NME FOUNDER PERCY DICKINS DIES

His death, aged 80, comes in the year of the 50th anniversary of the pop charts he helped to start...

PERCY DICKINS, one of the NME founders, has died.

Mr Dickins, who was 80, died of heart failure on Monday morning (February 11). His death comes in the year of the 50th anniversary of the pop charts he helped to start.

In 1952 Percy, then a Melody Maker staff journalist, joined the entrepreneur Maurice Kinn and editor Ray Sonin to found the New Musical Express. Percy’s responsibilities were advertising, layout and printing. He soon came up with the idea of publishing a chart based on the sales of records instead of the sheet music previously listed. For the first few months it also fell to him to gather the information from the record stores and compile the charts each week.

Percy was the only one of that original staff to stay with the paper and he saw the chameleon NME change from the big band era to rock & roll in the 50s, from Beatlemania to psychedelia in the 60s, from prog-rock to punk in the 70s and finally through to electronica when he left in 1982.

In the early 60s Percy put together the NME Poll Winners’ Concert featuring acts such as Beatles and the Rolling Stones on the same bill at Wembley Arena (then known as the Empire Pool), setting the tone for the many award shows that followed.

He also knew and cared about the creative talents within the business and in the early 70s set up the annual NME Awards to celebrate the talents of record producers, sleeve and advert designers, recording engineers etc who had previously gone unrecognised.

Percy was the first of the now three generations of the Dickins family in the music business. His eldest son Barry is the co-chairman of music agency/promoters ITB, whilst his younger son Rob is chairman of the BPI (British Phonographic Institute) and of his own companies Instant Karma and Dharma. Percy’s grandchildren Jonathan and Lucy are in records and music agency respectively.