Web Page No 2356
25th March 2017
THE NEW BOOK
Second Picture: Petticoat
Third Picture: Jackie
1960s Pop Magazines
It's February 1963. The Beatles are No 2 in the charts with Please Please Me and it's time to meet the press. An anonymous reporter from Boyfriend goes to interview them for "an exclusive scoop" and her impressions are revealing: "their sound, although novel, isn't exactly a revolution. But there's something about it, a strange compelling something. They are almost frightening-looking young men," she continues, "even more modern than modern. The funny thing is that when they smile - not often - they look perfectly wholesome and nice. But the rest of the time they look wicked and dreadful and evil, in an 18th-century sort of way. You almost expect them to chant magic spells." Tthe Boyfriend article ("Pop A La Mod") was one of the first in-depth articles about the group. It was well-written, informative and makes it clear how weird they were when they first arrived.
As a magazine aimed at young women, with colour pin-ups, ads for cosmetics and hair lacquer, and plentiful picture stories Boyfriend picked up on the hysteria surrounding the Beatles and invested heavily in the British pop boom that they helped to create. In the summer the magazine produced "Big New Beat", the first of several supplements "about the Northern Raves". The Beatles were on the cover, standing amid the rubble of Euston Road. Inside were group shots and close-ups with large type comments: "They have a knack of looking as if they'd just landed on this planet. They're otherworldly, that's what they are."
The photographs were taken by Fiona Adams, a Boyfriend regular: one of her shots was used for the front cover of the Beatles' Twist and Shout EP, which, sold so many that it made No 4 in the singles charts.
A show at the National Gallery, Beatles to Bowie: the 60s Exposed, contained Fiona Adams's contact sheets along with dozens of other photographs that have not been seen since their first publication in the music and young women's magazines of the 60s.
Between 1963 and early 1967, Britain had a vigorous pop and teen press, with at least a dozen weeklies and/or monthlies all bringing their readers the latest news, gossip and interviews about the Beatles, the Stones, the Searchers, Cilla and Dusty, right through to the Walker Brothers and the Small Faces. Selling between 70,000 copies (Record Mirror) up to 200,000 (Fabulous, the New Musical Express) a week, their total circulations combined to several hundred thousand.
By the early 1960s, there were already several weeklies catering to the teenage female market Marilyn, Mirabelle, Romeo, Roxy, and Valentine. Boyfriend was launched in 1959, with Marty - based on the popularity of Marty Wilde - following in 1960. The newer titles were pop-heavy and had "love scene" picture stories and problem pages. The star staples were Elvis, Cliff Richard, Adam Faith, John Leyton and Eden Kane.
Two important new weeklies were launched in January 1964. Jackie ("for go-ahead teens") published as a girls' "comic", a streamlined version of Boyfriend with all the same elements but with larger pages and candid shots of the stars.
Fabulous was a new tabloid pop paper that predicated "Merseymania", it contained at least one pin-up of the Beatles in every issue for two years. Selling for one shilling, Fabulous was pricier than the competition but it had more pages and better paper. It also introduced a more direct rapport between the stars and their audience. Features showing stars in their own homes were interspersed with old school photos.
After the Beatles cracked America, British pop culture entered a new phase: Britain became Pop Island and the capital a youth mecca and Fabulous published its "Shaking London Town" issue, with a spread about the best TV programme of the day, Ready Steady Go!, as well as a "POP guide to London", which featured hairdressing salons, recording studios, clubs, mod shops, and the Fabulous offices themselves.
At 2s 6d, Rave was five times as expensive as the weekly music papers, but you got an 80-page A4-size monthly, with excellent quality paper. Rave went further and deeper with articles about Stuart Sutcliffe, the lost Beatle, a fashion round table and notices about up-and-coming groups such as the Yardbirds. Like Fabulous, Rave prominently featured young women writers. Cathy McGowan was a regular, along with Maureen O'Grady and Dawn James. However, if the ads for guitars were anything to go by, Rave also appealed to young men.
1966 was the year of change. Singles' sales dropped by 10m. The papers began to feature stories about star exhaustion and unavailability: the surliness of the Kinks, the Who and the Rolling Stones. A new generation of more cheerful groups appearedthe Troggs, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich and the Monkees.
But it was time for another change. During 1966, Fabulous became Fabulous 208; Boyfriend merged with the newly launched Petticoat, Marilyn with Valentine. Disc joined forces with Music Echo. There were new counter cultural magazines such as Oz and Rolling Stone and a revamped New Musical Express followed suit and as they say the rest is history.
Keep in touch
On this Day 25th March 1960-1965
On 25/03/1960 the number one single was Running Bear - Johnny Preston and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Wagon Train (ITV) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 25/03/1961 the number one single was Walk Right Back/Ebony Eyes - Everly Brothers and the number one album was GI Blues - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was No Hiding Place (AR) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 25/03/1962 the number one single was Rock-a-Hula Baby/Can't Help Falling In Love - Elvis Presley and the number one album was Blue Hawaii - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 25/03/1963 the number one single was Summer Holiday - Cliff Richard & the Shadows and the number one album was Summer Holiday - Cliff Richard & the Shadows. The top rated TV show was Conservative Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Alcatraz prison closes.
On 25/03/1964 the number one single was Little Children - Billy J Kramer and the number one album was With the Beatles - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Conservative Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
25/03/1965 the number one single was The Last Time - Rolling Stones and the number one album was Rolling Stones Number 2 - The Rolling Stones. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.