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A History of the Record Retailer (To the early 1970s)

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  • A History of the Record Retailer (To the early 1970s)

    As promised in my `Chart History` thread. Here is my file on the early years of the `Record Retailer`


    © Alan Smith.

    By 1959 the Music Industry; particularly it’s `popular` section which comprised of `Rock and Roll`, `Skiffle` and Romantic ballads; was indeed becoming a thriving business. To cater to the business side of the industry as opposed to its artistic endeavours, the “Record Retailer” trade magazine was conceived.

    This was at the behest of the “Gramophone Record Retailers Association” The “G.R.A.A”. At a meeting on Sunday 8th March 1959; representatives of “E.M.I,” “Decca”, “Melodisc,” “Oriole,” “Pye,” “Phillips”, “Vogue” and other record manufacturers agreed on co-ordination and regulation to keep a check on the state of their industry.

    The meetings were chaired by Reg Reed and Harry Tipple of the G.R.R.A. It was also agreed to co-finance by subscription (Other finance was via advertising space), a monthly magazine which could relay the `pulse` of the industry and be an open forum for views, ideas and opinions. The G.R.R.A from its headquarters at 163a Rye Lane, Peckham S.E 15,Contacted “Commercial Newspapers LTD”; who with help from member Julian Ormond formed a subsidiary holding company titled “Telltime LTD” to commence publication of the monthly “Record Retailer” magazine.

    As its name implies, the magazine was to cater more for the actual sellers of records; the shops rather than the record companies. This was because it was seen that there was a `demarcation` between the rights of individual shops who would sell records of all the major and lesser labels, and not premises set up by any one record company to sell exclusively their own label’s product. Indeed in the early days of the “Record Retailers” life many non members wrote to it with their fears that “Pye Records” were going to undertake such a move. “Pye” denied it and the matter died down. However that is how sensitive such matters were back then; later when “E.M.I” had their “H.M.V” shops one could get records from other labels on them.

    The subscription fee for “Record Retailer” was Two Guineas back in 1959 when it’s first monthly issue titled Vol 1; no 1 was born on 25th August 1959. One of its first staff members Mr Norman Charles Bates was able to give precise information concerning “Record Retailers” set up and staff in its early years. These were:

    Roy Parker – Managing Director and Editor.
    Ann Smith – Secretary to the Editor.
    John Morrell – News Editor.
    Robina Lowman – Features Editor
    Brian Harvey – Advertising Manager.
    Christine Searle –General Secretary.
    Jeremy Wilder- General staff’ and chart compiler.

    Julian Ormond was still the `sleeping partner` helping to provide part of the funding. The premises were at 29 Villiers Street, London W.C 2, an old `Dickensian` building; opposite Charing Cross Railway Terminal. “Record Retailer” occupied the three upper floors with just one room per floor, and fairly cramped. Roy Parker was ensconced on the first level of the Three, sharing with Secretary Anne Smith. The Middle floor held Editorial and Advertising staff. There were just three telephone lines, so no need for Switchboard or Receptionist. The top floor had a small room with a Gestetner Address printing machine and a separate toilet.

    The first issue of “Record Retailer” when produced on 25th August 1959 in A5 format, featured a G.R.R.A newsletter, adverts for such items as window displays, merchandising and musical equipment offers. Also displayed were comprehensive guides to all record releases in every format of 7inch (45rpm) , 10inch (78rpm) and 12 inch (33/3rpm) for the forthcoming month. Most interesting was an industry breakdown on production and sales levels of all aforementioned records from 1954 up to April 1959. This showed a marked decline in sales of the 78 rpm Ten inch hard shellac discs over the period 1956 to 1958. This however was balanced by a rise in the same period of the 45 rpm Seven inch single format. In total 1957 was something of a boom year. Finally a complete retail price display per label was given for all formats of records.

    The “Record Retailer” carried on in its monthly format, coming out on the 25th of each month until early 1960. By February 1960 it was clear that the speed at which events and news were breaking in the industry were moving too fast for a monthly production. So on 10th March 1960, a Thursday; a new larger dimension (Slightly bigger than A3), weekly “Record Retailer” commenced. One important addition to the new weekly paper was the addition of a `chart` service which was now possible due to the financial surplus from subscriptions.

