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UK charts 1956-1969 in the national press

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  • UK charts 1956-1969 in the national press

    Following recent discussion in the MM/NME chart archives thread, this will be a newspaper-by-newspaper guide to how charts from the music magazines were used in the UK national press between 1956 and 1969.

    Daily papers will be covered first, broadly in circulation order, then on to the Sundays.

    Most importantly, this will include the date ranges when particular charts were used by the newspaper, and notes on whether this chart was:

    (a) exactly as published in the corresponding magazine.

    (b) a “provisional” chart, typically released to the press on Mondays, with some variances from the corresponding magazine, usually in the lower places. A perfect example of a Monday chart release came on November 16th 1964 when we saw the first newspaper coverage of “Little Red Rooster” as NME No 1, prompting one of the great chart controversies of all time.

    (c) an updated “Stop Press” weekend chart. Most significantly, from December 1964, the Sunday Mirror had a specially-compiled NME chart that reportedly incorporated sales up to and including the previous day. Previously, the Sunday Mirror ran a special weekend chart prepared by Melody Maker.

    To keep the project manageable, I don’t intend to tabulate every chart position for every record where variances from the magazine occur, but will highlight any major anomalies that come to light.

    I expect the project will take some months to complete, and it’s only when all the main newspapers are logged that we can accurately tabulate the relative strength of the various charts in the mainstream press at any given point. It’s sure to be an NME win in the fifties, and Melody Maker for much of the sixties, but this data should give us really clear numbers for any point in time.

    Much of this information hasn’t been fully chronicled before, so I hope it proves useful, and cast new light on the exact date on which, for millions of newspaper readers, a new No 1 was announced.

    I'll kick things off shortly with the Daily Mirror, the best-selling daily paper in the UK throughout the period.

  • #2
    Could this be extended to cover at least the London evening papers too?


    • #3

      DAILY MIRROR 1956 - 1969

      Charts used by the newspaper:

      NME May 17 1956 - May 11 1961 (charts typically published Thursdays)

      Melody Maker May 20 1961 - 1982 (charts typically published Thursdays until May 1964; from May 1964, charts typically first published Tuesdays)

      From the start of the rock 'n' roll era and right through the sixties, the Daily Mirror stood supreme as Britain’s top-selling daily newspaper, with a circulation rising to more than five million.

      The paper could boast lively coverage of the pop scene, led by well-informed writers like Don Short and Patrick Doncaster.

      1956 May 17 Mirror masthead.jpg

      1956 May 17 Daily Mirror.jpg

      Daily Mirror Thursday, May 17 1956

      On May 17 1956 it became one of the first national papers (though not THE first; watch this space) to introduce a weekly Top 20, initially from New Musical Express, typically appearing on Thursdays at the same time as the magazine was hitting the newsstands. There were no differences between the newspaper and magazine versions of the charts.

      The relationship continued for exactly five years, but in May 1961, the Mirror switched to a Top 20 from Melody Maker. It was clearly a commercial decision - the Mirror group had bought Odhams, publisher of Melody Maker, earlier in the year.

      1961 May 20 Daily Mirror.jpg

      Daily Mirror Saturday May 20 1961 - the first two MM charts in the Mirror were in the Saturday edition. The chart reverted to the Thursday paper on June 1, 1961

      From, Thursday April 12 1962, the chart published in the Mirror extended to a Top 30.

      From May 1964, the Daily Mirror was unveiling the new Melody Maker Top 10 on Tuesday mornings, with the full Top 30 running on Thursdays.

      By September 1964, the full Top 30 was routinely appearing on Tuesdays, fresh from being compiled by Melody Maker the previous day.

      These arrangements remained in place for the rest of the decade, and the newspaper chart always matched what appeared in the magazine. Through the sixties, there was regular coverage of the arguments over whether Melody Maker or NME had the most accurate chart.

      1964 Nov 17 Daily Mirror.jpg

      Daily Mirror, Tuesday, November 17, 1964. The paper reports that the NME Top 10 shows “Little Red Rooster at No 1

      1967 Feb 28 Daily Mirror MM.jpg

      Daily Mirror, Tuesday, February 28, 1967 - one of the few places you’d see Penny Lane / Strawberry Fields Forever listed at No 1

      The Daily Mirror stayed with Melody Maker until the end of 1982, when the paper started using Music Week / BBC / Gallup.

