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Sixties Music and Pop Publications
Sixties Music and Pop Publications

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Music and Video Week 1983 There were quite a number of national popular music publications available during the 1960's, not all of which produced weekly music charts and of which even fewer were perceived as carrying 'major' music chart reviews. The NME charts were generally acknowledged as being the most accurate reflection of record sales, while Melody Maker was the magazine of choice for most musicians if for no other reason than it contained many advertisements for job opportunities within the music industry. Melody Maker was also the place to find out what group was playing at what venue in any given week. Disc and Record Mirror were also widely read 'public' music papers and there was also the 'trade' paper Record Retailer and the monthly EMI trade publication Record Mail. Many of these appeared under different names at different times as ownership changed or mergers took place.

The American 'music trade' magazine 'Billboard' published its first 'record sales' chart on 20th July 1940. It originally had separate charts for different measurements of popularity that included disc jockey airplays, juke box selection and record sales in retail stores. It also published a composite chart compiled by combining all these statistics to provide a Top 100, the forerunner of its current Hot 100 chart.
The separate juke box play chart ceased after June 17th 1957 and the separate disc jockey airplay chart after July 28th 1958. The 'Hot 100' title for the composite chart was used after the July 28th 1958 issue and the separate retail sales chart was not published after Monday October 13th 1958. The two other main US music papers were Record World and Cash Box.

Specifically female teenage readership was already being targeted by the early 1960s with publications such as Romeo, Marilyn, Roxy, Mirabelle, Boyfriend and Valentine, with Marty (named after pop singer Marty Wilde) joining them in 1960. Boyfriend was very much oriented towards pop music and 'Beatlemania', producing several 'special' supplements such as 1963's 'Big New Beat' featuring a variety of 'close-up and personal' images of The Beatles taken by photographer Fiona Adams, one of which was used for the 'Twist and Shout' EP cover in July 1963. The second edition of 'Big Beat' issued in autumn 1963 featured other artists such as Cliff Richard, Elvis Presley and 'up and coming' acts such as The Rolling Stones, The Searchers and Freddie and The Dreamers. Two new publications entered the market in 1964, both launched during January: DC Thompson's 'Jackie' (as an alternative to Boyfriend) and Fleetway's 'Fabulous' which focussed more on 'Merseybeat' and The Beatles. By the late Sixties 'Jackie' had a circulation of about 500,000.

George Newnes launched another 'pop' magazine in early 1964 called 'Rave'. At a cost of 2s 6d (12.5p) it was considerably more expensive than its competitors but provided 80 good quality pages with images from photographers such as Jean Marie Perier, Terry O'Neill and Marc Sharratt depicting all the latest fashion trends. Female writers, including Cathy McGowan, Dawn James and Maureen O'Grady, enjoyed a high profile together with in-depth articles about music artists that encompassed both 'teen' pop and mainline artists like The Yardbirds and The Who. The industry became quite competitive with other publications coming up with new ideas to capture, or maintain, their share of the market.

'Disc' featured current news articles on its front page and an improved music chart presentation with new releases reviewed by Penny Valentine. 'Melody Maker' started to produce eye-catching headlines, newspaper-style and 'Record Mirror' also improved its chart presentation, together with colour printing and a back page 'gossip column' which it titled 'The Face'. It was hard for the market to sustain the growing number of competitive titles and 1966 started to see some significant changes with 'Marilyn' merging with 'Valentine', 'Boyfriend' merging with 'Petticoat' and 'Fabulous' being re-titled Fabulous 208. 'Music Echo' (which had already incorporated Bill Harry's 'Mersey Beat') merged with 'Disc' and introduced colour print on both its front and rear covers. Albert Hand's 'Pop Weekly' went out of production. This period saw the rise of 'underground' magazines, some of which such as 'Cue' and 'Intro' were comparatively short-lived but the higher quality publications 'Oz' and 'Rolling Stone', which tended to concentrate more on albums and non-chart music, successfully aimed themselves at a new market that was previously almost untapped. A number of the British 'pirate' radio stations also produced their own magazines.
Some of the better-known British publications were:

New Musical Express   Musical Express   NME Poll Winners Concert   NME 1966 Annual
Accordion Times
Musical Express
New Musical Express

