History of the UK Charts – Singles (Part 2)

As will become clear from this series of posts, the UK’s Official Charts Company has a slightly strange code around what is and isn’t considered an official chart. From 1969 onwards, despite some slightly confusing recent attempts at revisionism, we can pretty much all agree on what is and isn’t official. But the first seventeen years of the chart are rather more complex, and have tended to cause a degree of controversy among chart watchers.

Much of the blame for this can be given to The Guinness Book of British Hit Singles, compiled by Paul Gambaccini, Mike Read, Tim Rice and Jo Rice, and published to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the first chart in July 1977.

We can all agree that the NME Top 12 was the first published chart, starting in November 1952, which had grown to a Top 30 by the end of the 1950s, but for British Hit Singles, the decision was made to stop using that chart in March 1960, and switch to Record Retailer’s Top 50.

This has disadvantaged certain releases, perhaps most famously The Beatles‘ Please Please Me, which hit the top spot on the NME chart in March 1963, but only got to number two on the now-canonical Record Retailer chart. But the crux of the controversy appears to twofold: NME had a much higher circulation, so was better known by the public; and the size of the sample it used to compile charts was much larger – NME was sampling around 100 retailers, whereas Record Retailer was only sampling around 30.

The counter-argument, which doesn’t appear to be given often, is that of course Record Retailer (later renamed Music Week) was a trade magazine, established by record labels and dealers in August 1959, and so while its distribution was naturally smaller, its reputation should have been more solid. Their chart also seems to have been audited by slightly more reliable (and external) sources than other publications. Also, by March 1962, Record Mirror was also carrying these charts, surely increasing their reputation further still?

But neither the NME nor Record Retailer chart was, of course, really official at the time, the most recognised charts were really the ones in the publications that sold the most. But once British Hit Singles had decided what was official, that decision stuck, and now even the Official Charts Company follows that standard too.

Record Retailer

Record Retailer was launched as the trade magazine for independent record retailers, from August 1959, and when it switched the following year from being a monthly to weekly publication, it also started its own chart. Although published using returns from a small number of retailers (around 30), they produced the largest chart yet, a Top 50, and it was technically superior – it used postal returns, and whereas their competitors allowed tied positions, the Record Retailer chart compared the rate of change in sales to declare an absolute leader.

Crucially, Record Retailer’s chart was also independently audited, meaning that at least within the music business, it could be considered to have a degree of authority. This didn’t mean it was immune to abuse, though, as numerous accounts exist of record companies employing people to bulk-buy records.

Niche Charts and Reconciliation

It should come as little surprise that by the early 1960s, pretty much everybody had their own charts. The pirate radio stations were making charts up for themselves, and Merseybeat each launched one of their own in 1962. Within five years, one had merged into another publication, and the other had ceased to exist. 1962 also saw Record Mirror give up on its own chart, and start carrying the Record Retailer chart. Disc & Music Echo continued until 1967 before winding down its chart.

Modern-day chart watchers make laboured but persuasive arguments for regarding the NME chart as more official than the Record Retailer one during this period. The Official Charts Company rightly accepted the decision of the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles to use the Record Retailer ones, but at the same time, NME’s was very popular, Melody Maker’s was also widely used, and the Pick of the Pops chart was very well known.

This came to a head in August 1968, when the BBC’s points-based system led to a three-way tie at number one, between The Bee GeesThe Beach Boys, and Herb Alpert. They started working with Record Retailer to develop a new, official chart.

The Official Chart

From February 1969 onwards, there is no argument about which one the “official” chart is, as the British Market Research Bureau (BMRB) took over compilation of the charts, which were used by Record Retailer, Record Mirror, and BBC Radio 1. NME and Melody Maker were invited to take part, but the high costs of collecting a reliable chart appear to have prevented them from joining.

It had its teething problems – notably, the early BMRB charts contained multiple tied positions. It was initially compiled as a Top 50, although during a newspaper strike from February to March 1971, only a Top 40 was published (and a Top 20 broadcast on BBC Radio 1), and a postal strike in early 1973 led to only a Top 30 being published. This led to BMRB using motorcycle couriers to collect sales data, and by the mid-1970s it was well accepted as the official UK chart.

Apart from those blips, the chart remained a Top 50 until May 1978, when it grew to a Top 75 while BBC Radio 1 started taking interest in the Top 40. The chart remained a Top 75 until the 2012 relaunch of the Official Charts Company website, when they started listing the Top 100 Singles as official.

The compilers have changed, and the rules have changed many times, but for the last fifty years, the official UK chart has remained the most widely recognised source of information about musical successes in the UK.

On the Radio

Radio Luxembourg had been broadcasting charts for several years by this stage, starting with sheet music charts, then switching to the NME Top 20 until July 1965, when they worked with NME to use their Friday chart. In spring 1967, Paul Burnett replaced this with an airplay chart, but they were losing ground to the BBC. From 1970, they tried to predict the next week’s charts instead, and saw varying degrees of success.

