Neil Spencer is a British journalist, author, broadcaster and astrologerwho lives in north London. He edited the New Musical Express (NME) from 1978 to 1985 and was a founding editor of the men's magazine Arena and of the jazz/art magazine Straight No Chaser . He writes regularly for The Observer , specialising in astrology, music and other aspects of popular culture. According to his website, his work has also appeared in The Independent , Mojo , Uncut and Elle , among other publications.
Spencer was assistant editor of the NME until November 1978, when he took over as editor from Nick Logan. By the early 1980s, it was the most influential music paper in the country.Writing in The Observer in 2005, Spencer selected his tenure as editor as the magazine's "so-called Golden Age", for its positioning of music within "a wider oppositional culture in which politics, books, movies, illustration and photography all had a major role". He cited the magazine's opposition to Thatcherism and the rise of the National Front in the UK, and the US policies under Ronald Reagan.
His final years at the NME coincided with a period when, as with other established UK music publications such as Melody Maker , Record Mirror and Sounds , the magazine's popularity suffered with the emergence of the more pop-focused Smash Hits . In 1983, he told Rolling Stone : "The fans of that music are, for the most part, very young ... We are a bit of a grown-up publication. And I have no interest in editing a fab-pix issue. Besides, Smash Hits, quite honestly, has got that market."After leaving the NME, he was the founding editor of Arena , which launched in 1986.
In November 1985, Spencer helped found Red Wedge with British musicians Paul Weller and Billy Bragg. The collective aimed to engage young people with politics, and the policies of the Labour Party in particular, in the lead-up to the 1987 general election. According to Bragg, Spencer's involvement was "absolutely crucial" since, further to his support of politically minded artists while at the NME, "He was a child of '68 and still believed that music should say something, and that as a musician you should be able to express an alternative lifestyle to the mainstream."In early 1986, Spencer was the press officer for the Red Wedge UK tour, which featured a large cast of musicians, including Bragg, Weller's band the Style Council, the Communards and Tom Robinson.
In 2000, his book True As the Stars Above: Adventures in Modern Astrology was published in the UK by Gollancz. He has also contributed to the books Fatherhood (Gollancz; ed. Peter Howarth), Chic Thrills, A Fashion Reader (Pandora; ed. Juliet Ash), David Bailey's Rock & Roll Heroes, and City Secrets London.
Among his film projects, Spencer co-wrote the screenplay for Bollywood Queen (2003), directed by Jeremy Wooding.
Stephen William Bragg is an English singer-songwriter and left-wing activist. His music blends elements of folk music, punk rock and protest songs, with lyrics that mostly span political or romantic themes. His music is heavily centred on bringing about change and involving the younger generation in activist causes.
New Musical Express (NME) is a British music, film and culture website and brand which has existed since 1952. Originally a newspaper, with the publication being referred to as a 'rock inkie', the NME would become a magazine that ended up as a free publication, before becoming an online brand which includes its website and radio stations.
Red Wedge was a collective of musicians formed in the UK in 1985, who attempted to engage young people with politics in general, and the policies of the Labour Party in particular, during the period leading up to the 1987 general election, in the hope of ousting the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher.
Happy Mondays are an English rock band formed in Salford in 1980. The band's original line-up was Shaun Ryder (vocals), his brother Paul Ryder (bass), Mark Day (guitar), Paul Davis (keyboard), and Gary Whelan (drums). Mark "Bez" Berry later joined the band onstage as a dancer/percussionist. Rowetta joined the band as a vocalist in 1990.
Neil Francis Tennant is an English musician, singer, songwriter, music journalist and co-founder of the synthpop duo Pet Shop Boys, which he formed with Chris Lowe in 1981. He was also a journalist for Smash Hits, and was assistant editor for the magazine for a period in the mid-1980s.
Phillip Christopher Jupitus is an English stand-up and improv comedian, actor, performance poet, cartoonist and podcaster. Jupitus was a team captain on BBC Two's popular music quiz Never Mind the Buzzcocks from its inception in 1996 until its end in 2015, and also appears regularly as a guest on several other panel shows, including QI and BBC Radio 4's I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue.