Accordion Times* - 4th October 1946 to 30th January 1948
Continued as Musical Express - 6th February 1948 to 22nd February 1952
7th March 1952 - Bought out and re-launched as New Musical Express
1st January 1960 to 26th February 1960 - Fridays - Top 30 listing

In terms of circulation during its peak years,1964 to 1966, NME was selling around 300,000 copies a week, more than all the other music papers combined
*'Accordion Times and Modern Musician' apparently resurfaced as a different publication

Disc    Disc     Disc Weekly     Music Echo     Disc and Music Echo
Disc Weekly
Disc and Music Echo

Disc - 1st February 1958 to 28th November 1964

In 1959 it was Disc's editor Gerald Marks who introduced the practice of presenting a silver disc for sales of 250,000 units and a gold disc to records that sold over one million units
Continued as Disc Weekly - 5th December 1964 to 16th April 1966 when it was incorporated with Music Echo
Continued as Disc and Music Echo - 23rd April 1966 to 30th August 1975 when it was incorporated with the Record Mirror

Melody Maker Melody Maker
Founded and first issued in January 1926 by Lawrence Wright, it was originally a monthly publication aimed at jazz fans and musicians, becoming a weekly within a year and 'the world's oldest music weekly'. In 1999 it was relaunched as a glossy magazine, continuing until 20th December 2000 when it was incorporated into its sister paper, and long-time rival, the New Musical Express
Pop Ten Monthly   Pop Weekly   Pop Weekly
Pop 10 Monthly
Pop Weekly
Pop Shop and Teen Beat

February 1962 - First issue of Pop Ten Monthly
1st September 1962 - Re-launched as Pop Weekly
Continued to12th February 1966 when it was incorporated with the now-defunct Pop Shop and Teen Beat monthly
Record Mirror
The Record Mirror
The Record and Show Mirror
The New Record Mirror

17th June 1954 to 15th August 1959
29th August 1959 - Continued as The Record and Show Mirror
18th March 1961 - Continued as The New Record Mirror 16th November 1963 - Continued as Record Mirror - to 6th April 1991 when it was discontinued

Sounds Sounds
A long-term UK weekly pop/rock music newspaper, published from 10th October 1970 6th April 1991. It was produced by Spotlight Publications (part of Morgan Grampian), which was set up by Jack Hutton and Peter Wilkinson, who left Melody Maker to start their own company
Hit Parade
Hit Parade
HP was a monthly magazine dating from the Fifties and therefore did not publish a weekly best selling record chart.
It specialised in publishing in-depth interviews and features about the leading acts of the day
Jazz News
Jazz News
Jazz News and Review

November 1956 to 24th October 1963
7th November 1963 - Continued as Jazz News and Review until December 1963 when it was discontinued
Record Mail
Record Mail
A monthly EMI 'house' publicity paper featuring their own recording artists and releases, aimed at trade outlets and first published in January 1958

Record Retailer Record Retailer
Record Retailer and Music Industry News
Record and Tape Retailer
Music Week
Music and Video Week

25th August 1959 - Record Retailer is founded by the Gramophone Record Retailers Association as a monthly trade newspaper for labels and dealers. Roy Parker was managing director and editor.
10th March 1960 - Renamed 'Record Retailer and Music Industry News'
10th March 1960 to 29th June 1967 - published Thursdays - Top 50 listing
5th July 1967 to 30th July 1969 - published Wednesdays - Top 50 listing
5th October 1967 - Reverts to its original title 'Record Retailer'
9th August 1969 to 26th December 1970 - published Saturdays - Top 50 listing
9th January 1971 - Renamed 'Record and Tape Retailer'
18th March 1972 - Re-launched as 'Music Week'
17th January 1981 - Renamed 'Music and Video Week'
3rd September 1983 - Name changes back to Music Week
Since April 1991 - Music Week has incorporated the Record Mirror
Mersey Beat (The Mersey Beat Story by Bill Harry)
Music Echo and Mersey Beat

