Greg Burk is a Los Angeles journalist who writes about extreme jazz, heavy metal, experimental/noise, deep-roots world sounds and other music. (He’s not to be confused with an unrelated Greg Burk who’s a fine younger jazz pianist.) Burk has worked the music/word mines since 1988, mostly as a staffer for L.A. Weekly, receiving first-place awards from the nationwide Association of Alternative Newsweeklies and from the Los Angeles Press Club. He left the Weekly in November 2006, and launched MetalJazz.com in early 2007.
On Christmas 1950, Burk was born into the farm community of Rockwell City, Iowa; his lawfully wedded parents were naval cadet Gerald Burk and high-school sweetheart Catherine. Two brothers, Jeffrey and Lindsay, followed during the family’s relocations to eight other cities ending in 1960. Greg began writing for his high-school newspaper in Tacoma, Washington, continuing as reviewer and entertainment editor for the student publication at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, where he also sang in a cover band. He graduated in 1973 with a degree in classical languages.
Lured by rock decadence and weary of postgraduate work washing dishes, in the spring of 1974 Burk moved to Los Angeles and started reviewing for small magazines. In 1977, he abandoned newsprint to form the punk band Dred Scott, which featured himself on vocals and songcraft, and college pal Chris August (who died in 2003) on bass. Dred Scott disbanded in 1985; before returning to journalism, Burk kept going for a few years with the rocking Romanoffs, as a solo folkie, and as a saxist with performance artist Johanna Went and jazz poet Phast Phreddie.
Burk has appeared as a talking head in the video documentaries Un-defining Punk (Susan Ricketts, 2000), Satan’s Top 40 (2001), Heavy: The Story of Metal (VH1, 2006) and God Gave Rock & Roll to You (BBC, 2007). With original Dred Scott guitarist Dave Van Heusen, Burk wrote the booklet notes to Rhino’s popular The Very Best of Deep Purple; his notes have also accompanied CDs by Henry Kaiser, the Eastside Sinfonietta and Surrealestate.
Since 1988, Burk has been married to noted libel attorney Deborah Drooz.