|This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2010)|
|Categories||Music, show business|
|First issue||17 June 1954|
|Final issue||6 April 1991|
Record Mirror was a British weekly music newspaper, published between 1954 and 1991. The paper became respected by both mainstream pop music fans and serious record collectors. It was the most progressive of the four competing music weeklies of its day, the others being Melody Maker, New Musical Express (NME) and Disc magazine.
Launched two years after the NME, Record Mirror never attained the circulation figures of its higher-profile rival, but during the 1960s and early 1970s it did achieve a respectable circulation based upon its reputation. The first ever UK album chart was published in Record Mirror in 1956, and during the 1980s it was the only consumer music paper to carry the official UK singles and UK albums charts used by the BBC for Radio 1 and Top of the Pops, as well as the equivalent US Billboard charts.
The title ceased publication in April 1991 when owners United Newspapers closed or sold off most of their consumer magazines, including their two music titles Record Mirror and Sounds, in order to concentrate on their newspaper business. In 2010 Giovanni di Stefano bought the rights to the name Record Mirror and relaunched it as an online music gossip website in 2011, bearing little relation to its previous incarnation. The website became inactive following di Stefano's conviction for fraud in March 2013 and subsequent jailing.
Early years, 1954–1963
Record Mirror was founded by former Weekly Sporting Review editor Isidore Green who encouraged the same combative form of journalism as NME. Staff writers included Dick Tatham, Peter Jones and later Ian Dove. However, Green's background was in show business and in the paper's format he placed an emphasis on the British music hall, a tradition which was rapidly dying out at that time. He also published articles and interviews connected with theatre and musical personalities. His publication's interest in gossip from TV, radio, stage and screen at home and abroad was not well received.
On 22 January 1955 Record Mirror became the second music paper (after the NME) to publish a singles chart. The chart was a Top 10, initially compiled from postal returns from 24 record stores which were funded by the paper itself. On 8 October the same year the chart was expanded to a Top 20, and by 1956 the returns from more than 60 stores were being sampled. The chart hit trouble in April 1961 when increased postage costs affected Record Mirror's funding of the postal returns, and on 24 March 1962 the paper abandoned its own charts and began using those of Record Retailer instead, which had begun in March 1960.
The first ever album charts in the UK were published in Record Mirror on 28 July 1956.
For two months in 1959, Record Mirror failed to appear due to a national printing strike. On its return, Green had renamed it Record and Show Mirror with the majority of space being devoted to traditional show business. By the end of 1960 the circulation had fallen to only eighteen thousand copies and Decca Records, the main shareholder of Record and Show Mirror, became uneasy with their investment. They had been buying shares for years in order to support Record and Show Mirror, but they did not do so to influence editorial content. Nevertheless their involvement precluded much advertising from their main rival EMI.
In March 1961, Decca replaced Green with their own editor, Jimmy Watson, a former Decca group press officer. Watson changed the title to New Record Mirror and streamlined the paper and eliminated the show business element. Watson oversaw a rapid circulation rise, aided by an editorial team of Peter Jones, Ian Dove and Norman Jopling. He also brought in freelance columnists James Asman, Benny Green and DJ David Gell to implement an innovative chart coverage including jazz, country and pop music. This eventually included the official UK Top 50 singles, Top 30 LPs and Top 10 EPs, as compiled by Record Retailer. The paper also listed the USA Top 50 singles, as compiled by Cash Box. The inclusion of charts such as the Top 20 singles of five years ago and R&B releases gave a far broader coverage than any other pop weekly.
Over the next few years regular features such as Ian Dove's "Rhythm & Blues Round Up", Peter Jones's "New Faces" and Norman Jopling's "Fallen Idols and Great Unknowns", combined with New Record Mirror's specialist music coverage, helped the circulation rise rapidly to nearly seventy thousand copies a week. An example of this was The Great Unknowns series which included music by Smokey Robinson and Carla Thomas and others recording on the Motown, Stax and Atlantic record labels. This was at a time when the charts in the USA were largely inaccessible to British radio listeners and Tony Hall's "America's Hot 10" on Radio Luxembourg and AFN was the only other similar chart. At this time New Record Mirror was the only music paper which specialised in adult pop music, whereas Melody Maker largely concentrated on jazz and NME aimed more at a much younger age group.
New Record Mirror became the first national publication to publish an article on The Beatles, and the first to feature many other groups from the Sixties' UK beat boom era, including The Rolling Stones, The Searchers, The Who, and The Kinks. Bill Harry, founder and editor of the Liverpool publication Mersey Beat, was employed to write a column on the Liverpool music scene. Other local columnists reported on the burgeoning interest in beat music in other major UK cities such as Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield and Newcastle. New Record Mirror took an interest in black American R&B artists, becoming a valuable reference source for UK R&B fans. The paper also maintained a regular flow of articles on old style rock and roll.