    Charts were already in use by the popular music papers such as “New Musical Express” and “Record Mirror” so it wasn’t an innovatory move by “Record Retailer”; they were following the movement of replacing the old `Song Sheet` lists with charts logging the sales of vinyl and shellac discs. The main drawback for “Record Retailer” in publicising its chart service was general availability. Whereas the music papers were on sale to the general public, “Record Retailer” was obtainable only on subscription to its members. It was occasionally given out free to Record Labels and other record retailers for their possible interest in subscribing; but to the general public the only kind of regular access was via public libraries, where it could be asked to view on the premises.

    The singles chart of 10 March 1960 was also accompanied by a Top 20 E.P chart; and Two weeks later a Top 20 L.P chart. The singles chart itself was a Top 50; which at that time (10 March 1960) were 20 places larger than “New Musical Express’” Top 30 which had previously been the largest published chart listing. However, in spite of its published size; the “Record Retailer” Top 50 was certainly not based on the largest sample of shops. The paper in its early years had neither the financial or manpower resources than to attempt anything more ambitious than a rudimentary sample. Documents from Mr Paul Clifford of the “Official U.K Chart Company” and personal corroboration by Norman Charles Bates and Jeremy Wilder who worked at the paper in the early/mid 60’s shows that “Record Retailers” chart was compiled from 30 phone calls to record outlets made by Managing Editor Roy Parker and his Secretary Ann Smith.

    They did not call the same 30 stores each week, but time and resources only allowed for 30 phone calls. They did ask each store for an extensive list of its top 50 selling titles as opposed to a top 20 or 30 list preferred by the regular music papers. The one area “Record Retailers” list agreed with other charts was that it too was a `points` based chart; whereby no 1 titles on each list were given 50 points down to 1 point for 50th place. With only 30 sets of top 50’s to work with would have led to many `tied` positions; so to avoid this a `countback` system was devised so that the rate of increase or decrease from week to week points tally as a percentage was taken into account in order to separate chart positions. This system kept tied positions in the top 50 to a bare minimum. The only time a tie took place in the top 10 and no separation came into play was when The Seekers “Morningtown Ride” and Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman” were locked at joint no 2 on 14th January 1967.

    The compilation of the chart itself was undertaken by Staff Member Jeremy Wilder who would work with all shop returns through each Tuesday to assemble the top 50. When the returns rose to 75 to 85 in the postal returns system from January 1964, it would take him up to the early evening to have the chart ready for publication. Mr Wilder was the sole staff member who compiled Record Retailers chart.

    The “Record Retailer” chart struggled for general acceptance within the full spectrum of both the music industry, retail business and amongst the public for a few years. Those record stores that subscribed to the magazine did not always refer to its chart, mainly because customers would be far more familiar with the charts of “New Musical Express” and “Melody Maker”. The main problem for “Record Retailers” chart was it’s paucity of sample size; only having time and resources for contact to approximately 30 stores, meant that “Record Retailers” chart was subject to wild swings and fluctuations in it’s chart placements. Comparison with the music paper charts of the early Sixties showed these to be far less volatile because their larger samples lessened the effects of rogue movements.

    Partly because of this effect upon its chart, the “Record Retailer” arranged through its co-financer, Julian Ormond to undertake an audit to ascertain the validity of chart positions. The audit was carried out by the firm of Chantrey, Button and co. According to one of the staff carrying out this audit, Nigel Mundy, Chantrey-Button only carried this function for three years before another firm took over the audit. Attempts have been made to trace the later audit but sadly that is still unknown. Other charts were also audited, though not necessarily by an outside firm. “New Musical Express” for example had their staff member and qualified accountant Ted Hull audit “N.M.E’s” charts.