The BBC Light Programme’s Pick of the Pops show had been broadcasting various charts from September 1957 onwards. In March 1958, David Jacobs started using a points-based system to combine the charts, counting them down live. Alan Freeman took over, still using the same system and overseeing the show’s move to Sunday nights and then later to BBC Radio 1 in October 1967. The show started using the new official BMRB chart at some point after it launched in February 1969.

Pick of the Pops was replaced by Tom Browne‘s Solid Gold Sixty in October 1972, featuring highlights and the full Top 20. Simon Bates took over in April 1978, who saw the show extended to a two hour show playing the full Top 40, before passing on the baton to Tony Blackburn the following year.

Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Tommy VanceRichard SkinnerBruno Brookes, and Mark Goodier took the helm, as the show grew to two-and-a-half and then three hours. This, the iconic format remained, fronted by Wes ButtersJK and JoelFearne CottonReggie YatesJameela Jamil, and Clara Amfo until it finally left the Sunday slot.

The Chart Show moved to Friday afternoons in July 2015, with Greg James taking over as presenter, and then Scott Mills jumped into the role more recently.

Next time: the birth of the UK Album Chart.

This series of posts owes a lot to the following sources which weren’t directly credited above:

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Ivor Novello Awards – The 1960s

Before we launch into the “Ivors” from the sixties, a quick word about the credits here. The Ivor Novello Awards are, unusually and entirely laudably, given for songwriting rather than performing, but that isn’t necessarily compatible with most people understand music. In the interests of context, I’ve therefore added performer names where I know them (but I didn’t bother researching them in a lot of detail, so please comment below if you see things you feel need changing!)

Apart from the usual pop suspects, it’s great to see awards and nominations for John Barry and Ron Grainer in amongst these lists!

Ivor Novello Awards 1960

The fifth Ivor Novello Awards were broadcast on BBC Television on 6th June 1960, with Eric Robinson conducting the Orchestra, led by David McCallum.

  • The Best Selling and Most Performed Song of the Year: Side Saddle, written by Russ Conway. Also nominated: Living Doll, by Lionel Bart
  • The Most Outstanding Song of the Year, Musically and Lyrically: The Village of St. Bernadette, written by Eula Parker. Also nominated: Maybe This Year, by Ronald Wakley and Marcel Stellman
  • The Year’s Outstanding Novelty Item: The Ballad of Bethnal Green, written by Paddy Roberts. Also nominated: Little White Bull, by Michael Pratt, Lionel Bart and Tommy Steele
  • The Year’s Outstanding Composition in Jazz or Beat Idiom: Beaulieu Festival Suite, written by Kenny Graham. Also nominated: Jazzboatby Joe Henderson
  • The Year’s Outstanding Light Orchestral Composition: Windows of Parish, written by Tony Osborne. Also nominated: Ring Ding, by Steve Race
  • The Year’s Outstanding Contribution to the Score of a Stage Play, Film, TV Programme or Radio Production: Lock Up Your Daughters, written by Lionel Bart and Laurie Johnson. Also nominated: Meet The Familyby Peter Greenwell and Peter Wildeblood
  • Outstanding Personal Services to British Popular Music: Lionel Bart

Ivor Novello Awards 1961

The 1961 ceremony was presented by W.E. Butlin, and broadcast on BBC Television on 20th May 1961. The broadcast was introduced by David Jacobs, and starred Max Bygraves, Georgia Brown, Matt Monro, Craig Douglas, Bert Weedon, Paddy Roberts, Max Harris and Douglas Gamley. Eric Robinson conducted the orchestra which was led by David McCallum.

  • The Best Selling and Most Performed Song of the Year: As Long As He Needs Me, written by Lionel Bart. Also nominated: Apache, performed by The Shadows, written by Jerry Lordan
  • The Most Outstanding Song of the Year, Musically and Lyrically: Portrait Of My Love, written by Norman Newell and Cyril Ornadel. Also nominated: As Long As He Needs Me, by Lionel Bart
  • The Year’s Outstanding Light Orchestral Composition: Seashore, written by Robert Farnon. Also nominated: The Willow Waltz, by Cyril Watters
  • The Year’s Outstanding Composition in Jazz or Beat Idiom: Apache. Also nominated: Hit and Miss, by John Barry
  • The Year’s Outstanding Contribution to the Score of a Stage Play, Film, TV Programme or Radio Production: Oliver, written by Lionel Bart. Also nominated: The Gurney Slade Theme, by Max Harris
  • Judges’ Choice Award (any work which in the opinion of the Judges, is worthy of an Award, but which may not necessarily be governed by Existing Categories): Goodness Gracious Me, written by Herbert Kretzmer and David Lee. Also nominated: The Belle of Barking Creek, by Paddy Roberts
  • Outstanding Personal Services to British Popular Music: Eric Maschwitz
  • Special Award: What Do You Want If You Don’t Want Money?, written by Johnny Worth

Ivor Novello Awards 1962

W.E. Butlin turned up again for the 1962 ceremony, broadcast on BBC Television on 13th May 1962. The broadcast was introduced by Catherine Boyle and starred Cliff Richard and The Shadows, Anthony Newley, Helen Shapiro and Her Hair, Matt Monro, Johnny Dankworth and His Orchestra, Tony Osborne, Ron Grainer and The Ivor Raymonde Singers. Eric Robinson conducted the orchestra, led by David McCallum.