Mersey Beat, an important and iconic music newspaper of the Sixties, was founded by Bill Harry as an approximately bi-weekly regional publication on Merseyside, its first edition appearing on Thursday 6th July 1961 and selling out all 5,000 copies printed. In 1963 it began compiling a Top 20 chart based on around 10 local stores and became weekly on Thursday 23rd April 1964.
Following an investment in September 1964 by Brian Epstein, it expanded its chart and sample size to become the first publication to announce a Top 100 on Thursday 3rd December 1964. Its popularity was such that it eventually became a national publication and on Saturday 6th March 1965 the paper was rebranded Music Echo and Mersey Beat by Bill Harry, later becoming simply the Music Echo, and was eventually incorporated into Disc becoming the Disc and Music Echo on 23rd April 1966

   Music Now Top Pops
Top Pops and Music Now
Music Now

This publication was founded by Woodrow Wyatt in May 1967, initially as a three-weekly newspaper with colour content. Its first editor was Marcus Davidson, previously editor of the Birmingham Planet, one of a series of web-offset colour newspapers that had recently expired. Peter Wilson-Ferrill advises "The first office of Top Pops was above the offices of the weekly Banbury Guardian, also then owned by Wyatt. Davidson took me with him to Banbury as his assistant. I had been hired just four weeks previously as a Sub/reporter on the Birmingham Planet. Neither Davidson nor I knew anything about pop music!". When Davidson left to work at BBC2 after 3 or 4 issues, Peter acted as editor for the next few issues until Colin Bostock-Smith was recruited from the Evening Standard. Peter also left soon afterwards for a career in daily journalism. Top Pops began compiling a chart based on a telephone sample of 12 W.H. Smith & Son stores in May 1968. The paper and its music charts, with a circulation of about 78,000, became fortnightly in November 1967 and weekly in June 1968. It was re-branded 'Top Pops and Music Now' on Saturday 20th September 1969, becoming simply 'Music Now' on 21st March 1970 until its demise in May 1971

Fabulous      Fabulous      Fabulous 208      Fab 208      Fab Hits Fabulous
Fabulous 208
Fab 208
Fab Hits

Fabulous pop paper / magazine was launched by Fleetway on 18th January 1964 and was one of the top selling music magazines of the 60s and 70s, running for nearly 900 issues. Its name was changed to Fabulous 208 on 4th June 1966 when it became the 'official' paper of Radio Luxembourg after a deal to publish Luxembourg's programme listings and other items before it became just 'Fab 208' in the 1970s. Its large 13 x 10 pages consisted of full colour shots of pop artists and groups, taken by top photographers, including David Steen and Robert Whitaker, which could be used as wall posters. Predominantly concentrating on 'Merseymania' at the outset, it contained at least one pin-up of The Beatles in every issue for two years and some issues, such as 15th February 1964, were almost totally devoted to the group. Fabulous also had 'guest' editors such as Dave Dee & Co (Dave Dee provided an 'advice' column!) and The Kinks.
After a brief final few publications renamed 'Fab Hits', its last issue was published on 27th September 1980

Beat Instrumental

Music Parade and Top Teen
Pop Shop and Teen Beat
Teen Beat
Top Pops

Music Week
Zig Zag
Combo Musical Weekly
Pop Pics Super

Big Beat
Mod's Monthly
Pop Ten Teenbeat Annual
Pop weekly
Record Songbook


Record World


scottish Beat

Beat Monthly


Pop Magazine and Music Paper Chart Listing Timeline


Tuesday 25th August 1959 - Record Retailer is founded by the Gramophone Record Retailers Association as a monthly trade newspaper for labels and dealers. Roy Parker was managing editor
Saturday 21st November - Melody Maker publishes the first ever EP chart


Thursday 17th March - Record Retailer increases its EP listing to Top 15
Thursday 24th March - Record Retailer increases its EP listing to Top 20 and lists an LP album chart Top 20
Saturday 2nd April - The NME Singles and Album Chart are increased to 50 positions long
Thursday 6th July - Bill Harry's 'Mesey Beat' music paper is first published
Saturday 30th July - Melody Maker increases its sampling pool from 60 to 110 (NME are using 80 and Disc about 50) and starts receiving its data by postal returns. It also stops printing information about
which stores it is using