    The Record Retailer audit commenced on 5th January 1963 and the results were available for subscribers to see if they wished by writing in for a copy of the audit. On 14th February 1963 “Record Retailer” transferred its offices to 27 John Adam Street. The new premises were only around the corner from Villiers Street but were larger and somewhat more prestigious for the papers expanding activities.

    The members of staff over the next two years were:

    Roy Parker – Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief.
    Ann Smith – Secretary to Editor-in-Chief.
    Frank Smyth – Editor.
    Peter Cresswell – News Editor and Assistant to the Managing Director.
    Michael Clare – Sub-Editor (And later Production Editor).
    Maurice Baruch – Sub-Editor.
    Robbie Lowman – Features and Music Publishing News.
    Roy Lister – Advertising Manager.
    Norman Bates – Deputy Advertising Manager.
    Christine Searle – Advertising Secretary.
    Jeremy Wilder – General Staff and Chart compiler.
    Also employed were a Mailing Clerk and for the new Switchboard a operator. Full names not recalled only Christian ones, Anne and Brenda.

    With a larger service now being offered by the paper to its subscribers and with healthier resources, the paper upgraded it’s method of chart compiling. Following the lead of “Record Mirror” and “Melody Maker”, “Record Retailer” switched to postal returns. Contact was made to E.M.I’s record distribution base and to Decca’s (Which was called “Selecta”) for a master list of 100 prime record shops, mostly based in London, Manchester and Liverpool.

    From this list a rotating core of 75 to 85 shops would post in their top 50 sellers to “Record Retailer” who would pay part of the postal costs. This new system commenced at the start of 1964. Unfortunately it was still a chart based on a different day of compilation to it’s competitors (Tuesday as opposed to Monday for all others) and the chart still suffered from unusually low first week entries e.g. no Beatles single ever entered at no 1 in the “Record Retailer” compiled listings.

    Sadly late 1964 saw the premature death of Mr Roy Parker. Aged only 45; he had endured a spell of ill health earlier in the year and was hospitalised. It was thought he was making something of a recovery, but sadly this turned out not to be, “Record Retailer” had lost one of its staunchest stalwarts. Temporarily taking up the reins and workload of Mr Parkers duties early in 1965 was Frank Smyth. After Frank Smyth’s brief tenure Don Wedge and Michael Clare took over as Editor and Production Editor.

    A very significant event took place in August 1966 when the American company “Billboard Publications” took over “Telltimes” holdings. The paper was still listed as a “Telltime” publication, but it was actually a “Billboard” owned Magazine. “Billboard” was owned by the Littleford family of New York. They bought “Telltime” from its owners, the Wilder family of Aston Rowant, Oxfordshire. Julian Orchard stayed on as accountant. As well as bringing in Don Wedge and Michael Clare “Billboard” also introduced Graeme Andrews to the paper in his capacity as news editor. Andrews had been deputy news editor at NME in 1963 and 1964. Another newcomer who had also worked at NME in an editorial capacity was Ian Dove, who came to “Record Retailer” as Ad manager.

    By 1968 the paper had moved to 7 Welbeck Street, London W1. From July 5th 1967 the publication day had changed from a Thursday to Wednesdays. This caused a few weeks disruption in their chart service, Michael Clare recalled that for about a month it was very difficult to get postal returns in on time, leading to as many hurried phone calls to dealers in an effort to augment the figures.

    Also in 1968 the papers own circulation was now audited, by A.B.C the major auditor of newspaper and entertainment magazines. The papers page count was now at 24 pages. This gave scope for quite extensive singles and album reviews. Advertisements for new record releases were superior to those in “NME”, “Disc” and “Record Mirror” and on a par with those in “Melody Maker” and “Top Pops”.

    The Record Retailer chart gained more credence and authority by the mid sixties. It became a part of the BBC’s calculations for both “Pick of the Pops” and “Top of the Pops” charts. At first this was on an irregular basis; as sometimes the Record Retailer chart would not be compiled in time for inclusion in the BBC calculations. It was from the start of 1966 when it was included regularly in the B.B.C’s calculations (Along with N.M.E, Melody Maker and Disc) for its “Pick Of/Top of the Pops” weighted average top Thirty/Twenty. From around 1965/6 the Record Retailer was able to boast its chart was one used by `The Industry`.