      Coming next, probably about a week from now, the Daily Express, second only to the Daily Mirror in circulation during this period.

      Please do share any feedback, clarifications etc.


      • #4
        And yes, very happy to add the London Evening Standard and Evening News, along with a summary of the major provincials, though I'll leave all this until after the dailies and Sundays are covered. For some, I have most of the research already done, for others, I'll be more or less starting from scratch, so I don't expect to complete it all for a few months.


        • #5
          I wonder if the Daily Mirror started to publish the Top 20 because the other paper you'll mention had started publishing a chart?


          • #6
            Exactly right... slight spoiler alert, and I haven't completed the research yet but the Daily Herald, which competed direct for readers with the Daily Mirror, started a Melody Maker Top 10 slightly earlier...


            • #7
              I wonder if there was a connection between moving the date forward in May 1964 and the arrival in January 1964 of 'Top Of The Pops' on Wednesday nights.

              Re 'Little Red Rooster', MM's "we must emphasise sold" is clearly implying that NME included advance orders - something I have never seen NME admit/claim nor deny.


              • #8
                Do you have the Daily Mirror's report of (I guess) 9-Jan-64 when The Dave Clarke Five toppled The Beatles from number one? I think it was front page, but may be mis-remembering.


                • #9
                  Here you go, and what a memory! Sorry it's scrappy - it actually ran across the centre pages and a little has been lost in the scans of the newspaper. Anyway, the gist it all there. This was actually Wednesday, January 8th. The actual chart didn't appear until the Thursday as usual. Notable that on this occasion there was nothing said about disparity with the NME. As far as the Daily Mirror was concerned, DC5 were THE No 1. Let's hear it for the Tottenham Sound... DC5.jpg


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by dalanj View Post
                    Exactly right... slight spoiler alert, and I haven't completed the research yet but the Daily Herald, which competed direct for readers with the Daily Mirror, started a Melody Maker Top 10 slightly earlier...
                    May 3, 1956 Is the earliest I have, which is two weeks before.


                    • #11
                      Fascinating thread dalanj, thanks for doing this !! More pieces of the chart history puzzle, ha. As a yank living in England 1965-68, me aged 9-12, I remember reading the Daily Mirror, but I have no memory of seeing the pop charts in it. I was a loyal watcher of Top of the Pops every week though !!


                      • #12
                        Thanks for the positive feedback. By the end of the project, it should give us a useful reference for this part of the charts story.

                        Re the Herald … Yes, that’s the earliest I’ve seen in that newspaper too. I’m planning to do a combined history for the Herald and the Sun in the coming weeks. After buying the Herald among other titles in 1961, they closed it down in 1964 and relaunched in as the Sun in its earliest pre-Murdoch incarnation.


                        • #13
                          * Should have made clear it was Daily Mirror owner IPC that bought the Herald and later turned it into the Sun.


                          • #14
                            The Daily Herald had 'The Spinning Disc' column by Max Jones, who also wrote for Melody Maker. Jones had the earliest UK newspaper article I can find on 'Heartbreak Hotel', 8.3.56

                            'Heartbreak Hotel' appears in the Birmingham Top 10 on 10.5.56 ('Birmingham Mail') at No. 7, one place above 'Blue Suede Shoes' by Carl Perkins. It doesn't make the Daily Herald Top 10 until May 31 (which is the Melody Maker June 2nd chart; that chart also has a joint No. 9, see

                            Last edited by Satchmo76; Sun February 26, 2023, 17:22.


                            • #15
                              Great find! Who knew the Birmingham Mail had a Top 10 before the Daily Mirror. Things were certainly moving fast in May 1956.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by dalanj View Post
                                it actually ran across the centre pages
                                A travesty - clearly the most important news story of the week!!

                                The date is interesting. Did MM tell the Mirror, or even put out a general Press Release, announcing the new number one before revealing the rest of the chart? Or did the Mirror have to delay publication of the chart until after MM hit the streets?
                                Last edited by Splodj; Mon February 27, 2023, 10:35.


