September 7, 2023
Music History

A look back on the golden era of music magazines

[This was my column for on Sunday. – AC]

When I was in high school and university, every Wednesday afternoon required to the Rexall drug store in my small prairie hometown. That was the day any new music magazines appeared in the racks. Using money I earned stocking shelves in the local grocery store, I’d grab the latest editions of Rolling Stone (which came out every two weeks), and monthlies like CREEMTrouser Press, and Circus for international news, and Music Express to learn about what was happening in Canada.

My parents were appalled, of course, at what they considered a waste of money. And when I brought home the infamous Rolling Stone issue — “Rock is Sick and Living in London” — featuring the Sex Pistols on the cover (a newsstand sales disaster for the magazine in October 1978), my parents openly wondered if I needed to be institutionalized for my own good.

My music magazine habit only got worse over the decades. Occasionally, I’d see a copy of Melody Maker or The NME — horribly outdated by the time they arrived in Canada — in a specialty bookstore and grab them for a look at the oh-so-exotic scene in the UK. When Chapters and Indigo arrived with their giant selection, my spending on music magazines grew to several thousand dollars a year.

By this time, there was also Alternative Press, Spin, Raygun, Option, ShiftMaximum RocknRoll, and Modern Drummer all from the U.S. with domestic backfill from Canadian MusicianChart Attack, and Graffiti. I bought them all, all the time. But most of my cash went to British publications.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37007 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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