    Even so, by 1968 it was perceived that “Record Retailers” charts were not yet regarded as the major listing for the trade or the industry; particularly after the fiasco of the B.B.C chart which combined “Record Retailers”, “N.M.E’s” and “Melody Makers” charts; ending up with Three joint no 1 records on 31 August 1968. Confusion was reigning as to which chart was best. With this in mind “Record Retailer” made calls for a new national chart.

    Graeme Andrews and Julian Ormond, both from” Record Retailer; undertook the task of co-ordinating a series of meetings. These would be between people in the trade and industry who were concerned with the problem. Attending were members of the British Phonograph Institute. The B.B.C was represented by Derek Chinnery. Also contacted was the advertising conglomerate the “J.Walter Thompson Agency”, under whose auspices was the “British Market Research Bureau”. From “B.R.M.B” Mr Peter Meneer was delegated to liase at these meetings.

    Offers were also made to Maurice Kihn, the publisher of “New Musical Express” and Jack Hutton, the managing editor of “Melody Maker” to join in discussions of finance for a new chart. Both declined, as they felt happy enough with their own charts, and did not agree with the proposed scale of funding to set up a national chart.

    Despite this set back productive meetings led to the setting up of the first nationally recognised U.K pop chart based purely on sales figures, rather than a points system. This comprehensive system known as B.A.R.S (British Analysis of Record Sales) was costed at over £50.000 (Approximately £53.000) Involving the use of Diaries, a computer and contacts to over 500 stores for a master pool. Within this, a rotating core of 250 retailers would send in their completed diaries by post, which then would be fed into the computer at B.M.R.B’s offices to get a preliminary top 50.

    When this was done, 50 supplementary phone calls were made to the reserve list of dealers to check on sales trends. Once satisfied on the veracity of the figures, B.M.R.B would send the now completed chart to the B.B.C. The top 30 of the new national chart would be aired on Tuesday afternoons on Radio 1 at between 12.45 to 1.00 pm with the top 5 played in full. A more comprehensive airing was given each following Sunday between 6 and 7pm.

    The date of the first national chart was 13 February 1969 and listed in “Record Retailer” it was listed Two days later in “Record Mirror” and on the same date played on B.B.C Radio One. From August 1970 it was also carried in the new weekly paper for progressive music “Sounds”.

    Unfortunately, the new chart had its fair share of problems, not least in the fact it attracted consistent attempts at manipulating it. Because it was announced as the Industry chart and recognised by the B.B.C it sadly attracted constant attempts to get records into unfairly. The B.M.R.B also made the mistake of giving out too much detail of how it policed the chart and dealt with attempts at `hyping`. Giving such details in the authorised “Radio One Annual (1969)” and later “Top of the Pops” Annuals only served to make unscrupulous chart riggers aware they were under scrutiny, causing them to vary their methods. The B.M.R.B had a lot of trouble getting a high proportion of Diaries back from shops on time; and of them being compiled in a valid state for use in compiling the chart.

    The first few months of the new top 50 were riddled with tied positions, even as high as a joint no 4. This should have been a virtual impossibility if anywhere near the number of diaries were available. Sadly the B.M.R.B don’t hold a record of the proportion of early returns but the mathematics of so many tied positions suggest only 20-25% of valid returns in the first few months of the chart. The B.M.R.B had to revert to the old Record Retailer system of eliminating most tied positions while it strived to improve its percentage of returns. Also, due to the fact that neither “New Musical Express” nor “Melody Maker” came onboard the scheme the chart took a little longer to be acknowledged by every part of the industry. By the mid Seventies it was finally well accepted.