  • The Most Performed Work of the Year: My Kind of Girl, written by Leslie Bricusse. Also nominated: Portrait of My Love, by Cyril Ornadel and Norman Newell
  • The ‘A’ Side of the Record Issued in 1961 Which Achieved the Highest Certified British Sales: Walkin’ Back To Happiness, written by Michael Hawker and John Schroeder. Also nominated: Are You Sure, by Bob Allison and John Allison
  • The Most Outstanding Song of the Year, Musically and Lyrically: What Kind of Fool Am I?, written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley. Also nominated: No Greater Love, by Michael Carr and Bunny Lewis
  • The Year’s Outstanding Light Orchestral Composition: The Secrets of the Seine, written by Tony Osborne. Also nominated: Stranger on the Shore, by Acker Bilk
  • The Year’s Outstanding Original Jazz Composition: African Waltz, written by Galt Macdermot. Also nominated: Duddly Dell, by Dudley Moore
  • The Year’s Outstanding Score of a Musical Stage Play: Stop The World I Want to Get Off, written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley
  • The Year’s Outstanding Composition in a Film, Radio Production or Television Programme: The Maigret Theme, written by Ron Grainer. Also nominated: The Avengers’ Theme, by Johnny Dankworth
  • Outstanding Services to British Music: Cliff Richard and The Shadows

Ivor Novello Awards 1963

For the third year running, W.E. Butlin presented the eighth Ivor Novello ceremony, broadcast on BBC Television on 4th May 1963. The broadcast was introduced by Catherine Boyle and starred Acker Bilk, Matt Monro, The Tornados, Steve Race, Ron Grainer, Gordon Franks and Cliff Richard and The Shadows.

  • The Most Performed Work of the Year: Stranger on the Shore, written by Acker Bilk. Also nominated: Wonderful Land, by Jerry Lordan
  • The ‘A’ Side of the Record Issued in 1962 Which Achieved the Highest Certified British Sales: Telstar, written by Joe Meek. Also nominated: Bachelor Boy, by Cliff Richard and Bruce Welch
  • The Most Outstanding Song of the Year, Musically and Lyrically: My Love and Devotion, written by Howard Barnes, Harold Fields and Joe Roncoroni. Also nominated: Jeannie, by Norman Newell and Russ Conway
  • The Year’s Outstanding Light Orchestral or Other Non-Vocal Composition: Nicola, written by Steve Race. Also nominated: Turkish Coffee, by Tony Osborne
  • The Year’s Outstanding Original Jazz Composition: Outbreak of Murder, written by Gordon Franks. Also nominated: Revival, by Joe Harriott
  • The Year’s Outstanding Score of a Musical: Summer Holiday, performed by Cliff Richard and The Shadows. Also nominated: Blitz, written by Lionel Bart
  • The Year’s Outstanding Composition in a Film, Radio Production or Television Programme: Steptoe and Son, written by Ron Grainer. Also nominated: March from A Little Suite, by Trevor Duncan
  • Special Award for Outstanding Services to British Popular and Light Music: Lawrence Wright

Ivor Novello Awards 1964

As we now know, 1963 was the year when popular music changed for good, with The Beatles rising to fame. For the 1964 award ceremony, they evolved quickly, ditching most of the jazz instrumentals and switching to a heavy focus on the Fab Four.

  • The Most Broadcast Work of the Year: She Loves You, performed by The Beatles and written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Also nominated: Dance One, by Elaine Murtagh, Valerie Murtagh and Ray Adams
  • The ‘A’ Side of the Record Issued in 1963 Which Achieved the Highest Certified British Sales: She Loves You, by The Beatles. Also nominated: I Want To Hold Your Hand, same artist
  • The Year’s Outstanding Song: If I Ruled The World, written by Leslie Bricusse and Cyril Ornadel. Also nominated: All My Loving, by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
  • The Year’s Outstanding Orchestral / Instrumental Composition: Carlos’ Theme, written by Ivor Slaney. Also nominated: Scarlett O’Hara, by Jerry Lordan
  • The Year’s Outstanding Jazz Work: What the Dickens, written by Johnny Dankworth. Also nominated: Sweet September, by Bill McGuffie
  • The Year’s Outstanding Score of a Musical Show, For Stage, Cinema, Television or Radio: Theme from The Avengers, written by Johnny Dankworth. Also nominated: Half a Sixpence, by David Heneker
  • The Year’s Most Amusing or Novel Composition: Flash, Bang, Wallop, written by David Heneker. Also nominated: Harvest of Love, by Benny Hill and Tony Hatch
  • Special Award for Outstanding Services to British Music: The Beatles and some additional hangers-on (Brian Epstein, George Harrison, John Lennon, George Martin, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr)
  • Special Award in Recognition of Fifty Years’ Service to the Music Industry: Performing Rights Society

