Record Mirror

Record Mirror
Categories Music, show business
Frequency Weekly
Founder Isidore Green
First issue 17 June 1954
Final issue 6 April 1991
Company United Newspapers
Country United Kingdom
Based in London
Language English
ISSN 0144-5804
OCLC number 6459252

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.

The title ceased in April 1991 when United Newspapers closed or sold most of their consumer magazines, including Record Mirror and Sounds, to concentrate on newspapers. In 2010 Giovanni di Stefano bought the name Record Mirror and relaunched it as an online music gossip website in 2011. The website became inactive in 2013 following di Stefano's jailing for fraud.[1][2]

Early years, 1954–1963

Record Mirror was founded by former Weekly Sporting Review editor Isidore Green,[3] who encouraged the same combative journalism as NME. Staff writers included Dick Tatham, Peter Jones and Ian Dove. Green's background was in show business and he emphasised music hall, a dying tradition. He published articles and interviews connected with theatre and musical personalities. His interest in gossip from TV, radio, stage and screen was not well received.

On 22 January 1955 Record Mirror became the second music paper after NME to publish a singles chart. The chart was a Top 10, from postal returns from 24 stores. On 8 October the chart expanded to Top 20, and by 1956 more than 60 stores were being sampled. In April 1961 increased postage costs affected funding of the returns and on 24 March 1962 the paper abandoned its charts and began using those of Record Retailer, which had begun in March 1960.[4]

The first album charts in the UK were published in Record Mirror on 28 July 1956.[5]

For two months in 1959, Record Mirror failed to appear due to a national printing strike. On its return, Green renamed it Record and Show Mirror, the majority of space devoted to show business. By the end of 1960 circulation had fallen to 18,000 and Decca Records, the main shareholder, became uneasy. In March 1961, Decca replaced Green with Jimmy Watson, a former Decca press officer. Watson changed the title to New Record Mirror and eliminated show business. Circulation rose, aided by an editorial team of Peter Jones, Ian Dove and Norman Jopling. He brought in freelance columnists James Asman, Benny Green and DJ David Gell to implement a chart coverage including jazz, country and pop music. This eventually included the official UK Top 50 singles, Top 30 LPs and Top 10 EPs, as compiled by Record Retailer. The paper also listed the USA Top 50 singles, compiled by Cash Box, and charts such as the Top 20 singles of five years ago and R&B releases.

Features such as Ian Dove's "Rhythm & Blues Round Up", Peter Jones's "New Faces" and Norman Jopling's "Fallen Idols and Great Unknowns", combined with New Record Mirror's music coverage, helped circulation rise to nearly 70,000. New Record Mirror was the first national publication to publish an article on the Beatles, and the first to feature the Rolling Stones, the Searchers, the Who, and the Kinks. Bill Harry, founder and editor of the Liverpool publication Mersey Beat, wrote a column on Liverpool music. Other columnists reported on Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield and Newcastle. New Record Mirror took an interest in black American R&B artists. The paper maintained articles on old-style rock and roll.


During 1963 Decca Records' chairman Edward Lewis sold a substantial share of Decca's interest to John Junor, editor of the Sunday Express. Junor was looking for a paper to print by four-colour printing developed by Woodrow Wyatt in Banbury, before printing the Sunday Express in colour. Junor moved Sunday Express production to Shaftesbury Avenue and New Record Mirror became more mainstream. In November 1963, the paper returned to the name Record Mirror, and featured a colour picture of the Beatles on the cover, the first music paper in full colour. Although the first run of 120,000 sold out, the following issue fell to 60,000. Junor replaced Jimmy Watson by Peter Jones. Circulation recovered and the paper successfully continued with the same format throughout the 1960s. Following acquisition in 1962 of NME by Odhams, Record Mirror was the only independent popular music newspaper.

During 1969 Record Mirror was acquired by Record Retailer and incorporated into Record Retailer offices in Carnaby Street. The acquisition saw the magazine change printers, drop full colour pin-ups and increase its size to a larger tabloid format. Jones continued as editor, supported by Valerie Mabbs, Lon Goddard, Rob Partridge, Bill McAllister (the first music journalist to herald Elton John and Rod Stewart), and broadcast-specialist Rodney Collins, who had moved from Record Retailer. Collins's links with pirate radio gave Record Mirror a continental circulation and a Dutch supplement was frequently included. Terry Chappell resumed as production editor and Bob Houston supervised the change in format. Group editorial manager Mike Hennessey contributed the first interview with John Lennon. The Record Mirror photographic studio became independent, under Dezo Hoffmann.

