Sixties City presents a wide-ranging series of articles on all aspects of the Sixties, penned by the creator of the iconic 60s music paper  Mersey Beat

Jackie Magazine - Sixties City

1964 was a different world for the British teenage girl. No smart phones, internet social media, television featuring programmes aimed at them – and the lack of information on creatures called boys! Since the Victorian times there had been magazines for young girls, but the years around the Sixties were regular publications, most simply entitled with the name of a girl. They included Judy, Diana, June, Penelope, Mandy, Tina, Sally, Debbie, Misty, Emma, Penny, Tracy, Suzi, Nikki, Bunty and Tammy. However, reaching above all others was Jackie, first published on 11th January 1964, just ten days after the first screening of television's 'Top Of The Pops'. The new magazine appeared and rapidly proved to be a weekly highlight in the lives of British 12 to 16 year-old girls. Cliff Richard was featured on the cover of issue No.1 and the publication was created and published by D. C. Thompson of Dundee, along with Diana, Bunty, Blue Jeans and The Beano, although the magazine sported a London address. The first editor was a former RAF aero-engine fitter, Gordon Small, who was aided by a former RAF cook in charge of layouts and an ex-rifleman from the Royal Scots Guards in charge of fiction, although its most prominent and first female editor proved to be Nina Myscow who worked on Jackie for 12 years from 1966 to 1978, becoming editor in 1974. One of her ideas was to include three-part posters of pop stars, with occasional ones not turning out as planned. She recalled, “In those days, printing wasn’t an exact science, and we’d often end up with a face the colour of boiled lobster and hands would be dusky tanned, or we’d get sad packages back through the post asking why Donny had ended up with 10 fingers on each hand. But readers loved those posters.”

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The magazine included love stories, pop star pictures, horoscopes, quizzes, beauty and fashion tips. There were also centre page posters of stars such as David Cassidy and features such as ‘Beauty Calendar’, ‘Star Scope', ‘Down on the Farm', the humorous ‘Silly Star File' interview and other more serious interviews with pop music figures. Jackie front covers also had free gifts attached ranging from combs, bangles, keyrings, and occasional makeup. One popular gift was a red ‘love heart’ brooch that girls wore open if they were single and closed if they had a boyfriend. The photo love stories featured young models such as Shirley Manson, who was to become the lead singer in Garbage. Fiona Bruce also began posing for the photo love stories when she was 15. Her mum kept telling her to get a Saturday job and she noticed an advert in the window of her local newsagent for a photographer looking for models. Actress Leslie Ash together with her sister Debbie (later a member of Hot Gossip dance troupe) often posed for Jackie covers, in addition to the photo stories. Actress Sadie Frost also appeared in a Jackie photo shoot. Others included actor Hugh Grant and George Michael, later to become an international rock star. Of note was the ‘Cathy and Claire Page’. This was the ‘agony aunt’ section of the weekly, although Cathy and Claire didn’t exist. This was a popular feature with young girls asking for advice on problems relevant to them in an era when there wasn’t as much information available for teenagers as there is now. On average there were 400 letters a week which went to the 185 Fleet Street address and were then sent to Dundee.

The main ‘agony aunt’ for a time was Sandy Monks who was to recall: “Most of the letters were about boys — how to get one, how to get rid of one — so we had leaflets printed which we sent out to readers explaining all about the workings of these mysterious creatures. We had leaflets for a variety of other problems and the leaflets which were most popular were the ones on Boys and the ones on Busts. Readers were obsessed with their busts, or lack of them. At that time, judging by the letters to the problem page, there seemed to be a degree of ignorance about sexual relationships, so we produced a leaflet called 'Sex'. The need for this was apparent from the problems we got. One girl wrote to us and said: ‘I know I am pregnant because my boyfriend touched me on the shoulder after he had been to the toilet’ and another wrote 'I brushed past a boy on the bus. We had our clothes on. Could I be pregnant?'."

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In the 1970s Rhonda Wilson was the magazine's music editor, stylist, photographer and agony aunt. Problems great and small were dealt with from dealing with spots, getting round curfews and finding the right career to chatting up boys and describing how to make a first kiss without bashing noses. In 1974, the ‘Dear Doctor’ column was introduced and was often referred to as covering ‘below the waist issues’ with its answers to questions regarding health matters, including periods and bosoms. In 1976 'Jackie' absorbed 'Diana' (considered to be DC Thomson's answer to IPC's 'Girl'). Jackie was the best-selling teen magazine in Britain for ten years, with sales rising from an initial run of 350,000 to 605,947 in 1976.

The best-selling single issue was the 1972 special edition that coincided with David cassidy's UK tour.
However by 1993, after 30 years of publishing, sales had shrunk to 50,000 a week and was eventually cancelled, after 1,538 issues, with a 40-page special issue in 1993, costing 50p. In 2014 there was even a musical ‘Jackie: The Musical’, which opened at the Gardyne Theatre in Dundee. It related how a middle-aged divorcee used the Jackie problem page to sort out romantic problems. In September 2008 there was a BBC documentary ‘Jackie Magazine – A Girl’s Best Friend’. Apart from several Jackie Annuals, books about the magazine include ‘The Best of Jackie Magazine’ by Nina Myscow, ‘Jackie’s Dear Cathy and Claire’ by Lorna Russell and ’50 Years of Jackie’ by Jacqueline Wilson.
Elvis, Cliff and All - Sixties City
Sixties City: To test the teenage market and provide an editorial template for their 'Jackie' magazine, D.C.Thompson produced a one-off pop title in 1963 on the new Goss rotary photogravure press at Kingsway that allowed glossy colour pages and high-speed print runs.

Only available at selected newsagents, the 64-page magazine was called 'Elvis, Cliff and All'. It was assembled by a small team already working on 'Jackie' and included 'pops, pin-ups, stories and features' about Elvis Presley, Adam Faith, Cliff Richard and Billy Fury. There was a double page featuring the loves of Elvis Presley and the glossy posters included Richard Chamberlain, Clint Eastwood, Tab Hunter, Warren Beatty and John Leyton.

Also see: Sixties City - Children's Comics page

Mersey Beat Magazine Bill Harry attended the Liverpool College of Art with Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon and made the arrangements for Brian Epstein to visit The Cavern, where he saw The Beatles for the first time. Bill was a member of 'The Dissenters' and the founder and editor of 'Mersey Beat', the iconic weekly music newspaper that documented the early Sixties music scene in the Liverpool area and is possibly best known for being the first periodical to feature a local band called 'The Beatles'. He has worked as a high powered publicist, doing PR for acts such as Suzi Quatro, Free, The Arrows and Hot Chocolate and has managed press campaigns for record labels such as CBS, EMI, Polydor. Bill is the critically acclaimed author of a large number of books about The Beatles and the 60s era including 'The Beatles Who's Who', 'The Best Years of the Beatles' and the Fab Four's 'Encyclopedia' series. He has appeared on 'Good Morning America' and has received a Gold Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.

Article Text Bill Harry       Original Graphics SixtiesCity      Other individual owner copyrights may apply to Photographic Images

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