During 1963 Decca Records' chairman Edward Lewis sold a substantial share of Decca's interest in Record Mirror to John Junor, editor of the Sunday Express. Junor had been intrigued by a new printing method being developed by Woodrow Wyatt. This was a four-colour printing process being used at Wyatt's print works in Banbury. Junor subsequently began looking for an association to run a trial for this printing process, prior to printing the Sunday Express in colour, and chose New Record Mirror.
Junor temporarily moved in his own Sunday Express production team to Shaftesbury Avenue and the New Record Mirror became more mainstream. In November 1963, the paper returned to the name Record Mirror, and featured a colour picture of the Beatles on the front cover, becoming the first music paper to be printed in full colour. Although the entire first print run of 120,000 sold out, the following issue saw the circulation fall to about sixty thousand. Junor swiftly sacked editor Jimmy Watson and replaced him by promoting Peter Jones.
Jones worked to maintain the paper's popular newer image and kept the specialist articles, to satisfy more committed readers. The circulation recovered and he hired former NME journalist Richard Green. The paper successfully continued with the same editorial format throughout the Sixties. Following the acquisition in 1962 of NME by the publishers Odhams, Record Mirror was the only independent popular music newspaper; its offices became a haven for those in the pop business.
During 1969 Record Mirror was acquired by Record Retailer and was incorporated into the larger Record Retailer offices in Carnaby Street. The acquisition of Record Mirror also saw the magazine change printers, drop full colour pin-ups and increase its size to a larger tabloid format. Peter Jones continued as editor, supported by Valerie Mabbs, Lon Goddard, Rob Partridge, Bill McAllister (the first music journalist to herald the burgeoning talents of soon-to-be superstars Elton John and Rod Stewart), and broadcast specialist Rodney Collins, who had moved over from the sister publication Record Retailer. Collins's links with pirate radio gave Record Mirror a healthy continental circulation and a Dutch supplement was frequently included. Terry Chappell resumed as production editor and Bob Houston supervised the change in layout format. Group editorial manager Mike Hennessey also contributed many outstanding articles including the first interview with the Beatles' John Lennon, in the "Who wrote what" column. The Record Mirror photographic studio became independent, remaining under the control of Dezo Hoffmann, who continued to supply photographs to the paper.
In a studio outtake of a recording of the song "Sally Simpson" on the 2003 release of the deluxe edition of the Who's 1969 album Tommy, Pete Townshend exclaims on the recording, "I read the Record Mirror". When Keith Moon presses him to tell what he read in the Record Mirror, Pete says that the paper said that he was known by the other members of the Who as "Bone".
In 1975 the music magazine Disc was incorporated into Record Mirror – among the items brought to Record Mirror was J Edward Oliver's irreverent music-based cartoon strip which had been running in Disc for five years, and which continued for a further two years in Record Mirror before being axed.
By 1977 Record Retailer had become Music Week and Record Mirror was included in a sale by Billboard magazine to the Morgan-Grampian Group. Both offices moved to Covent Garden. The Morgan-Grampian Group then moved to Greater London House, north London in 1981.
Later years, 1982–1991
In an effort to boost sales during 1982, the paper changed from tabloid format to a glossy magazine. During the next nine years the paper became an imitation of Smash Hits with a more pop-orientated slant and containing light-hearted features and comic articles, such as:
- Great Pop Things, a weekly comic strip by Colin B. Morton and Chuck Death which began in 1987 and continued in the NME after Record Mirror's closure
- Star-spotting gossip pages, written by Johnny Dee, which also featured a number of comedy articles
- Lip – gossip column written by Nancy Culp, and later Lisa Tilston
- "Spot The Imposter" – photoquiz with a misplaced face in the crowd
- "Phil's World Of Wigs" – each week a picture of Phil Collins appeared with new novelty haircuts, the artwork being created by art director Ian Middleton in response to readers' suggestions
- "Pete's Poems" – a weekly poem by record producer Pete Waterman (as edited by Neil Wilson)
- "Sonia's Best Buys" – value for money purchases apparently made by late 80's singer Sonia
- "The Stone Roses New Line-Up" – each week a new photo of a gurning celebrity would be added to a photo of the Stone Roses 1989 line-up, for example Harry Enfield as his character "Loadsamoney"
- "B's Cheeseboard" – various types of cheese apparently reviewed by Soul II Soul star Jazzie B
- "Star Scene" – pop stars answering questions about items in the news
- "Tanita and Guy's Psychic Joke Hut" – pictures of the heads of The House Of Love singer Guy Chadwick and singer-songwriter Tanita Tikaram telling each other jokes: both were famed for their serious natures in real life
In 1984, when British tabloid newspapers started running bingo competitions, Record Mirror became the first music paper to experiment with something similar.