Ivor Novello Awards 1965

The tenth ceremony, somewhat hilariously sponsored by Sir Billy Butlin (yes, him), took place on 13th July 1965 at the Savoy Hotel.

  • The Most Performed Work of the Year: Can’t Buy Me Love, performed by The Beatles, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Also nominated: Hard Day’s Night
  • The ‘A’ Side of the Record Issued in 1964 Which Achieved the Highest Certified British Sales: Can’t Buy Me Love. Also nominated: I Feel Fine, same artist
  • Outstanding Song of 1964: Downtown, written by Tony Hatch. Also nominated: Losing You, by Tom Springfield and Clive Westlake
  • The Year’s Outstanding Orchestral / Instrumental Composition: Bombay Duckling, written by Max Harris
  • The Year’s Outstanding Theme from Radio, TV or Film: Not So Much A Programme, More A Way Of Life, written by Caryl Brahms, Ron Grainer and Ned Sherrin. Also nominated: Hard Day’s Night
  • The Year’s Outstanding Score of a Stage Musical: Robert and Elizabeth, written by Ron Grainer and Ronald Millar. Also nominated: Maggie May, written by Lionel Bart
  • Special Award for Outstanding Services to British Music: Paddy Roberts

Ivor Novello Awards 1966

The 1966 ceremony, also sponsored by Sir Billy Butlin, took place at the Hammersmith Palais, London, and was introduced by Brian Matthew with Joe Loss and His Orchestra. It was broadcast on the BBC Light Programme on 12th July 1966.

  • The Most Performed Work of the Year: I’ll Never Find Another You, written by Tom Springfield. Also nominated: March of the Mods, written by Tony Carr
  • The ‘A’ Side of the Record Issued in 1965 Which Achieved the Highest Certified British Sales: We Can Work It Out, performed by The Beatles, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Also nominated: Help
  • Outstanding Song of 1965: Yesterday, performed by The Beatles, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Also nominated: Where Are You Now My Love, written by Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent
  • The Year’s Outstanding Beat Song: It’s Not Unusual, performed by Tom Jones, written by Gordon Mills and Les Reed. Also nominated: Look Through Any Window, by Graham Gouldman and Charles Silverman
  • The Year’s Outstanding Novelty Composition: A Windmill In Old Amsterdam, written by Ted Dicks and Myles Rudge. Also nominated: Mrs Brown, You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter, written by Trevor Peacock
  • The Year’s Outstanding Score of a Stage Musical: Charlie Girl, written by David Heneker and John Taylor
  • The Year’s Outstanding Contemporary Folk Song: Catch the Wind, by Donovan
  • The Year’s Outstanding Instrumental Composition: March of the Mods, written by Tony Carr. Also nominated: The Kiss, by Jack Parnell
  • Special Award for Outstanding Services to British Music: BBC TV, for the production of the series A Song For Europe

Ivor Novello Awards 1967

Still sponsored by Sir Billy Butlin, the twelfth ceremony took place at the Lyceum Ballroom, London, was introduced by Brian Matthew with Joe Loss and His Orchestra, and was broadcast on the BBC Light Programme on 27th March 1967.

  • The Most Performed Work of the Year: Michelle, performed by The Beatles, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Also nominated: Yesterday
  • The ‘A’ Side of the Record Issued in 1966 Which Achieved the Highest Certified British Sales: Yellow Submarine, performed by The Beatles, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Also nominated: What Would I Be, written by Jackie Trent
  • Britain’s International Song of the Year: Winchester Cathedral, written by Geoff Stephens. Also nominated: Call Me, written by Tony Hatch
  • Film Song of the Year: Born Free, written by John Barry and Don Black. Also nominated: Time Drags By, performed by The Shadows, written by Hank Marvin, Bruce Welch, Brian Bennett and John Rostill
  • Novelty Song of the Year: Hev Yew Gotta Loight, Boy?, written by Allan Smethurst. Also nominated: Dedicated Follower of Fashion, written by Ray Davies
  • Instrumental Composition of the Year: The Power Game, written by Wayne Hill. Also nominated: Khartoum, written by Frank Cordell
  • Special Award for Outstanding Services to British Music: Joe Loss

Ivor Novello Awards 1968

For some reason, from 1968 onwards, history no longer seems to record the nominated but losing entries.

