock, a dear friend of mine until his untimely death in 2000. 

I served as publisher and editor of NYR until the end of 1982: putting the magazine on a monthly schedule, obtaining national distribution, recruiting and directing a small but intensely dedicated NYC staff and a much larger group of freelance contributors in the US and the UK. We worked in a half-floor loft at 166 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan where the floor was never mopped and you never knew who’d be asleep on the sad salvaged office sofa when you came to work in the morning. We saw a million gigs, listened to a million records, and published at least a million words about all of it without the use of a single computer.

A.S. Atop Unsold NY Rocker Issues, 1982 | Photo by Laura Levine

A.S. Atop Unsold NY Rocker Issues, 1982 | Photo by Laura Levine

Among those who made crucial contributions to this chronically under-financed but heroically creative effort were Byron Coley, Michael Hill, Ira Kaplan, Annene Kaye, David Keeps, Laura Levine, Glenn Morrow, Chris Nelson, Suzette Rodriguez, Roy Trakin, Elizabeth Van Itallie, Janet Waegel, and Drew Wheeler. It is one of the blessings of my life to have remained friends with nearly all of these individuals.

A total of 55 issues were produced until New York Rocker expired in late 1982. About a year later, the magazine was sold to a new publisher and briefly revived for a few more poorly distributed issues before going out of business for the second and last time. Through a series of contractual twists and turns, all rights to NYR then reverted back to me. I own the domain names and — I hope this SPD cover gallery will spur me to add more actual content to the site, which has for too long remained simply “under construction.”


  1. Tim B. says:

    Beautiful images Andy. Maybe you didn’t know, but I’ve been collecting NYR covers on Stupefaction, as I’ve found them, for some time now as well:

    They are not perfect scans but I think the artwork & “cool factor” transcends that.


  2. Laura Levine says:

    One small step for Andy, one giant leap for mankind! Can’t wait ’til you start scanning, Andy. Some of the happiest times of my life were spent at my home away from home at 166 Fifth.

  3. Annene says:

    Andy, I’m thrilled that you included me as a “crucial contributor” in regards to the NYR. You taught me so much, and even when I was so frustrated with you that I thought I’d have a fucking seizure, I would have walked off the side of a high building if you were leading the way.

  4. Annene says:

    Also, I love you.

  5. Andy says:

    Great to hear from you, Annene. Remember the NY Rocker company motto: “Frustration – Rock Action – Liberation!”

  6. Andy says:


  7. Andy says:

    Thanks for the tip, Tim, and for your support!

  8. EVI says:

    Hi Andy, Hi Laura, Hi Annene!
    Thanks, Tim, for posting the Stupefaction link. All those issues . . . some I have not seen for years.

    Still seeking liberation through rock action.

  9. Ann Summa says:

    Thanks for this Andy and ditto on including me! I remember well my first trip to NY from LA, hauling my portfolio from the NYR up to Trouser Press to Creem and etc., finally all the way uptown to Rolling Stone…and by far the best experience was at the Rocker!!! Thanks for giving me a chance…

  10. Steve Ellman says:

    About damn time!

  11. Diana says:

    I’d sell my soul to the devil for a copy of that March 82 issue with Jeffrey Lee Pierce on the cover. Got any laying around you want me to take off your hands?

  12. Andy says:

    Sorry, Diana — I don’t have extra copies of any back issues of NY ROCKER. But that was good ‘un!

  13. perttu says:

    Sir, your magazine introduced me to Blasters of which I’m forever grateful.

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