Who Remembers: Smash Hits!

Wow wow wow!  I can only smile when I think about this magazine.  It played such a huge part in my life – my magazine obsession started with this very publication.  My interest in the music and media industry was definitely ignited by my love for the magazine.

The first issue of Smash Hits was published in September 1978 as a monthy mag, but due to its immediate popularity it became fortnightly.  I would only have been nine months old when it first came out, so I didn’t start reading it until about 1987, or thereabouts.  I was definitely in primary school – that much I know.  At the time it was just 50 pence, and this is going to sound crazy, but because of Smash Hits, 50p became my favourite coin!  Every time I received a 50p coin in my pocket money or as part of change from the shop, I would keep it (even if it was my parents’ money) knowing full well I’d be ready for the next issue.  Then it increased to 52p, 55p, 60p, and by the time I had stopped collecting it, the price was 75p.  Which worthwhile music mag could you buy now for that price??

The first ever issue of Smash Hits, September 1978

One of the best things about the magazine was the fact that they printed the lyrics to the popular songs in the charts.  My most anticipated issue was the one that featured the lyrics to “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice.  My copy became so tatty, because I took it everywhere with me and revised it as though I was about to take an exam – saddo!  I also loved the language they used to speak to readers, and questions posed to interviewees weren’t your usual standard, run-of-the-mill questions, but were always rather quirky.  I also liked the way they slyly took the piss out of the artists and celebs.  For example the members of the boyband Bros were called Matt, Luke and Craig, but Smash Hits referred to them as Matt, Luke and Ken, because poor Craig was the one no one knew or fancied!  AND – every issue contained pull-out posters of your fave stars!  (If you only knew how many New Kids on the Block posters I managed to collect).  Smash Hits was a must for music lovers in the UK at the time. 

If you were a fan of this mag you would know that the two most highly anticipated occasions in the year were The Smash Hits Yearbook, which was a look back at the features through the year, as well as new special end of year interviews, etc, and the fantastic Smash Hits Poll Winners Party.  Maaaan did I love that show!  It was shown on BBC1, usually hosted by Philip Schofield, and was an award show where the winners were voted for by the readers.  They would have the usual categories – Best Male Singer, Best Group etc, but also alternative categories, such as Most Very Horrible Thing, and Most Fanciable Female.  All the most popular would feature, and I always looked forward to seeing New Kids on the Block, because I loved them so…

Madonna with her Smash Hits Poll Winners award in 1991

The last issue of Smash Hits was published on 13 February 2006 as sales had declined and teenagers were turning to that bittersweet medium we know as the internet for their music and entertainment fix.  I don’t actually remember when I stopped collecting the mag, but I do know that by the time we had moved out of my childhood home I had accumulated boxes upon boxes of of issues, and it was VERY hard for me to let go.  The Smash Hits brand still continues in the form of the music channel, digital radio station and website, but none of those will ever top its 80s/90s heyday for me.

The last ever issue of Smash Hits, Feb 2006

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2 comments on “Who Remembers: Smash Hits!

  1. Wowzers! Yes I do. I used to read it as well, although it never had enough about Michael Jackson in it. It was more concerned about Scott & Charlene, Home & Away, Bros, anything Stock, Aitken & Watermen etc etc

    I love your 50p memory, its those little things that make stories beautiful.

    I remember girls in my classes used to huddle up in a corner over Just Seventeen, Mizz and More magazine as well. Those were the days

    I had no idea it continued up to as recently as 2006, I thought it folded the day I stopped reading it in like 88/89

  2. Well you know I read it seeing as we’d all pass them round form room! I distinctively remember that Betty Boo issue AND learning the words to Ice Ice baby in one night because I was deeply infatuated with Mr Van Winkle….
    Dem were the days.

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