  • The Most Performed Work of the Year: Puppet on a String, written by Phil Coulter and Bill Martin
  • The ‘A’ Side of the Record Issued in 1967 Which Achieved the Highest Certified British Sales: The Last Waltz, written by Barry Mason and Les Reed
  • Britain’s International Song of the Year: A Whiter Shade of Pale, performed by Procul Harum, written by Gary Brooker and Keith Reid
  • Best British Song, Musically and Lyrically: She’s Leaving Home, performed by The Beatles, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
  • Novelty Song of the Year: Grocer Jack, written by Keith West and Mark Wirtz
  • Best Instrumental Theme: Love in the Open Air, written by Paul McCartney
  • Special Award: Leslie Bricusse, for The Film Score Doctor Dolittle
  • Outstanding Services to British Music: Alan Herbert

Ivor Novello Awards 1969

The fourteenth Ivor Novello Awards were sponsored by the BBC, and took place on 22nd May 1969.

  • The Most Performed Work of the Year: Congratulations, performed by Cliff Richard, written by Phil Coulter and Bill Martin
  • The ‘A’ Side of the Record Issued in 1968 Which Achieved the Highest Certified British Sales: Hey Jude, performed by The Beatles, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
  • Britain’s International Song of the Year: Delilah, written by Barry Mason and Les Reed
  • The Most Romantic Song of the Year: I Close My Eyes And Count To Ten, written by Clive Westlake
  • Outstanding Dance / Beat Song of the Year: Build Me Up Buttercup, written by Michael D’Abo and Tony Macaulay
  • Novelty Song of the Year: I’m The Urban Spaceman, written by Neil Innes
  • Light Music Composition of the Year: Ring of Kerry, written by Peter Hope
  • Outstanding Services to British Music: Andrew Gold (presented posthumously)

Further Reading

NME Poll Winners 1952-1992 (Part One)

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that we’ve spent the last few weeks working through the history of the NME Polls, from 1952 to 1992. It’s a long and complicated history, and one that pretty much encapsulates the first forty years of modern popular music in the UK. So as a side-step, it’s worth taking a couple of posts to look at them, award by award.

With such a complex history, it’s hard to trace the winners of a particular category through time, so I’ve taken a few liberties here. Essentially anything that seems to be roughly the same category has been treated as the same thing. Also, for the year ranges, there are a few missing years here and there, so for instance 1967-1970 could mean anything between 2 and 3 wins, but it definitely isn’t 4, as we have no information for the poll results from 1969, or even any meaningful confirmation that the poll took place.

Best and Worst Single, Video and Album Categories

Here are all the winners for specific singles, videos, and albums, including the wonderful “Best Dressed Album” (later “Best Dressed Sleeve”) award.

Best British Disc / Single

  • 1959 – Cliff Richard – Living Doll
  • 1960 – The Shadows – Apache
  • 1961 – John Leyton – Johnny Remember Me
  • 1962 – Frank Ifield – I Remember You
  • 1963 – The Beatles – She Loves You
  • 1964 – The Animals – The House of the Rising Sun
  • 1965 – The Rolling Stones – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
  • 1966 – The Beatles – Eleanor Rigby
  • 1968 – The Beatles – Hey Jude
  • 1971 – Mungo Jerry – In the Summertime
  • 1972 – George Harrison – My Sweet Lord
  • 1973 – Golden Earring – Radar Love (World) & The Who – 5.15 (British)
  • 1975 – Bad Company – Can’t Get Enough
  • 1976 – Thin Lizzy – The Boys are Back in Town
  • 1977 – Sex Pistols – God Save the Queen
  • 1978 – The Clash – (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais
  • 1979 – The Specials – Gangsters
  • 1980 – The Jam – Going Underground
  • 1981 – The Specials – Ghost Town
  • 1982 – The Jam – Town Called Malice
  • 1983 – New Order – Blue Monday
  • 1984 – Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Relax
  • 1985 – The Jesus and Mary Chain – Never Understand
  • 1986 – The Smiths – Panic
  • 1987 – Prince – Sign O The Times
  • 1988 – The House of Love – Destroy the Heart
  • 1989 – The Stone Roses – Fool’s Gold
  • 1990 – The Charlatans – The Only One I Know
  • 1991 – Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
  • 1992 – Suede – The Drowners

Best Dance Record

  • 1982 – Wham! – Young Guns (Go for It)
  • 1986 – Cameo – Word Up
  • 1987 – M/A/R/R/S – Pump Up the Volume
  • 1989 – Happy Mondays – WFL

Worst Record

  • 1991 – Bryan Adams – Everything I Do (I Do It for You)
  • 1992 – The Shamen – Ebeneezer Goode