The magazine's two outstanding features during its final incarnation were its unrivalled chart coverage and its early championing of the rave and acid house music scene. Record Mirror was the only magazine during the 1980s to print the weekly US singles and album charts, and chart statistician Alan Jones would provide analysis and notable facts for the UK and US charts each week.
- UK Top 100 Singles Chart
- UK Top 75 Albums and Compilation Albums Charts
- Vintage chart from a bygone year
- US Billboard Singles Chart
- US Billboard Albums Chart
- US Billboard Black Singles Chart
- Music Video Chart
- 12-inch singles Top 20 Chart
- Compact Disc Top 20 Chart
- Reggae Chart (dropped in 1987)
In June 1975 DJ James Hamilton (1942–1996) started writing a weekly "disco" column for Record Mirror, which during the 1980s expanded into a general dance music section known as BPM and later DJ Directory. Hamilton had started DJing in London in the early 1960s, and had been writing about US soul and R&B for Record Mirror since 1964, originally under the pseudonym "Dr Soul". After a visit to the Paradise Garage in the 1970s to see Larry Levan play, he came back to the UK an enthusiastic convert to the art of mixing records and convinced that this was the way forward for DJing in the UK, where mixing was virtually unknown at the time. To promote his views to the UK's DJ community, he developed his unique onomatopoeic style of describing the record, and from 1979 onwards he started timing and including the beats per minute of all the records he reviewed in his column. With Hamilton's established DJ credentials and his enthusiasm to promote the new styles of dance music that evolved during the 1980s, Record Mirror was well placed to become the first of the major music weeklies to pick up on the emerging acid house scene in the mid-80s, helped by the fact that at this point its rivals still tended to be more serious, guitar-orientated publications. The iconic pipe-smoking character "Mr Acid Head" was later picked up by a rave-based record label and used as sleeve art.
DJ Directory included:
- Beats and Pieces - news and gossip from the dance music world
- Hot Vinyl - track listings of new records
- Club Chart (previously known as the Disco Chart)
- "Cool Cuts" Chart
- Pop Dance Chart
- Hi-NRG Chart
In 1987 the magazine's owners the Morgan-Grampian Group were acquired by United Newspapers (now UBM).
Record Mirror was closed on the same day (2 April 1991) as its United Newspapers sister publication Sounds, with the last issue dated 6 April 1991, when the final cover featured the alternative rock band Transvision Vamp. Although it was the lowest-selling title of the four music weeklies at that point, averaging around 30,000 copies a week, unlike Sounds its closure was not influenced by falling advertising revenue, which at that point was still a healthy source of income for the magazine. Eleanor Levy, Record Mirror's final editor, believed that the decision to close the magazine was "taken by accountants rather than people who understand music. When I explained to one of the management team that our strength was dance music, he thought I meant Jive Bunny."
James Hamilton and the DJ Directory, now renamed BPM, moved to one of publisher United Newspapers' other titles, the trade magazine Jocks, which was in the process of undergoing a change from a trade newspaper to a dance magazine, and upon Record Mirror's closure was retitled DJ Mag. However, by now the proliferation of remixes of a single record and the greater use of drum machines on dance records (which meant that the BPMs of a record were more constant than in the early days of dance music) meant that Hamilton's style of reviews and record timings had become less relevant, and his column was phased out from DJ Mag after a couple of years.
Record Mirror continued as a four-page supplement in Music Week, driven by the chart section. In later years the supplement concentrated solely on dance music: the dance charts were later incorporated into Music Week. Hamilton continued to contribute reviews to the Record Mirror supplement, even after his diagnosis with cancer of the colon and right up to two weeks before his death on 17 June 1996.
