The Famous Q Magazine Comes to an End

It was sad to read last week that after 34 years the influential and very readable Q magazine has shut up shop for good. Here’s the cover of the last-ever edition:. Editor Ted Kessler said in a tweet: “The pandemic did for us, and there was nothing more to it than that.” In an editor’s letter in the final issue he writes: “We’ve been a lean operation for all of my tenure, employing a variety of ways to help keep our head above water in an extremely challenging print market. Covid-19 wiped all that out. I must apologise profusely for my failure to keep Q afloat.”

The magazine’s circulation had fallen to 28,000 per month from a peak of 200,000 in 2001.

Q was founded in 1986 by Smash Hits writers Mark Ellen and David Hepworth. It arrived at the same time as the CD revolution took off – and its glossy, aspirational format chimed perfectly with the times.

Over those 34 years Q, like many other music magazines, has had its fair share of Beatles on the cover. They are, and remain, a way to sell more copies – just take the latest edition of British GQ magazine that has Paul McCartney front and centre – including an extensive new interview:

In a trip down memory lane, here are a few favourite Q magazine Beatle-inspired covers from over the years. Turns out McCartney graced the very first Q :

He became a fairly frequent visitor:

As was John Lennon on many an occasion: As they did above, sometimes Q would produce multiple versions of a cover to make a particular commemorative edition more collectable – like this series for Lennon’s 70th birthdate:

The Beatles as a band were not all that frequently seen, though certainly written about often:

This image of John and Paul is memorable:

As are these two of Paul, firstly with his Hofner bass: And then as a mystery man:
So, fare-thee-well Q mag. You’ll be missed. It’s been mighty real over the last 34 years. Sad to see yet another casualty of COVID-19. The shockwaves of this thing continue to ripple outwards.

McCartney – Big Q Magazine Feature

The current (June, 2010 – Issue 287) edition of “Q” magazine has a front cover featuring an angry Paul McCartney:

This is a collector cover – one released just for subscribers to the magazine, something that publishers seem to be doing lately to get people to buy product from them rather than just down-loading or getting a copy from the newsagent. I think the newsagent copy will look like this:

The magazine contains a 26-page special feature on Paul McCartney – and its highly recommended reading. The dramatic cover photo(s), and some shots inside, are by David Bailey – who is not new to photographing the Beatles. His work in the Sixties helped define the decade – Swinging London in particular – and he photographed the Beatles from time-to-time. Here’s a photo he took a LOT earlier:

Inside the current “Q” magazine Editor-In-Chief, Paul Rees, gets to spend a month on the road with the man, interviewing him in England and the USA. We get a look at some really interesting and previously un-seen Linda McCartney photographs, and there’s a couple of pages about Paul the avant-garde member of the Fab Four. This is followed the likes of Brian Wilson, Chris Martin, Jamie Callum, Dave Grohl and Paul Weller, to name just a few giving their favourite Paul song recommendations. And finally an in-depth feature on what happened to Wings in Lagos, Nigeria during the making of 1973’s “Band on the Run”. Some really scary stuff….not the greatest place to choose to record an album, but what an album it turned out to be.

One of the best sections in the magazine is the one featuring the many rare photos by Linda McCartney. This one, of McCartney sitting on a straw bale at his farm in Scotland in 1978, is previously unpublished:

The other one I really like is a candid photograph taken during the shoot for the famous “Abbey Road” cover. The caption says: “McCartney and band banter with passer-by in a shot documenting The Beatles’s Abbey Road cover session on 8 August 1969. Note Macca’s sandals, which he’d remove for the iconic final cover picture”:

Its all pretty good stuff and I reckon well worth the cover price (no matter which cover you get).

Postscript: In a spooky co-incidence, I just found out that the very first issue of “Q” magazine, dated October 1986, also had Paul on the front cover…..Issue 001 included articles on Paul McCartney, Big Audio Dynamite, Cocaine, Bob Dylan, Lenny Henry and John Blake.