Best Music Video

  • 1982 – Madness – House of Fun
  • 1983 – Michael Jackson – Thriller
  • 1984 – Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Two Tribes
  • 1985 – Talking Heads – Road to Nowhere

Best Long Player / Album

  • 1971 – The Beatles – Let it Be
  • 1972 – T. Rex – Electric Warrior & John Lennon – Imagine (tie)
  • 1973 – Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon
  • 1975 – Rod Stewart – Smiler
  • 1976 – Led Zeppelin – The Song Remains the Same
  • 1977 – Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks
  • 1978 – The Jam – All Mod Cons
  • 1979 – The Jam – Setting Sons
  • 1980 – The Jam – Sound Affects
  • 1981 – Echo and the Bunnymen – Heaven Up Here
  • 1982 – The Jam – The Gift
  • 1983 – Elvis Costello – Punch the Clock
  • 1984 – Cocteau Twins – Treasure
  • 1985 – The Smiths – Meat is Murder
  • 1986 – The Smiths – The Queen is Dead
  • 1987 – The Smiths – Strangeways Here We Come
  • 1988 – R.E.M. – Green
  • 1989 – The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses
  • 1990 – Happy Mondays – Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches
  • 1991 – Primal Scream – Screamadelica
  • 1992 – R.E.M. – Automatic for the People

Best Dressed Album / Sleeve

  • 1973 – Yes – Yessongs
  • 1975 – Yes – Relayer
  • 1976 – Led Zeppelin – The Song Remains the Same
  • 1978 – The Rolling Stones – Some Girls
  • 1980 – The Jam – Sound Affects
  • 1981 – Echo and the Bunnymen – Heaven Up Here
  • 1982 – Siouxsie and the Banshees – A Kiss in the Dreamhouse
  • 1983 – New Order – Power, Corruption and Lies
  • 1984 – Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Welcome to the Pleasuredome
  • 1985 – The Pogues – Rum, Sodomy and the Lash

Media Categories

The group of media awards, for radio, TV, films, and venues, are particularly fascinating, since other award ceremonies rarely have anything like this.

Best Disc Jockey

  • 1955-1957 – Jack Jackson
  • 1958-1959 – Pete Murray
  • 1960-1963 – David Jacobs
  • 1965-1972 – Jimmy Savile
  • 1973 – John Peel
  • 1975 – Noel Edmonds
  • 1976-1980 – John Peel

Best Music Radio Show

  • 1975-1976 – Alan Freeman
  • 1977-1992 – John Peel

Best TV Show

  • 1965-1972 – Top of the Pops
  • 1973-1977 – The Old Grey Whistle Test
  • 1978 – Revolver
  • 1979 – Fawlty Towers
  • 1980 – Not the Nine O’Clock News
  • 1981 – Coronation Street
  • 1982 – The Young Ones
  • 1983-1984 – The Tube
  • 1985 – The Old Grey Whistle Test
  • 1986 – The Singing Detective
  • 1987-1988 – Brookside
  • 1989 – Blackadder
  • 1990-1991 – Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out
  • 1992 – Have I Got News for You

Best Film

  • 1978 – Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • 1979 – Quadrophenia
  • 1980 – The Elephant Man
  • 1981 – Gregory’s Girl
  • 1982 – E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
  • 1983 – Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence
  • 1984 – Nineteen Eighty-Four
  • 1985 – Letter to Brezhnev
  • 1986 – Mona Lisa
  • 1987 – Angel Heart
  • 1988 – A Fish Called Wanda
  • 1989 – Dead Poets’ Society
  • 1990 – Wild at Heart
  • 1991 – The Silence of the Lambs
  • 1992 – Wayne’s World

Best Club / Venue

  • 1986 – Town and Country Club
  • 1989 – The Haçienda
  • 1990-1992 – Town and Country Club

Best Fashion Item

  • 1989 – Flares
  • 1990-1992 – Dr. Marten Boots

People Categories

In later years, the poll included some odd nominations for people, often outside of the world of music, which provide an interesting window on the past.

Most Wonderful Human Being

  • 1976-1977 – Johnny Rotten
  • 1978 – Sid Vicious
  • 1979 – John Peel
  • 1980-1983 – Paul Weller
  • 1984 – Arthur Scargill
  • 1985 – Bob Geldof
  • 1986-1988 – Morrissey

Klutz/Prat/Creep/Bastard of the Year

  • 1975 – Steve Harley
  • 1977 – Freddie Mercury
  • 1978 – John Travolta
  • 1979 – Gary Numan
  • 1980 – Margaret Thatcher
  • 1981 – Adam Ant
  • 1982-1989 – Margaret Thatcher
  • 1990-1991 – Saddam Hussein
  • 1992 – John Major

Best Dressed Male

  • 1979 – Gary Numan
  • 1980 – Adam Ant
  • 1981 – Michael Foot
  • 1982 – Paul Weller
  • 1983 – David Bowie
  • 1984 – Paul Weller
  • 1985 – Morrissey

Best Dressed Female

  • 1982-1983 – Siouxsie Sioux

Worst Dressed Person

  • 1985 – Bob Geldof

Most missed Dead Person

  • 1976 – Jimi Hendrix
  • 1981 – John Lennon

Political and Real World Categories

These are some of the oddest categories – I’m honestly not sure what the “Hype of the Year” category was all about, but it is interesting to see just what was catching people’s eyes at the time.

