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New Musical Express, Legendary UK Rock Music Tab, To Go Free

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When I was in my early 20s I was a huge fan of rock critics. Other people loved rock music, punk, and I did as well, but rock critics were my heroes. I was living in Manchester, England, and I went to a lot of gigs, out five nights a week or something, made the rounds, and I followed the rock tabs:  Sounds, New Musical Express and Melody Maker and the writers were my heroes. Julie Burchill, Adrian Thrills, Danny Baker  (who singlehandedly turned me back on to r&b), Lester Bangs (the only Atlantic cross over star), Nick Kent, Charles Shaar Murray, all under the leadership of Nick Logan and his second in command Neil Spencer. I actually interview Nick when the face came out, which he owned, and for me, there was no difference between Nick (and Julie, who I also interviewed) than John Entwistle. Hell, even the letters pages were excellent.

My love affair with NME continued through the early 80s, and bad boys Ian Penman and Paul Morley, Barney Hoskins and Pablo Hewitt, and then ended once Neil left and they were told to be less political…

Thirty odd years later and I use NME for news but have no real interest otherwise, I wouldn’t recognize the name of a single one of their writers names, and nothing I’ve read has thrilled me too much. However, news that this September the 63 year old publication is free of charge is not entirely unlike the news that the Sex Pistols were featured on a credit card, it was like another end of something, another finale to a golden age of rock and roll, and to my youth. I loved the NME of 1977, I think I’ve never loved a rock mag more and it seems whatever it might be, this is the end of the beginning of the end of rock writing.

In its glory days, in the late 70s, my  NME sold 300,000 copies a week, now it is down to 15,000.

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