In a studio outtake of a recording of "Sally Simpson" on the 2003 release of the deluxe edition of the Who's 1969 album Tommy, Pete Townshend said, "I read the Record Mirror". When Keith Moon presses him to tell what he read in the Record Mirror, Pete says that the paper said that he was known by the other members of the Who as "Bone".

In 1975 Disc was incorporated into Record Mirror – among the items brought to Record Mirror was J Edward Oliver's cartoon, which had been running in Disc for five years, and which continued for a two years in Record Mirror. By 1977 Record Retailer had become Music Week and Record Mirror was included in a sale by Billboard magazine to the Morgan-Grampian Group. Both offices moved to Covent Garden. Morgan-Grampian moved to Greater London House, north London in 1981.


In 1982 the paper changed from tabloid to glossy magazine. During the next nine years it had a more pop-orientated slant and containing features and comic articles, such as:

Inclusion of music charts

In 1984, when British tabloids started bingo competitions, Record Mirror became the first music paper to experiment with something similar. Record Mirror was the only magazine during the 1980s to print the weekly US singles and album charts, with analysis by chart statistician Alan Jones.

Music charts included

Inclusion of disco column

In June 1975 DJ James Hamilton (1942–1996) started writing a weekly "disco" column, which in the 1980s expanded into a general dance music section known as BPM. Hamilton had started DJing in London in the early 1960s, and had been writing about US soul and R&B for Record Mirror since 1964, originally as Dr Soul.[6] After a visit to the Paradise Garage in the 1970s to see Larry Levan play, he came back to the UK a convert to mixing records, unknown at the time. To promote his views, he developed his onomatopoeic style of describing a record, and from 1979 he started timing and including the beats per minute of records he reviewed.[6] Record Mirror became the first of the major music weeklies to pick up on acid house in the mid-80s. The pipe-smoking character Mr Acid Head was later picked up by a rave-based record label and used as sleeve art.

DJ Directory

Hamilton later included the DJ directory.

Article headings included in the DJ directory

Take over and closure

In 1987 Morgan-Grampian was acquired by United Newspapers (now UBM). On 2 April 1991 Record Mirror closed on the same day as its United Newspapers sister publication Sounds, with the last issue dated 6 April 1991. The final cover featured Transvision Vamp. Eleanor Levy, the final editor, believed the decision to close the magazine was "taken by accountants rather than people who understand music. When I explained to one of the management team that our strength was dance music, he thought I meant Jive Bunny."[7]

James Hamilton moved to the trade magazine, Jocks, which was changing to a dance magazine as DJ Mag. Record Mirror continued as a four-page supplement in Music Week. In later years the supplement concentrated on dance music: dance charts were later incorporated into Music Week. Hamilton continued to review record for the supplement until two weeks before his death on 17 June 1996.[6]



Photographic department
Production Editor


Photographic department


Business Team


See also


  1. "Bogus Italian lawyer Giovanni di Stefano is jailed for 14 years". BBC News. 28 March 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  2. William, Helen (28 March 2013). "Bogus 'lawyer' Giovanni di Stefano jailed for 14 years". The Independent. London, England: Independent Print Ltd. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
  3. Hepple, Peter (18 April 2005). "Obituaries: Simon Blumenfeld". The Stage. London, England: The Stage Media Company Ltd. Retrieved 9 December 2012.
  4. Smith, Alan. "50s & 60s UK Charts: A History". Retrieved 9 December 2012.
  5. Warwick, Neil; Kutner, Jon; Brown, Tony (2004). The Complete Book Of The British Charts: Singles and Albums (3rd ed.). London, England: Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-1-8444-9058-5.
  6. 1 2 3 "James Hamilton dies". Record Mirror supplement in Music Week. London, England: United Newspapers. 29 June 1996. p. 1.
  7. "Life Beyond the Rave?". Select (June 1991). London, England: EMAP. p. 4.
  8. Stuart Bailie's home page on BBC website
  9. Edwin J Bernard's autobiography on his personal website
  10. 1 2 Bailie, Stuart (19 August 2009). "Licenced to Gill". BBC. Retrieved 8 December 2012.
  11. 1 2 Glick, Beverley (6 May 2009). "She made me shine: tribute to Gill Smith". Retrieved 8 December 2012.
  12. Loben, Carl. "Living and breathing dance music". DJ Mag (June 2011). London, England: Thrust Publishing Ltd. Retrieved 8 December 2012.
  13. Beverley Glick's autobiography on her website, "The Pearl Within"
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