                                • #17
                                  Looks like the new MM chart WAS released to the press for news reporting purposes ahead of publication in the magazine. The archive is a bit sketchy on this particular week, but one week earlier, on Wednesday Jan 1st, 1964, the Liverpool Echo reported extracts (ie key positions) of the MM chart that appeared in the magazine dated Jan 4th. And the Daily Express had a short news item on Wednesday, Jan 8th, reporting the DC5 at No 1 in MM and the Beatles at No 1 in NME. I'm sure that while only licensed users - eg the Daily Mirror in this case - could print the full MM chart on an agreed day (Thursday in this case), the other papers were given an advance copy from which a reasonable amount of key information could be incorporated into a news report.


                                  • #18
                                    There's a longer piece in the Evening Standard, 8.1.64:


                                    • #19
                                      Thanks for the feedback and likes after Part One... here goes with the second:

                                      PART 2 - THE DAILY EXPRESS

                                      Charts used:

                                      NME March 1 1956 - May 1961 (charts typically published Thursdays, but sometimes Tuesdays or Wednesdays and by 1961, Fridays)
                                      NME November 2 1962 - October 1978 (initially Fridays; from mid-1965, an UPDATED chart, typically Tuesdays)

                                      The mid-market Daily Express was second only to the Daily Mirror in daily sales between 1956 and 1969, selling more than four million copies at its peak in the late fifties and early sixties. Long before its later decline and eclipse by the Daily Mail, the Express was hugely popular and influential.

                                      And to its roll of honour, we can add - subject to any surprise finds later in this project - its status as the first UK national paper to feature a regular singles chart.

                                      Its debut came on March 1, 1956, with the NME Top Ten, initially part of a jaunty new pop column credited to show band leader Cyril Stapleton.

                                      1956 masthead.jpeg

                                      Daily Express Mar 1 1956.jpeg

                                      Daily Express, March 1 1956

                                      The chart mirrored what was published in the corresponding edition of NME, and remained a Top Ten for the next five years, apart from a short spell in 1958 as a “First Eleven”, along with a “Twelfth Man” - surely one of the most unusual presentations of a hit parade in chart history.

                                      Express June 26 1958.jpeg

                                      Daily Express, June 26, 1958

                                      As some of the excitement drained away from the pre-Beatles pop scene, the Express appears to have lost interest in the chart for 18 months, as it failed to appear after May 1961.

                                      With what would later turn out to be exquisite timing, the chart - again from NME, now a Top 20 - returned in November 1962, as part of the “Go! Go! Go!” Page, just in time for the most exciting period in British pop music.

                                      NME Fri Nov 2 1962.jpeg

                                      Daily Express, November 2, 1962

                                      Not that the paper wasn’t prepared to take a critical look at how the charts were compiled, with this trenchant piece from early the following year. It confirms some details about how both the NME and Melody Maker charts were compiled.

                                      Express Feb 2 1963.jpeg

                                      Daily Express, February 2, 1963

                                      The NME chart published in the Daily Express extended to a Top 30 around November 1963, still appearing mainly on Fridays, and still exactly mirroring the chart published in the corresponding NME.

                                      In May 1965, the pattern of chart publication in the Daily Express became more complicated, and on occasions it gave readers a provisional NME chart on Tuesday morning - sometimes a full Top 30 - with the final chart used by the magazine featured in a Top 10 on Thursdays.

                                      It illustrates a remarkable facet of the NME charts for several years from 1965, when the magazine started routinely producing three separate versions each week: a “stop press” chart for the Sunday Mirror, a “provisional” chart issued to the press on Mondays and used by the Daily Express on Tuesdays, and the final chart, published in the magazine closer to the end of the week.

                                      See supplementary post for a fuller look at how the changing chart unfolded.

                                      From the start of 1966, the Daily Express settled on a Tuesday chart, initially as a Top 20, but usually a Top Ten from 1967.

                                      What is striking, however, is that right through to 1969, the NME continued to compile three charts a week - update for the Sunday Mirror, provisional (although it was not always described as such) for the Daily Express on Tuesdays, and the final chart for the magazine itself. The differences between the three charts were usually very marginal, with the more significant movements, and changes to the Number One, usually happening in the Sunday update. Differences between the Tuesday Daily Express chart and the Thursday NME magazine chart were more marginal, usually just some one-place differentials in the lower places.

                                      The Daily Express continued to publish an NME chart through to October 1978, when it switched to Music Week.

