From 3-night boozy benders to throwing TVs out of windows – the end of Q Magazine is the end of Rock n Roll
I SUPPOSE that sadly, it was only a matter of time.
For the reason that my kids aren’t interested in quite the same things I was, magazines – like nightclubs and restaurants – tend to be generational.
But Q had a unique sense of authority to it.
The first issue back in October 1986 featured Paul McCartney on the cover and the fact it was able to attract the world’s biggest stars straight out of the box immediately gave it a huge readership.
So it could attract the best journalists as well as the biggest stars.
A list of Q staff writers over the years would include some of the very cleverest, funniest people I’ve ever met.
It was a magazine that seemed to positively encourage bad behaviour
The photographers and editorial staff were all at the top of their game, too
Everything about it was quality.
Even to be mentioned in the magazine, to be on their radar gave artists credibility because Q’s niche was very much rock royalty.
And there was no hiding from them once you were in the spotlight.
But for all that it wasn’t po-faced.
In fact, it was a magazine that seemed to positively encourage bad behaviour.
I kept getting asked by their journalists whether I’d ever thrown a television out of a window and I could tell they were disappointed that I hadn’t, so on my thirtieth birthday I did.
I once took Danny Ecclestone, a features writer who later became editor, to a top rocket science laboratory in Cambridge where we all got very drunk.
Nothing was off limits for discussion
The next time I met him was in the Moroccan desert where we built a studio in a disused castle and were making a record with Fatboy Slim.
Journalists often spent days, even weeks on tour and in the studio with bands so they got incredible insights into what made them tick.
Nothing was off limits for discussion.
Being interviewed seemed to serve as a kind of therapy for globally famous pop stars, most of whom were remarkably frank about their drug use, relationships and struggles.
The annual awards ceremony was about the greatest day out imaginable – sort of like The Brits but with no cameras.
Anyone and everyone was there for a boozy lunch that went on for about three days.
I think it was in 1998 that my hair caught fire in the toilets.
I think it was possibly because of that incident, that Q gave me my first paid job as a writer.
I wrote a monthly column for them about drinking and they never changed a word.
I also worked for them later on as an interviewer and got to meet some of my favourite people.
‘Do you want to interview Robin Gibb from The Bee Gees?’, the email ran.
‘Not the lion, and not the bald, dead one: the other, one’
I spent an incredible afternoon with Robin in his home and because it was for Q magazine he absolutely poured his heart out.
He told me exactly how they’d made the drum loop for Stayin Alive and how when they played it to the record company executive he’d shaken his head and said he wasn’t sure if it was a single and could they change the words in the chorus from 'Stayin alive' to 'Saturday night'…
On the other hand, Mark Ellen, one of the two ex-Smash Hits writers who launched the magazine, has written some of the bitchiest things about me I’ve ever read.
Q magazine gaveth and Q magazine taketh away
But that was always part of the deal, I guess.
Q magazine gaveth and Q magazine taketh away.
I guess we loved and feared it in equal measure, as you would a wife or a really good boss.
All publishing is struggling in the face of the internet – you can follow your favourite stars on social media now, but more often than not it’s not actually them, it’s someone from management telling you what they want you to hear – there’s no scrutiny.
We love music, probably more than ever now that we all have free access to just about every song ever recorded, but we’re not buying music magazines any more.
The situation has been exacerbated (and I choose that word pointedly because it was Danny Ecclestone from Q who I first heard say it and I had to ask him what it meant, it means made worse), seriously exacerbated by Covid because live music is on pause and bands aren’t getting signed and records aren’t getting released and no one is throwing televisions out of windows any more so there are no stories and no reviews to read.
The really sad thing is the whole infrastructure of a glorious music business, where anybody could write a simple song that resonated and be transported to, albeit usually brief, global stardom is disappearing one thing at a time.
There’s probably not enough new music to fill a monthly magazine right now so Q has finally gone the way of Look In, Smash Hits, NME, Sounds, Melody Maker, Record Mirror, Select and Vox.
RIP Q, RIP rock and roll
It was the very last music magazine.
They are now officially extinct.
RIP Q, RIP rock and roll.
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