The New Musical Express (better known as the NME) is a weekly magazine about popular music published in the UK. It is unlike many other popular music magazines due to its intended focus on guitar-based music and indie rock bands, instead of mainstream pop acts. It is generally considered to be the starting point for most successful British guitar bands.
The paper began in 1952 after the Musical Express was bought by London music promoter Maurice Kinn and relaunched as the NME. It was initially published in a non-glossy, tabloid format. Later the same year, taking its cue from the US Billboard Magazine, it created the UK Singles Chart. The first of which was, unfathomably, a top twelve.
It grew up alongside rock music and was for many years the rival to the far older Melody Maker. Upon the demise of Melody Maker in 2001, several of its writers and features moved to the NME.
During the mid 1970s the NME famously advertised for "hip young gunslingers" to join their editorial staff. This resulted in the recruitment of Tony Parsons and Julie Burchill, who went on to champion a new musical trend that became known as punk rock, giving coverage to rising bands such as the Sex Pistols and The Clash, and clubs such as The Roxy in London's Neal Street.
Despite the championing of influential band The Smiths, at a time when both mainstream media and the charts were immune to their charms during the mid 1980s, NME hit a rough patch and was in danger of closing. Alan Lewis was appointed editor and duly turned round the paper's fortunes. In the nature of important new popular music, NME thrives in an atmosphere where ex-readers resent the new music it is covering, accusing the paper of 'selling out'. The paper was in high health in time for just such a movement: madchester. This proved to be a hugely successful 'golden age' for the paper. Once again in the mid 1990s the paper soared to heights with the championing of Britpop. It suffered during the late 1990s and early 2000s as British music became dull and uninventive. Recent years have seen a return to form of the paper driven by bands including Muse, The Libertines, Franz Ferdinand and Scissor Sisters, indeed major media observers claim that it is currently in the first full rush of a new golden age although older readers accuse it of pandering to major record labels and being to quick to tout the 'next big thing'although NME believes that it is its job to break new acts like this.
Paul Morley, founder of ZTT Records (the record label of Frankie Goes to Hollywood), and more recently something of a media pundit, also began his journalistic career writing for the NME during the early 1980s. Other notable individuals that wrote for the paper during this period included 'X Moore' (a socialist writer and also member of the band The Redskins), Steven Wells (who was formerly a ranting poet under the name Seething Wells), Adrian Thrills and Ian Penman.
Other former NME journalists include song and Sci-Fi writer Mick Farren (of the Deviants (band)), plus DJs Steve Lamacq, Danny Baker and Andrew Collins (also a film critic), sports television and radio presenter Danny Kelly and writer David Quantick.
- Official website (http://www.nme.com/)