Melody Maker was a British weekly music magazine, one of the world's earliest music weeklies, and—according to its publisher IPC Media—the earliest. It was founded in 1926, largely as a magazine for dance band musicians, by Leicester-born composer, publisher Lawrence Wright; the first editor was Edgar Jackson. In January 2001 it was merged into "long-standing rival" New Musical Express.
Andrew Collins is an English writer and broadcaster. He is the creator and writer of the Radio 4 sitcom Mr Blue Sky. His TV writing work includes EastEnders and the sitcoms Grass and Not Going Out. Collins has also worked as a music, television and film critic.
The Wire is a British music magazine publishing out of London, which has been issued monthly in print since 1982. Its website launched in 1997, and an online archive of its entire back catalog became available to subscribers in 2013. Since 1985, the magazine's annual year-in-review issue, Rewind, has named an album or release of the year based on critics' ballots.
Smash Hits was a British music magazine aimed at young adults, originally published by EMAP. It ran from 1978 to 2006, and after initially appearing monthly, was issued fortnightly during most of that time. The name survived as a brand for a spin-off digital television channel, now named Box Hits, and website. A digital radio station was also available but closed on 5 August 2013.
Popjustice is a music website founded in 2000 by UK freelance music journalist Peter Robinson, who has worked for NME, The Guardian, Attitude and many others. It is composed of the work of editor Robinson, features editor Michael Cragg, and a host of contributors.
Uncut magazine, trademarked as UNCUT, is a monthly publication based in London. It is available across the English-speaking world, and focuses on music, but also includes film and books sections. A DVD magazine under the Uncut brand was published quarterly from 2005 to 2006. The magazine was acquired in 2019 by Singaporean music company BandLab Technologies
Record Mirror was a British weekly music newspaper between 1954 and 1991 for pop fans and record collectors. Launched two years after the NME, it never attained the circulation of its rival. The first 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 US Billboard charts.
Richard David Cook was a British jazz writer, magazine editor and former record company executive. Sometimes credited as R. D. Cook, Cook was born in Kew, Surrey, and lived in west London as an adult. A writer on music from the late 1970s until he died, Cook was co-author, with Brian Morton, of The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings, which lasted for ten editions until 2010. Richard Cook's Jazz Companion and It's About That Time: Miles Davis On and Off the Record were published in 2005.
Nick Logan is an English journalist, editor and publisher.
Dylan John Jones OBE is an English journalist and author who has served as editor of the UK version of men's fashion and lifestyle magazine GQ since 1999. He has held senior roles with several other publications, including editor of magazines i-D and Arena, and has contributed weekly columns to newspapers The Independent and The Mail on Sunday. Jones has penned multiple books.
Mark Ellen is a British magazine editor, journalist and broadcaster who lives in West London.
The Face is a British music, fashion and culture monthly magazine originally published from 1980 to 2004, and relaunched in 2019.
Kevin Sampson is a British novelist, best known for his novels Awaydays (1998), Powder (1999) and Stars Are Stars (2006). He lives in Birkenhead, Merseyside. His crime thriller, The Killing Pool, was published by Cape on 21 March 2013.
Chris Salewicz is a journalist, broadcaster and novelist who lives in London. He was as a senior features writer for the New Musical Express from 1975 to 1981 where under tutelage of editor Neil Spencer he and other journalists were said to have re-written the book on music journalism. The period Chris spent at NME is regarded by some as a 'Golden Age of Music Journalism', where, fuelled by the punk rock explosion the whole genre changed into a complex revolutionary socio economic critique rather than the fan club style journalism of the previous decades. Along with other NME alumni of that period, Chris's work soon found its way into serious mainstream publications the Sunday Times, the Independent, The Daily Telegraph, Conde Nast Traveller, Q, Mojo and Time Out, he also wrote for The Face magazine.