    In 1969, with “Billboard” now fully in charge of the paper, “Record Retailer” moved premises again; this time to extensive, well equipped offices at the then fashionable address at 7 Carnaby Street London WIV 1PG. It moved its printing from old letterpress in Salisbury to web offset at Peterborough, as well as changing to a full glossy format, like “Billboards” American titles. This Glossy “R.R” was printed at a custom built South Wales plant, set up and part owned by Julian Orchard. Graeme Andrews was made publisher and Brian Mulligan was promoted to Editor. Mulligan had previously worked for the “Phillips” Record Company and later, London Editor of Variety magazine. By 1970 Graeme Andrews and Julian Ormond had moved on from “Record Retailer”. They were replaced in 1971 by an American, Mort Nasatir; former head of MGM records. It was Mr Nasatir who changed the publications title to “Music Week”. “Music Week” went from strength to strength, becoming the industry’s leading trade paper. In 1976 “Billboard” sold the title to the conglomerate “United Business Media” So, from small beginnings, “Record Retailer/Music Week” had become the vital business title for the record industry.

    Thanks are due to Norman `Charles` Bates, Michael Clare, Norman Jopling, Peter Jones Peter Cox and Graeme Andrews for invaluable help given. © Alan Smith April 2006.

  • #2
    Great and very interesting. Well done

    Always thought that Record Retailer was displayed in most record shops in the 60's, but clearly it wasn't.
    So am now wondering if they displayed any other charts, such as NME's?
    I was too young to go round record stores in the sixties. However in the seventies Music Week's top 50 was placed on the wall somewhere. One shop, on the Moor in Sheffield, had it on the front door! The records were often laid out in that format inside the shop. Big shops such as Boots had the top 50 laid out.
    Education for anyone aged 12 to 16 has made a mess of the world!


    • #3
      Graham! Both NME and M.Maker charts were displayed in many record shops 1960s & 1970s. They made `special` charts for shops!

      I won a 1968 Melody Maker one on E.Bay but missed out on a 1969 NME chart (Pipped when I was away! oh dear!)

      I do assure you that for Artists, Managers and fans that the NME and MM charts were the ones that counted in those days!


      • #4
        I must add a correction! "Sounds" began running the BMRB chart in October 1970 `Not` August! Sorry about that!


        • #5
          In February 1970 Record Retailer had 1m sales and 100,000 sales symbols for LPs in their album chart.
          Do you know were the information for these sales figures came from?
          Was it the record company or a special Record Retailer award?
          This was before the official BPI certificate.

          and also,


          • #6
            Originally posted by asm
            I do assure you that for Artists, Managers and fans that the NME and MM charts were the ones that counted in those days!
            Having read a good few artists biographies, they always refer to those two charts, rather than the other. So I am quite aware of that. But thanks for clearing up if the shops used them.
            There was a plan to digitise the NME and put it online, like Billboard is on Google, but it as yet to see the light of day.
            Education for anyone aged 12 to 16 has made a mess of the world!


            • #7
              Originally posted by brian05
              In February 1970 Record Retailer had 1m sales and 100,000 sales symbols for LPs in their album chart.
              Do you know were the information for these sales figures came from?
              Was it the record company or a special Record Retailer award?
              This was before the official BPI certificate.

              and also,

              Brian, they were indicative and based on the reports of the time. Other than that they are of little actual use - a bit like the current BPI database! Lol.

              So, be aware of them but take 'em with a large pinch of salt too!



              • #8
                Those R.Retailer million seller affixes were not that accurate as they mainly used production figures from record company. One example is when Don Kirshner came to UK to receive gold disc for million UK sales of "Sugar Sugar" we now know those were production figures and not sales over the counter figures which were at about 981.000.

                Of course, "Sugar Sugar" has subsequently topped 1 million.

                With SGT Pepper that 1970 Million sales was again production figures and `Pepper` only went over UK million mid 1973 due to renewed interest when the 1962-66 and 1967-70 sets came out!

                I have some Record Retailer magazines and was able to supply `Guinness Hit Singles / Albums` with production figures 1950s and 1960s for one of their books. Record Retailer in pre BPI days always used production figures for sales statistics.


                • #9
                  This is yet another fascinating account from Allan of the nascent development of a national publication - and chart - that eventually became the premier source for news on the music industry. Thanks for taking the time to research, compile and publish it here.

