Cover of a May 1981 edition of Smash Hits.
Smash Hits was a pop music magazine, aimed at teenagers and young adults and originally published in the United Kingdom by EMAP. It ran from 1978 to 2006 and was issued fortnightly for most of that time. The name survives as a brand for a spin-off digital television channel and website. A digital radio station was also available but shut on 5 August 2013.
After releasing a test issue in September 1978, with Plastic Bertrand on the front and a centre spread of Sham 69, the first issue was published in November 1978 and featured Blondie on the cover. The publication was initially monthly but switched to fortnightly after only four issues, which it remained until its demise. The backbone of the magazine in its early years, and one of its major early selling points, was the publication of Top 20 song lyrics.
The magazine was at its peak in the 1980s, launching the career of many journalists including Heat's editor Mark Frith. Other well-known writers have included Dave Rimmer, Ian Birch, Mark Ellen (who went on to launch Q, Mojo and Word), Steve Beebee, Peter Martin, Chris Heath, Sylvia Patterson, Sian Pattenden, Tom Hibbert, and Miranda Sawyer. Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys also worked as a writer and assistant editor, and once claimed that had he not become a pop star, he would likely have pursued his ambition to become editor.
Final years of publishing
In the 1990s the magazine's circulation slumped and it was overtaken by the BBC's spin off magazine Top of the Pops. Emap's other biweekly teen magazine of the period Big! (which featured more celebrities and stars of TV programmes like Home and Away and Beverly Hills, 90210) was closed and this celeb focus was shifted over to Smash Hits, which became less focused on Teenpop and more of an Entertainment magazine. The magazine also shifted size a number of times in subsequent relaunches including one format that was as big as an album with songwords to be clipped out on the card cover. Television presenter and journalist Kate Thornton was editor for a short time.
The magazine was also available in Continental Europe, especially in Germany where the issues could be bought at train stations or airports, whilst the title was licensed for a French version in the 90s. There were other licensed versions in the magazine's history. In 1984 an Australian version was created and proved just as successful for that new market as the original had back in Britain, whilst in the US, a version was published during the Eighties under the title Star Hits, drawing articles from the British version.
It was published by Emap, who also use the name for one of their digital television services, and for a digital radio station. The brand also covered the annual Smash Hits Poll Winners Party, an awards ceremony voted for by readers of the magazine.
In February 2006, it was announced that the magazine would cease publication after the 13 February edition due to declining sales. The digital television, digital radio, and website services will continue.
In July 2009 a one-off commemorative issue of the magazine was published as a tribute to singer Michael Jackson. Further one-off specials were released in November 2009 (Take That) and December 2010 (Lady Gaga).
- "Chris Hall" (pseudonym of Nick Logan who refused to use his name as editor, instead inventing the name from those of his children Christian and Hallie)
- Ian Cranna
- David Hepworth
- Mark Ellen
- Steve Bush
- Barry McIlheney
- Richard Lowe
- Mike Soutar
- Mark Frith
- Kate Thornton
- Gavin Reeve
- John McKie
- Emma Jones
- Lisa Smosarski
- Lara Palamoudian
The publication's Art Editor in the early 90s was Phil Hawksworth who guided the transition between traditional artwork to electronic artwork on the Mac, introducing many of the design /content features used until publication ceased in 2007.
The Australian edition of Smash Hits magazine began in November 1984 as a fortnightly edited by James Manning. The magazine blended some content from the parent publication with locally generated material. Eddy Sarafian, who was later to edit the successful competitor TV Hits for Attic Futura Publications, was also on staff at the time the magazine was founded. Robyn Doreian, later editor of Attic Futura's Hot Metal was graphic designer for Smash Hits and in the early 1990s Lisa Anthony, formerly editor of Attic Futura's Hit Songwords, would become Smash Hits' editor for a brief period. Australian Smash Hits was originally published by Fairfax Magazines and was later purchased by Mason Stewart Publications. Over the years it became a monthly and then a bi-monthly. In 2007 the magazine retailed for A$5.95 Inc. GST and NZ$6.50. On 30 March 2007 it was announced that the Australian edition would cease publication due to low readership. The editor at that time was Emma Bradshaw. The issue that was scheduled to be released on 9 May 2007 was cancelled.