- Norman Jopling
- Graeme Andrews
- Derek Boltwood
- Roy Burden
- Terry Chappell
- Rodney Collins
- Lon Goddard
- David Griffiths
- Tony Hall
- Peter Jones
- Bill McAllister
- Valerie Mabbs
- Ian Middleton
- Barry May
- Alan Stinton
- Photographic department
- Dezo Hoffmann
- David Louis [Louis Levy]
- Bill Williams
- Eileen Mallory
- Alan Messer
- Feri Lukas
- David Magnus
- Keith Hammett
- Production Editor
- Colin Brown
- Barry Cain
- Ronnie Gurr
- Mike Gardner
- Tim Lott
- Alf Martin
- Mike Nicholls
- Sheila Prophet
- Rosalind Russell
- John Shearlaw
- Daniela Soave
- Penny Valentine
- Chris Westwood
- Paula Yates – wrote a column in the paper titled "Natural Blonde"
- Photographic department
- Andy Phillips
- Paul Slattery
- Stuart Bailie – now a DJ on BBC Radio Ulster
- Tony Beard
- Edwin J Bernard – later became a writer and policy consultant for the human rights of HIV-affected people
- Graham Black
- Lysette Cohen
- Nancy Culp (real name Gill Smith, 1957–2009) – formerly a press officer for Rough Trade Records before moving into journalism: it was Morrissey (of Rough Trade artists The Smiths) who affectionately nicknamed her after The Beverley Hillbillies actress Nancy Kulp. Culp was also responsible for Record Mirror's gossip column Lip for much of the latter half of the 1980s before moving to the NME. She died from cancer on 6 April 2009.
- Johnny Dee
- Charlie Dick
- Ian Dickson
- Tony Farsides – later became editor of the Record Mirror supplement in Music Week
- Malu Halasa
- James Hamilton
- Tim Jeffries – became editor of Jocks and oversaw the transformation to DJ Mag
- Alan Jones
- Eleanor Levy – editor, 1989–1991. When Record Mirror closed down she and Andy Strickland (both keen football fans) co-founded the now-defunct football magazine 90 Minutes
- Roger Morton – became manager of the band Razorlight
- Lesley O'Toole
- Betty Page (real name Beverley Glick) – editor, 1986–1989. Started her career as the secretary to Sounds' editor in 1977 before graduating to interviewing musicians for the paper, moving to Record Mirror in the early 1980s. It was at this time that she became a well-known face on the London club scene and began calling herself "Betty Page" after the iconic 1950s model Bettie Page – she and her friend Nancy Culp were known as the "Rubber Goddesses" as they often dressed in fetish outfits, and both appeared as models on the front cover of the second issue of the fetish magazine Skin Two in 1984. At the end of the decade she moved on first to the NME, and then left the music business altogether to write for The Observer and The Sunday Express. Now runs her own business as a life coach for women.
- Pete Paisley
- Robin Smith
- Andy Strickland – combined journalism with his other job as guitarist for indie rock bands The Loft and later The Caretaker Race. Later edited the online music magazine Dotmusic.
- Lisa Tilston
- Chris Twomey
- David Whitelock - Later on managed indie/punk-funk band APB and others. Partner in Voice studios in 1989-92, Music Industry Consultant for government for 4 years, programmer at Lemon Tree in Aberdeen in 1999. Founded Vibraphonic (festival) in 2003 and radio station of same name in 2004, station now morphed into PhonicFM in 2007. Headed up Festivals and Event teams for both City Of Exeter and Bristol 2003-08. Now living in N Alberta, Canada delivering festivals and major events as ED of Events Wood Buffalo.
- Kevin Murphy
- Parker (aka Stephen Parker, now a DJ under the name Spoonful Sound System)
- Joe Shutter
- "Bogus Italian lawyer Giovanni di Stefano is jailed for 14 years". BBC News. 28 March 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
- William, Helen (28 March 2013). "Bogus 'lawyer' Giovanni di Stefano jailed for 14 years". The Independent (London, England: Independent Print Ltd). Retrieved 17 September 2013.
- Hepple, Peter (18 April 2005). "Obituaries: Simon Blumenfeld". The Stage (London, England: The Stage Media Company Ltd). Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- Smith, Alan. "50s & 60s UK Charts: A History". davemcaleer.com. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
- Warwick, Neil; Kutner, Jon; Brown, Tony (2004). The Complete Book Of The British Charts: Singles and Albums (3rd ed.). London, England: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-1-8444-9058-5.
- "James Hamilton dies". Record Mirror supplement in Music Week (London, England: United Newspapers). 29 June 1996. p. 1.
- "Life Beyond the Rave?". Select (June 1991) (London, England: EMAP). p. 4.
- Loben, Carl. "Living and breathing dance music". DJ Mag (June 2011) (London, England: Thrust Publishing Ltd). Retrieved 8 December 2012.
- Stuart Bailie's home page on BBC website
- Edwin J Bernard's autobiography on his personal website
- Bailie, Stuart (19 August 2009). "Licenced to Gill". BBC. Retrieved 8 December 2012.
- Glick, Beverley (6 May 2009). "She made me shine: tribute to Gill Smith". Thefetishistas.com. Retrieved 8 December 2012.
- Beverley Glick's autobiography on her website, "The Pearl Within"