                  It all just underlines yet further however how fragile the chart compilation process was in those early years. It all but rubbishes anyone's convenient assumption that either sales figures or chart positions cited from that era can be relied upon as anything approaching accurate and consistent, or that we can somehow look back at evidence from that time and re-assemble a more truthful picture of the market at that time.

                  Perhaps this wouldn't matter quite so much to us now, were it not for the fact that many of us consider the 1950s and '60s as a 'golden age' of popular music development, especially for the UK which was churning out so many talented, original and internationally-successful artists who still hold gravitas today. Considering that many older pop fans consider the heyday of both music and the charts to be the 1960s, it's something of a crying shame that very little of its actual detail can be relied upon in retrospect as a source of sound evidence of what was selling in what order and by how much. The inconvenient truth about citing chart positions from that period is that they are all as dubious as each other - while RR had its own problems, it must be remembered that NME, MM and Disc's methods were hardly free from compromise either. It certainly makes a mockery of the retrospective notions of the UK having had an 'official' chart for 6 decades, and that the RR version of reality was somehow so much more worthy than its counterparts as to justify it being viewed as the 'definitive' chart of record in subsequent years. It's statistical convenience too far.

                  Maybe we could more readily emphasise the NME's rankings as the leading contemporary source from 1960 to '69, as its circulation to the public was wider and its sample size far greater. But the drawbacks have always been that it only carried 30 positions and had a tedious rule of allowing pre-retail shipment figures to count towards chart positions.

                  To think how differently some parts of pop history might be recalled if data as accurate and consistent as that available today had been accessible then. It's hard to accept that we'll never know.


                  • #10
                    Thanks for your input Gambo! My criteria for the 1950s & 1960s charts is - if a Record made no 1 in one of the prime 50s/ 60s charts (Record Mirror, Record Retailer, NME, M.M and DISC) then it is No 1 in my book! This goes for all other chart placements.

                    I know it would be great for some if just one chart could count for that era - but I demure! I think one should go with the actuality of the time when there was no concept of an `official` chart; otherwise its re-writting history which is what Guinness hit singles did!

                    No sample in the 60s went more than 300 (M.Maker's was largest at about 250 - 280 circa 1967-69) out of about 6.000 retailers! Unlike today with computorised chart gathering data- methods back then were slow and time-consuming - plus! very expensive!

                    My brief is to reflect the truth of the way things actually were-if I can and i'm glad folks here have enjoyed my articles.


                    • #11
                      Yes I would also like to thank Alan for that insight.

                      On the charts back in the 60's being unlike now.
                      Even if they had the technology to gather the data and the money, I don't think the number of shops taking part would have been as big as what you would expect.
                      Firstly the retailers were often not keen on information being passed to other companies. So many would have refused to take part, as they were still doing even when Gallup took over.
                      Also the record companies would not have liked their sales figures given a public airing. Income tax back in the 60's was massive. The Beatles had a swipe at this in "Taxman". An accuarte chart would have shown some dodgy practices going of to avoid tax.
                      But sadly the truth is that few people wouldn't have cared less if the chart was rigged. I think somebody said at the time in connection with the charts: "why are young people ingrossed in how much money popstars are making?"
                      Education for anyone aged 12 to 16 has made a mess of the world!


                      • #12
                        Thanks for this Alan. I do love reading your posts on the charts from the 50s and 60s, and here the Record Retailer chart. Your posts are always informative and I've learned more about the charts from back then from reading your posts than I ever did from anywhere else.


                        • #13
                          Many thanks Robbie, and to others for their supportive posts!

                          I suppose that I first wanted to research chart History when Michael Cable's "The Pop Industry Inside Out" book came out in 1977, which I bought!

                          He was the only person to delve into how charts were compiled back then. Another `spur` was the "Guinness Hit Singles" early editions. They were clearly stating that the Record Industry chart for 1960-69 was the only one that counted.

                          Well, I started wondering why no background to this `official` chart was forthcoming in "Guinness" editions? The B.M.R.B chart was documented in both the `Record Mirror` and the "Radio One Book" (1969) but nothing seemed to be known about the R.R chart - or to be fair - any of the other 1950s-60s charts!