                                      For more than 20 years, readers of the Daily Express had the NME as their primary chart source, and the newspaper’s vision in starting to run a weekly chart in March 1956 undoubtedly encouraged others to follow suit.

                                      Next time - the Daily Mail.

                                      As ever, any comments, queries or clarifications are welcome. Thanks for reading - few of these histories will be quite this long, but it felt worthwhile going into some detail about the NME variants.


                                      • #20
                                        A little more detail on the changing charts produced by the NME each week from 1965, with this example.

                                        in one eight-day period in the summer of 1965, we had this run of charts:

                                        NME June 25 1965.jpeg

                                        NME June 25 1965

                                        Sunday Mirror June 27 1965.jpeg

                                        Sunday Mirror June 27 1965

                                        June 29 1965.jpeg

                                        Daily Express June 29 1965 - This chart is different to the Top 30 in the preceding and following issues of the NME.

                                        July 1 1965.jpeg
                                        Daily Express Thursday July 1 1965 - this is the same chart that appeared in the NME published the same day and dated July 2

                                        NME July 2 1965.jpeg

                                        NME July 2 1965

                                        So, as an example, Manfred Mann’s EP had no fewer than three different chart NME chart positions in a week.

                                        Rising from Number 10 in the previous week’s finalised NME chart, it reached 5 in the Sunday Mirror update, 7 in the “provisional chart” issued on Monday, and 6 in finalised chart published on Thursday. So, a higher peak of No 5 on the Sunday than any recorded in the NME magazine itself.


                                        • #21
                                          I took the strapline 'and still the first today' to be a boast of the fact that they were usually ahead of the other charts, and this attribute did earn them some kudos among the chart watchers I knew.

                                          In the mid-60s I used to see the NME chart every Tuesday in the Daily Sketch. It must have been on 6th April 1965 that I saw (if I remember. correctly) For Your Love as outright number one. Then on Top Of The Pops was surprised to see it as lowly as number 4 with Concrete And Clay at the top. And purchasing NME itself I found For Your Love was now joint number one with The Minute You're Gone. Another of those weeks that could fill a thread!

                                          Another thought ... In 1963-5 an NME chart appeared in Billboard magazine. Was that yet another version?


                                          • #22
                                            Did anyone read the "What Puts a Pop Record on the Gold Rush Today" column? There is a surprising paragraph in it that suggests the writer either may not fully understand the process or the NME have added a redundant step to the process... "He (the accountant) then adds up the points, divides by the number of retailers to produce an average for each record. He then compiles the chart from this." When I first read this I thought they meant the number of retailers the disc was on, but that would be ridiculous. Instead I think they must mean the total number of retailers used, but this is still a redundant step. The only logical reason would be to give a value between 0 and 12. However if that's the case, it greatly increases the chances of making a mistake as you'd potentially be dealing with long decimal places to distinguish position, though I guess that is not a problem if automated... Also weird that its a top 12....

                                            So in February 1963 (or whenever the NME/MM were interviewed about the piece) the NME used 70 random stores while MM used 150 or so from a pool of 245. I wonder what they mean when he says "They place the Top 40 records in order". Did MM compile a top 40 at this time? Interesting reading...
                                            Last edited by braindeadpj; Wed May 17, 2023, 21:24.


                                            • #23
                                              I agree dividing would be a redundant step. Perhaps NME told him they were taking an average and the reporter thought that an average required dividing, as it does in the narrow 'arithmetic mean' definition.

                                              But the thing that surprised me most was the claim that they send in their lists to NME, whereas NME elicited them by phone. The phone method may explain why they restrict the list to 12, which would give unreliable results at the lower end, and may in turn be the real reason they never did more than a Top 30. MM definitely sent their dealers Top 40 forms, you can see them on the 1964 'World In Action' I linked to on the UAC thread.

                                              I would take NME dealer numbers with a pinch of salt. They were always coy about how big their sample was. I bet 170 was their pool and the sample considerably less.


                                              • #24
                                                Just to add ... In the article above about 'Little Red Rooster' it is reported that NME surveyed 70 stores.


                                                • #25
                                                  Totally agree about the numbers actually surveyed each week. Maureen Cleave, who knew the music scene really well, had a bit more detail in her Evening Standard piece on the same story in Nov 64. I think the numbers quoted here are as reliable as we’re likely to find for the mid-sixties.