Event of the Year

  • 1977 – Death of Elvis Presley
  • 1980 – Death of John Lennon
  • 1982 – The Jam Split
  • 1986 – 1986 FIFA World Cup
  • 1987 – Nuclear Agreement
  • 1988 – Nelson Mandela’s Birthday Bash
  • 1989 – Revolution in Eastern Europe
  • 1990 – Margaret Thatcher’s Resignation
  • 1991 – The release of the hostages
  • 1992 – Bill Clinton winning the US election

Pin-Up/Sex SYmbol/Object of Desire

  • 1978 – Debbie Harry
  • 1986 – Joanne Whalley
  • 1988-1989 – Wendy James
  • 1990 – Betty Boo
  • 1991-1992 – Toni Halliday

Bad News of the Year

  • 1987 – Another Conservative Victory at the General Election
  • 1988 – US Election Result

Hype of the Year

  • 1985 – The Jesus and Mary Chain
  • 1989 – Batman
  • 1990 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • 1992 – Madonna – Sex

That concludes part one of the summary of NME Poll Winners. Next week, we’ll look at the artist categories.

NME Poll Winners – The 1960s

By the 1960s, the names of the NME Poll Winners should be starting to become rather more familiar to you. The timelines are still a bit confusing, with one year apparently missing in its entirety, but hopefully this will make some kind of sense.

1960

Held at Wembley’s Empire Bowl, presented by Connie Francis.

  • World Male Singer: Elvis Presley
  • World Female Singer: Connie Francis
  • World Vocal Group: Everly Brothers
  • World Musical Personality: Duane Eddy
  • British Vocal Group: King Brothers
  • British Large Band or Orchestra: Ted Heath
  • British Female Singer: Shirley Bassey
  • British Male Singer: Cliff Richard
  • British Vocal Personality: Lonnie Donegan
  • British Small Group: The Shadows
  • Best British Disc of the Year: The Shadows, for Apache
  • New Disc or TV Singer: Emile Ford
  • Instrumental Personality: Russ Conway
  • Artist for Poll Concert: Adam Faith
  • Disc Jockey: David Jacobs

Apache was first released in July 1960, so this is the 1960 poll, for which the party would have been in early 1961.

1961

Held at Wembley’s Empire Bowl, presented by Brenda Lee.

  • World Female Singer: Connie Francis
  • World Musical Personality: Elvis Presley
  • World Male Singer: Elvis Presley
  • World Vocal Group: Everly Brothers
  • British Vocal Personality: Adam Faith
  • British Vocal Group: The Springfields
  • Instrumental Personality: Bert Weedon
  • British Small Group: The Shadows
  • British Large Band or Orchestra: Ted Heath
  • Best British Disc of the Year: John Leyton, for Johnny Remember Me
  • British Male Singer: Cliff Richard
  • Artist For Poll Concert: Billy Fury
  • British Traditional Jazz Band: Acker Bilk
  • British Female Singer: Helen Shapiro
  • New Disc or TV Singer: John Leyton
  • Disc Jockey: David Jacobs

Johnny Remember Me was first released in July 1961, so this is the 1961 poll, for which the party would have been in early 1962.

1962

Presented by Roger Moore.

  • World’s Outstanding Male Singer: Elvis Presley
  • World’s Outstanding Female Singer: Brenda Lee
  • World’s Outstanding Vocal Group: Everly Brothers
  • World’s Outstanding Musical Personality: Elvis Presley
  • British Male Singer: Cliff Richard
  • British Female Singer: Helen Shapiro
  • British Vocal Group: The Springfields
  • British Vocal Personality: Joe Brown
  • British Solo Instrumentalist: Jet Harris
  • British Large Band/ Orchestra: Joe Loss
  • British Small Group: The Shadows
  • British Traditional Jazz Band: Kenny Ball
  • British Disc Jockey: David Jacobs
  • British New Disc or TV Singer: Frank Ifield
  • British Best Disc in 1962: Frank Ifield, for I Remember You
  • Artist for Poll Concert: Billy Fury

This version of I Remember You was first released in May 1962, so this is the 1962 poll, for which the party would have been in early 1963.

1963

Held at Wembley’s Empire Bowl, 3 May 1964, presented by Roy Orbison.