                          I couldn't apply myself to finding out until the late 1990s when I `retired` and had the time and money. Thankfully, many persons who were involved with chart comiling at the various music & trade papers were still around.

                          Though I had my serious doubts about the reliability of the RR chart when I started my research, I knew I had to be objective and impartial for my work to be valid.

                          My main criteria for comparing the various charts was size of sample. I did think the NME would be the largest sample size in the 1960s, but surprisingly it was the Melody Maker who sampled the most shops that period, getting well over 200 by 1967-69.

                          Another surprise was the small size of the Record Retailer sample 1960 to Jan 1964. Just 30 shops to make up a top 50 is ludicrous. Their compiler `Jeremy Wilder` told me in a phone conversation that he had to employ a rate of points percentage change from week to week to eliminate tied positions with only one instance "Morningtown Ride" and "Sunchine Superman" bieng `locked` in stalemate in Jan 1967.

                          Though the RR chart increased its sample to 75-80 1964-69 it lagged way behind sample size of NME & MM. The July 1967 change of RR chart publication from Thursday to Wednesday caused disruption in a big way. Michael Clare informed me that many shops could not get data back to RR in time, causing chart based on about 15 to 25 shop returns in July 1967. If folks study the JULY 1967 RR top 50, you will see tremendous volitility in many chart positions that month. The slighest rate of sales change was causing big effects in the RR chart as its sample was so small that period!

                          This is why I researched the early history of the Record Retailer and posted that article on this site as well. Apologies for any spelling mistakes!


                          • #14
                            you wrote great articles on- and delivered us all here great insights into- the history of the British charts, and then you apologize for any spelling errors? .....

                            Too funny (and I didn't notice).

                            If you have more on this topic or could produce articles around the charts of the averaged top 20/30 as were compiled by the BBC as a background, please do so.

                            man, I love your work. Please continue.


                            • #15
                              Many thanks! My English Grammar, spelling & Punctuation aren't as good as i'd like- so I do worry about them! Attrend! Have you read my "Chart History" article elswere on this section of the site?

                              In it is some data about the BBC/BMRB chart that came into use from Feb 1969. That is the one that was truly seen as `official` It was beset with problems- which I covered in the article!

                              Before Feb 69 the BBC "Pick of the Pops" chart was an averaged chart -using figures from the Music/Trade papers!

                              I didn't delve into charts post 70s as I only wanted to concentrate on the 50s to 70s.


                              • #16

                                Would you consider submitting your post above on Record Retailer to Wikipedia? Their page is SORELY lacking.




                                • #17
                                  Neal! I gave up on Wikepedia because they kept removing my posts stating I was infringing copyrites. So I can't see them changing their minds there really.


                                  • #18

                                    Thanks for your prompt response! I considered Wikipedia to be an errant joke for years but it has improved dramatically since.

                                    That said, I posted this on an interesting site about six weeks ago regarding Wiki's editorial policies (or lack of) -- hope it brings a smile:

                           ... edit-wars/




                                    • #19
                                      I know the theory that, if you remember the 60s you weren't there, but I would like to correct a few things about me and the Record Retailer back then. Me being Ian Dove. As I recall it, shortly after Roy Parker's death I was approached by Frank Smyth and Jeremy and offered the gig as Co Editor, a situation that lasted, I think, about a year before the eccentric and much beloved Smyth departed to write about crime, the supernatural and ghoulies (Not such a great leap, really.)I carried on as Editor until the Ad guy took a holiday, during which time, I believe, three or four labels started and I sort of took care of the details, like answering the phone. Jeremy and by this time I think Julian O. apparently mistook all this activity as proof that I was a silver tongued devil of a salesman. So I became both Editor and Sales Director on the masthead and the Record Retailer sailed on,with ad sales healthy, and Billboard showing interest at first and a cheque book later. They scraped Editor off my office door and there I was, a man who had worked as a journalist for 10 years, a Record Mirror and NME editor, sitting there in reduced circs . An ad salesman, for God's sake! Again as I remember it, around 1967 the industry took a slight dip and my ad sales went over a large cliff. I stood revealed, my silver tongue tarnished, as a man in the wrong place. And, as happens to the favorite son who has disgraced himself, I was sent to the Colonies, an even more bizarre job - International Promotions Director, Billboard Publications, New York. To this day I have no idea what this was but, the Gods did not forget me and I weasled my way back to Billboard's editorial staff. Sorry to go on, but, please, Ad Salesman!


