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.

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NME Poll Winners – The 1950s

The jazz newspaper New Musical Express launched in 1952, a jazz newspaper which grew from the ashes of the Accordion Times and Musical Express. In mid-November, it famously launched the UK’s first singles chart, a top twelve.

I think they launched the NME Poll in 1952, with the poll winners’ party a couple of months later, but honestly NME’s own timeline on their website is a bit sketchy. I’ve done my best to make sense of it, but I’m not sure I fully understand it!

1952

The party for the 1952 awards, held at the Royal Albert Hall, 19 April 1953, presented by Scott Brady and Mary Castle.

  • Dance Band: Ted Heath and His Music
  • Female Vocalist: Lita Roza
  • Outstanding Musician: Ronnie Scott
  • Small Band: Johnny Dankworth Seven
  • Male Vocalist: Dickie Valentine

1953

Held at the Royal Albert Hall, 25 April 1954, presented by Nat ‘King’ Cole. I believe the NME article actually unintentionally omits the 1954 results.

1954

Held at the Royal Albert Hall, 14 February 1955, presented by Nigel Patrick.

  • Large Band: Ted Heath and His Music
  • Male Vocalist: Dickie Valentine
  • Small Band: Ronnie Scott and His Orchestra
  • Female Vocalist: Lita Roza
  • Musician of the Year: Eric Delaney
  • Vibraphone Player: Victor Feldman
  • Piano Player: Bill McGuffie
  • Trumpet Player: Kenny Baker
  • Vocal Group: Stargazers
  • Alto Sax Player: Johnny Dankworth
  • Bass Player: Johnny Hawksworth
  • Clarinet Player: [illegible] – NME website says Carl Barriteau, but this is an error
  • Baritone Sax Player: Harry Klein
  • Trombone Player: Don Lusher
  • Arranger: Reg Owen
  • Tenor Sax Player: Tommy Whittle
  • Guitar Player: Bert Weedon
  • Outstanding Drummer: [illegible] – NME website says Jack Parnell, but this is an error
  • Band You Would Most Like To See At The NME Pollwinners’ Concert: Johnny Dankworth’s Orchestra

These results are listed in the 1954 article on the NME website but a scan on the 1955 page, so this is the 1954 poll, for which the party would have been in early 1955.

1955

Held at the Royal Albert Hall, 29 January 1956.

  • Outstanding American Feminine Singer: Doris Day
  • The World’s Outstanding Musical Personality: Bill Haley
  • Top Male Singer: Dickie Valentine
  • Outstanding American Male Singer: Frank Sinatra
  • Outstanding British Musical Personality: Dickie Valentine
  • World’s Outstanding Singer: Frank Sinatra
  • Outstanding British Feminine Singer: Alma Cogan
  • Outstanding British Male Singer: Dickie Valentine
  • World’s Outstanding Vocal Group: Four Aces
  • Large Band Section: Ted Heath and His Music
  • Favourite Disc Jockey: Jack Jackson
  • Small Bands: The Kirchins
  • British Vocal Group: Stargazers

Dickie Valentine and Alma Cogan both had their commercial peak was in 1955, so this is the 1955 poll, for which the party would have been in early 1956.

1956

Held at the Royal Albert Hall, early February 1957, presented by John Gregson.

  • Large Band: Ted Heath
  • Small Band: The Kirchins
  • Musician Of The Year: Eddie Calvert
  • Favourite American Singer- Female: Doris Day
  • Favourite American Singer- Male: Frank Sinatra
  • Female Dance Band Vocalist: Rose Brennan
  • Male Solo Singing Star: Dickie Valentine
  • Female Solo Singing Star: Ruby Murray
  • Favourite Musical Personality: Dickie Valentine
  • Most Promising New Band: Ronnie Scott
  • Vocal Group: Stargazers
  • Male Dance Band Vocalist: Robbie Britton
  • Outstanding Popular Singer In The World: Frank Sinatra

The correct date for this one is harder to judge, but Eddie Calvert had three hits in 1956 and only one the following year, so I believe this is the 1956 poll, for which the party would have been in early 1957.

1957

Held at the Royal Albert Hall, presented by Tony Wright and Roger Moore.

  • Favourite American Female Singer: Doris Day
  • World’s Outstanding Popular Singer: Pat Boone
  • Favourite American Male Singer: Pat Boone
  • Favourite British Female Singer: Alma Cogan
  • World’s Outstanding Vocal Group: The Platters
  • British Large Bands: Ted Heath
  • Favourite British Male Singer: Dickie Valentine
  • British Musical Personality: Tommy Steele
  • World’s Outstanding Musical Personality: Elvis Presley
  • British Vocal Groups: King Brothers
  • British Disc Jockey: Jack Jackson
  • Small Groups (Skiffle): Lonnie Donegan
  • Small Groups (Traditional) : Chris Barber
  • Small Groups (Modern Jazz): Tony Kinsey

Connie Francis‘s commercial peak was in 1957, and that was Cliff Richard‘s first year of hits, so this is the 1957 poll, for which the party would have been in early 1958.

1958

Held at the Royal Albert Hall, presented by Pete Murray.

  • Favourite US Female Singer: Connie Francis
  • World’s Outstanding Popular Singer: Elvis Presley
  • Favourite US Male Singer: Elvis Presley
  • World’s Outstanding Vocal Group: Everly Brothers
  • World’s Outstanding Musical Personality: Elvis Presley
  • Outstanding Vocal Personality: Frankie Vaughan
  • Favourite Male Singer: Frankie Vaughan
  • Small Group: Lonnie Donegan
  • Favourite Female Singer: Alma Cogan
  • Vocal Group: Mudlarks
  • Outstanding Instrumental Personality: Eddie Calvert
  • Large Band: Ted Heath
  • Favourite New Singer (Under 21): Cliff Richard
  • Favourite Disc Jockey: Pete Murray

Connie Francis‘s commercial peak was in 1958, and that was Cliff Richard‘s first year of hits, so this is the 1958 poll, for which the party would have been in early 1959.

1959

Held at Wembley’s Empire Bowl.

  • World’s Outstanding Male Singer: Elvis Presley
  • World’s Outstanding Female Singer: Connie Francis
  • World’s Outstanding Musical Personality: Elvis Presley
  • World’s Outstanding Vocal Group: Everly Brothers
  • Favourite British Male Singer: Cliff Richard
  • Favourite British Female Singer: Shirley Bassey
  • Favourite British Vocal Group: The Mudlarks
  • Favourite British Vocal Personality: Frankie Vaughan
  • Favourite British Instrumentalist: Russ Conway
  • Favourite British Large Band or Orchestra: Ted Heath
  • Favourite British Small Group: Lonnie Donegan
  • Favourite British Disc Jockey: Pete Murray
  • Favourite British New Disc or TV singer: Craig Douglas
  • Favourite British Disc of Year: Cliff Richard, for Living Doll
  • Favourite British Artist for Poll Concert: Marty Wilde

Living Doll was first released in July 1959, so this is the 1959 poll, for which the party would have been in early 1960.

See also