  • World Male Singer: Cliff Richard
  • World Vocal Group: The Beatles
  • World Musical Personality: Elvis Presley
  • World Female Singer: Brenda Lee
  • British Vocal Personality: Joe Brown
  • British Vocal Group: The Beatles
  • British Large Band or Orchestra: Joe Loss
  • British Small Group: The Shadows
  • British Traditional Jazz Band: Kenny Ball
  • Best British Disc Of The Year: The Beatles, for She Loves You
  • British Female Singer: Kathy Kirby
  • Artist For Poll Concert: Billy J Kramer and The Dakotas
  • British Male Singer: Cliff Richard
  • Disc Jockey: David Jacobs
  • New Disc or TV Singer: Gerry Marsden
  • Solo Instrumentalist: Jet Harris

She Loves You was first released in July 1963, so this is the 1963 poll, for which the party would have been in early 1964.

1964

Held at Wembley’s Empire Pool, April 1965, presented by Tony Bennett.

  • Outstanding Male Singer: Elvis Presley
  • Outstanding Female Singer: Brenda Lee
  • Outstanding Vocal Group: The Beatles
  • Outstanding Musical Personality: Elvis Presley
  • British Male Singer: Cliff Richard
  • British Female Singer: Dusty Springfield
  • British Vocal Group: The Beatles
  • British Vocal Personality: Cliff Richard
  • British Rhythm and Blues: The Rolling Stones
  • British Instrumental Unit: The Shadows
  • British TV or Radio Programme: Ready Steady Go!
  • British Disc Jockey: Jimmy Savile
  • British New Disc or TV Singer: Mick Jagger
  • British Disc This Year: The Animals, for The House of the Rising Sun

The House of the Rising Sun was first recorded by The Animals in May 1964, so this is the 1964 poll, for which the party would have been in early 1965.

1965

Presented by Jimmy Savile.

  • World Male Singer: Elvis Presley
  • World Musical Personality: Elvis Presley
  • British R & B Group: The Rolling Stones
  • Disc Jockey: Jimmy Savile
  • World Female Singer: Dusty Springfield
  • World Vocal Group: The Beatles
  • British Vocal Group: The Beatles
  • British Male Singer: Cliff Richard
  • British Vocal Personality: John Lennon
  • British Female Singer: Dusty Springfield
  • New Disc or TV Singer: Donovan
  • British Instrumental Unit: The Shadows
  • Best New Group: Seekers
  • Best TV or Radio Show: Top of the Pops
  • Best New Disc of the Year: The Rolling Stones, for (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction was first released in June 1965, so this is the 1965 poll, for which the party would have been in early 1966.

1966

Held at Wembley Pool, presented by Jimmy Savile and Simon Dee.

  • World Male Singer: Elvis Presley
  • World Female Singer: Dusty Springfield
  • World Vocal Group: The Beach Boys
  • World Musical Personality: Elvis Presley
  • British Vocal Group: The Beatles
  • British Instrumental Unit: The Shadows
  • Best Male Singer: Cliff Richard
  • British Vocal Personality: Cliff Richard
  • Best R&B Group: Spencer Davis
  • Best TV/Radio Show: Top of the Pops
  • Top Disc Jockey: Jimmy Savile
  • British Female Singer: Dusty Springfield
  • New Disc Singer: Stevie Winwood
  • Best New Group: Spencer Davis
  • Best British Disc This Year: The Beatles, for Eleanor Rigby

Eleanor Rigby was first released in August 1966, so this is the 1966 poll, for which the party would have been in early 1967.

1967

Presented by Roger Moore.

  • World’s Top Vocal Group: The Beatles
  • Best R & B Group: The Rolling Stones
  • Britain’s Top Singer: Cliff Richard
  • World’s Top Female Singer: Dusty Springfield
  • Top DJs: Jimmy Savile
  • Top TV Show: Top of the Pops
  • Best New Singer: Engelbert Humperdinck
  • Best New Group: Bee Gees

1968

Held at Wembley’s Empire Pool, 11 May 1969, presented by Jimmy Savile and Tony Blackburn.

  • World Male Singer: Elvis Presley
  • World Female Singer: Lulu
  • World Vocal Group: The Beatles
  • World Musical Personality: Elvis Presley
  • British Vocal Group: The Beatles
  • British Female Singer: Lulu
  • Top Disc Jockey: Jimmy Savile
  • Best TV/ Radio Show: Top of The Pops
  • Best New Group: Love Affair
  • British Vocal Personality: Cliff Richard
  • British R&B Group: The Rolling Stones
  • Best British Disc This Year: The Beatles, for Hey Jude
  • British Male Singer: Tom Jones
  • New Disc Singer: Mary Hopkins
  • British Instrumental Unit: The Shadows

Hey Jude was first released in August 1968, so this is the 1968 poll, for which the party would have been in early 1969.

1969

Despite what the NME website says, I don’t believe there was a 1969 poll, hence there being no results to print. The ceremony related to the 1968 poll, detailed above.

See also