                                      • #20
                                        Mr. DOVE

                                        Thanks ever so much for your reply. I enjoyed the thumbnail of your career. I take for granted you have tastier tales needing to be told.

                                        Shame we weren't next door to one another: I'd buy the pints, you'd tell the stories.

                                        Sith agus Sláinte 'bha,



                                        • #21
                                          asm mentions in his first post that Music Week, once it became a glossy format magazine, was printed in a custom built South Wales plant, the facilities being largely financed by Billboard magazine.

                                          The name of this printing press is Pensord

                                 ... -and-value

                                          The printers of Music Week changed over the years and until February this year it was printed by Headley Brothers who are based in Kent. Since February the printer has once again been Pensord so the printing of the magazine is now back where it started.

                                 ... turns-home


                                          • #22
                                            I've scanned a few pages from Rock File 4 (published 1976). These give an account of how the UK and USA charts were compiled in the mid 70's.

                                            The link below should be permanant, as PDF Archive don't remove files.
                                            pdf file: Rock File001.pdf
                                            Education for anyone aged 12 to 16 has made a mess of the world!


                                            • #23
                                              Sorry to resurrect this thread but just wondered when exactly would it be safe to assume that the record retailer/BMRB/Gallup 'official' chart became the most accurate chart (bearing in mind hyping), as opposed to the most used?

                                              There seem to be at least 5-7 instances per year in 1970s of records at number in the NME/ Melody Maker charts that were not in the official one. I cite for example the 1973 case of Jean Genie only getting to number 2 in the 'official chart' along with the infamous case of the Sex Pistols in 1977.

                                              Is the accuracy of the official chart any better in the 70s than it was in the 60's? Should one assume that all 3 charts are still valid and if so up until when?




                                              • #24
                                                Originally posted by intothefireuk
                                                Sorry to resurrect this thread but just wondered when exactly would it be safe to assume that the record retailer/BMRB/Gallup 'official' chart became the most accurate chart (bearing in mind hyping), as opposed to the most used?

                                                There seem to be at least 5-7 instances per year in 1970s of records at number in the NME/ Melody Maker charts that were not in the official one. I cite for example the 1973 case of Jean Genie only getting to number 2 in the 'official chart' along with the infamous case of the Sex Pistols in 1977.

                                                Is the accuracy of the official chart any better in the 70s than it was in the 60's? Should one assume that all 3 charts are still valid and if so up until when?


                                                Didn't the Sex Pistols only make #5 in Melody Maker?

                                                I think a lot of people wanted to believe SP were #1 for political reasons.

                                                Alan Jones wrote an article on the situation - it's out there somewhere - and it was clear that Rod Stewart was well ahead at #1.

                                                Since the multiples weren't stocking it most of its sales were in the Independent shops which is where NME took their data from.


                                                • #25
                                                  "Hyping" by the action of a record company buying copies into the chart using the specific "chart shops" wasn't eliminated till the introduction of bar codes and the EPOS system, which was probably widespread by the 1990's. Till the use of Millward Brown to compile the charts, I suspect any chart could be a bit dodgy. However I know they are still dodgy, just in more subtle ways these days.
                                                  Incidentally there is the actually top 100 for the week the Sex Pistols were supposed to be top, with some background information on it on my blog site. As you can see they were outselling Rod, but were still not number one.
                                                  The real fiddling that week was by a record company (the Sex Pistols former label A&M) trying to hype Alessi Oh Lori into the charts.
                                                  The 1977 chart is about 3 quarters down the page.
                                                  Education for anyone aged 12 to 16 has made a mess of the world!