An American biographer, pop culture expert, and Boston University professor of journalism, he is most famous for works such as Homegrown in Florida (2012), Mile Marker Zero (2011), and Rock and Roll is Here to Stay (2000).
He was born in Indiana and grew up as a military brat, living in Florida, Nebraska, Texas, Germany, and England during his childhood. He worked for an Indiana newspaper when he was only fourteen years old.
In the 1980s, he earned his Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma. He later served as Chairman of Boston University's Department of Journalism.
With his second wife, Nicole Cisneros McKeen, he had four children. The father of two daughters and one son from his first marriage, he had seven children in total.
He published Outlaw Journalist, his acclaimed biography of Hunter S. Thompson, in 2008.