Saturday 24th March - The Record Mirror stops compiling its own charts, partly due to prohibitive postal costs in obtaining returns, and publishes Record Retailer's Top 50 chart instead
April -
NME celebrates its 10th anniversary. Its sales exceed 200,000 copies weekly which is more than all the other sales of weekly 'pop' newspapers combined
Saturday 14th April - Melody Maker increases its chart from Top 20 to Top 30
Friday 1st June - NME starts publishing a separate LP chart but continues to include LP sales in its singles chart statistics, a practice that it continues until the late Sixties
Saturday 1st September - 'Pop Weekly', formerly 'Top 10 Monthly', is published weekly with a Top 30 chart compiled using a mixture of NME, Melody Maker, Disc and Record Retailer charts, plus returns from
about 30 outlets and advance sales figures from record companies
Saturday 15th September - Melody Maker increases its chart from Top 30 to Top 50
Saturday 6th October - Disc increases its chart from a Top 20 to Top 30


Mersey Beat begins compiling a bi-weekly Top 20 chart based on returns from around 10 local stores
Saturday 25th May - Melody Maker publishes its last EP chart


Record Retailer increases its sample pool from 30 to 85 by using EMI and Decca's distribution lists.
Melody Maker and NME are using around 150 and Disc is polling 100 outlets Radio Caroline begins broadcasting, using the Melody Maker Top 50 chart on a Saturday lunchtime show presented by Tom Lodge
Friday 24th April - Mersey Beat becomes a weekly, with a weekly chart
Thursday 3rd December - Mersey Beat is the first UK publication to publish a Top 100 singles chart list


The NME chart is suspected of 'hyping' charts when a member of their staff is found to be involved in manipulations resulting in Bob Dylan recordings enter their chart at much higher ratings than others
May - Music Echo and Mersey Beat publish the first Top 50 LP chart
Saturday 6th November - Pop Weekly reduces its chart to a Top 10
Saturday 27th November - Pop Weekly publishes its last 'sales' chart, continuing to feature a 'readers popularity' Top 20 until its last issue on 12th February 1966


Saturday 23rd April - The publication Mersey Beat (which also ran its own chart) is incorporated into Disc which becomes the Disc and Music Echo, increasing its singles chart to include the Top 50 although
Mersey Beat had previously published a Top 100.
The renamed paper also starts publishing a Top 10 album chart, removing LP sales figures from its singles chart
Friday 2nd December - Record Retailer increases its album chart to a Top 40


Saturday 1st April - Although a Top 50 is compiled, Melody Maker and 'Disc' (both owned by Spotlight publications) only publish their Top 30 in a bid to prevent the increasing practice of 'chart-rigging' at
known sales outlets.
This makes it more difficult to see which of the lower entries should be concentrated on and meant a far bigger outlay by 'fixers' to push particular records into the visible Top 30

Thursday 25th May - Top Pops publishes its first chart, a Top 30 based on sales returns from about 12 W.H. Smith outlets
Thursday 22nd June - Top Pops becomes a weekly publication with weekly charts
July - Record Retailer changes its publication date from Thursdays to Wednesdays causing some confusion with its chart statistic returns from outlets

Saturday 26th August - The Disc and Music Echo ceases using its own charts and uses a chart combined with that of Melody Maker, using a sample pool of 280 outlets.
Thursday 21st September - Record Retailer reduces its EP listing to the Top 9 only
Thursday 30th November - Record Retailer publishes the last UK EP chart


Saturday 15th February - The BMRB start providing the 'official' UK Top 50 singles chart to the BBC. Record Mirror publishes the Top 30 and Record Retailer carries the entire Top 50
Saturday 15th February - The Record Retailer lists the Top 15 LP albums only
Saturday 8th March - The Record Retailer lists separate ,budget' and 'full price' album charts for one week only
Saturday 14th June - The Record Retailer lists the Top 20 LP albums
Saturday 28th June to 2nd October - The Record Retailer lists the Top 40 LP albums
Saturday 20th September - The Melody Maker Top 50 is published in the trade paper 'Music Business Weekly' (until 27th March 1971)
Thursday 9th October - The Record Retailer only lists the Top 32 LP albums, after which its LP chart numbers fluctuate between Top 20 and Top 25 to the end of 1969
Melody Maker and NME both reduce their sample pool to 100 outlets and compile their charts on a Thursday/Friday in advance of the BMRB chart issued on Saturdays

Western Scene

The Bristol Beat


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