Smash Hits has a very special place in the hearts of Britain’s popular culture circulatory system. The magazine, which ran from 1978 to 2006, was a bastion of eternal irreverence and not only followed the major stars of the moment but deliberately poked fun at them.
The publication, originally started as a teen pop music magazine aimed primarily at girls and young adults, began to find a niche with the smirking adolescents of Britain’s subculture and flourished in that circle. Issued originally as a monthly publication, editors were soon forced to change their output to a fortnightly release in order to keep up with demand.
Smash Hits made its name by featuring songwords of latest hits and interviews with all the biggest stars in music. The style of the magazine was deliberately irreverent, keeping candy-coated and equally as intellectually nutritional. Its interviewing technique was incredibly novel at the time often making fun of the biggest stars and artists. Preferring to ask non-sensical or downright silly questions over the muso-intellectualism which was surrounding the music press of the day.
The mag was originally titled Disco Fever and was created by journalist Nick Logan, and was based on a magazine that his sister used to buy, but which was of poor quality. His idea being to launch a glossy-looking magazine which also contained lyrics as one of its focal points. But this focus soon changed and soon the plethora of journalists the magazine worked with began to make names for themselves.
Radio Times editor Mark Frith is one of the more notable Smash Hits alumni. But other well-known writers have included Dave Rimmer, Ian Birch, Mark Ellen (who went on to launch Q, Mojo and Word), Steve Beebee, Peter Martin, Chris Heath, Sylvia Patterson, Alex Kadis, Sian Pattenden, Tom Hibbert, and Miranda Sawyer. Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys also worked as a writer and assistant editor.
In the 1990s, amid competition from the BBC’s spin off mag from the TV series Top of the Pops, a shift in focus towards celebrity rather than music occurred and Smash Hits began to slump. As circulation dwindled, the magazine decided to close its doors, announcing that the February 13 edition due to declining sales. The digital music video channel, digital radio, and website services still continue.
Luckily, one of the more brilliant features of Smash Hits, their startling, starstruck and shining covers remain with us today. Incredible stars like Siouxsie Sioux, Joe Strummer, The Buzzcocks, Debbie Harry, Human League, The Police, Elvis Costello and so many more.
The covers below offer a peek into the pop stardom of the years, a nostalgic and regal trip back in time to see the faces of the musical monarchy plastered across the glossy magazines – reaching their dreams and cementing themselves in pop culture history.
Take a look back at some of these iconic covers below:
Source: All images from Vintag.es