The NME Awards have been going for 63 rock’n’roll years, bringing debauchery and mayhem to venues across London. The awards have changed quite a lot since their inception when prizes were handed out in categories such as Outstanding Clarinet Player. While it’s anyone’s guess what will happen in 2017, we can guarantee you there’ll be no clarinets involved. In the meantime, swot up on the history of the NME Awards so you’re fully prepared for this year’s event.
Don’t miss all the action – get tickets for the ceremony now by heading here. The VO5 NME Awards 2017 will take place on February 15 2017 at London’s O2 Academy Brixton. Beyoncé is up for five awards, while The 1975, Bastille, Skepta and Christine And The Queens are all nominated for four each.
1953: The first NME Readers Poll appeared in a late February edition of the paper in 1953, whilst the accompanying Poll Winners Award took place at London’s Royal Albert Hall in April. Keep clicking for highlights of the annual bash, which has been going for so long, it actually pre-dates the birth of rock and roll.
1959: Held at the Royal Albert Hall, 7000 music fans turned up. It was hosted by Pete Murray and Lonnie Donegan was greeted by a “shattering reception,” our reporter said. Meanwhile Cliff Richard “suffered from too much applause.” Frankie Vaughan gave a “lithe, animated performer…and his act is a pleasant combination of traditions both old and new in show business.” (issue 09/10/1959)
1964: 10,000 fans filled Wembley’s Empire Pool stadium in April for the 3 and a half hour show, what we called “the greatest pop show in the world.” There were performances from The Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones, The Animals and The Beatles who made their first stage performance since January.
1966: 1966 was a golden year in pop and so our awards proved. Elvis, The Beatles and Dusty all won awards. Our man said: “They are not the only victors, by any means. But they have secured their successes- to some extent, unexpectedly- by deposing other firmly established champions. And for this reason, their triumphs are all the more praiseworthy.”
(NME poll concert, issue 06/05/1966)
1970: The start of the decade found Elvis, The Beatles and The Shadows dominating, meanwhile Elton John nabbed the ‘New Disc Singer’ vote. ‘Let It Be’ won the ‘Best British LP’ and the ‘Best British Single’ accolade was won by Mungo Jerry’s ‘In the Summertime’. After this, the Awards stopped being a live concert and – for over two decades – became simply a reader poll in the mag.
1977: As our scribe said: “1977 was the year in which the nice, neat rock hierachies which bossed the interim period between the end of the 60’s and the real beginning of the 70s (76) broke down.” Thus, The Sex Pistol topped most categories, knocking off the likes of Led Zeppelin, Yes and Genesis. Bowie was a notable era straddler.
1990: The Stone Roses dominated the poll at the end of the decade. They nabbed a whopping four of the top categories including Band and LP of the year. NME‘s Danny Kelly said: “From out of nowhere, The Stone Roses have emerged to enjoy a dominance (Best Band, Best New Band, LP Of The Year, Single Of The Year!) unlike any since the halcyon days of The Smiths.” (issue 13/01/1990)
1993: R.E.M. had cemented their position as indie godheads, taking both the Best Band and Album categories. Meanwhile Suede were approaching from Camden winning New Band and Single categories. At this point, Britpop was starting to kick off, so in 1994 we took things off the printed page and launched the NME Awards (then known as the Brats) as an all-guns-blazing live event.
1996: The ’96 awards should have been re-named the ‘Oasis Awards’ really. The brothers Gallagher swept the board winning. Noel Gallagher was quoted as saying: “Awards don’t make you any better of any worse but it would really do my head in if I went out in the pouring rain to the post box to vote for my favourite band and then they went up and said they weren’t bothered.”
2000: The 2000 awards took place at London’s Mermaid Theatre on February 1st, Paul McCartney was guest of honour at the Awards, picking up an gong on behalf of The Beatles who were voted the Best Band Ever. In his speech he said the trophy was: “better than a Brit,” and added: “Can I just say thank you to John, George, Ringo and thank you God.” Meanwhile, Blur picked up three awards.
2002: It was Strokes year at the award show in ’02. Radiohead, Ash, Ian Brown, U2 and Kylie also picked up gongs on the night. On the night, Julian Casablancas said: “This is way more fun than the Brits. It’s way more relaxing. The Brits are like industry and this is people.” Meanwhile Kylie Minogue (winner of Best Pop Act) admitted she had a “soft spot for The Strokes.” Oo-er missus, etc.
2003: In 2003 Coldplay and Oasis were big winners, with Noel Gallagher hushing the assembled crowd with a beautiful, acoustic take on ‘Wonderwall’. Meanwhile there was drama when Black Rebel Motorcycle’s Nick Jago refused to get offstage when he collected the Best Video award. One way shouted: ‘You’re only the drummer.’ Ouch. The Libertines took home the Best New Band trophy.
2004: Taking place on February 12th at Hammersmith Palais, ’04 was the year in which the new rock revolution had taken over and the likes of Franz Ferdinand, The White Stripes and the Kings Of Leon ruled the roost. Caleb Followill urged NME to give a gong to long-dead Velvet Underground chanteuse Nico.
2007: From the starry attendees (Kate Moss, two fifths of Girls Aloud) to the host (Lauren Laverne). There was a wonderful meeting of minds in the duet between Jarvis Cocker and The Gossip’s Beth Ditto, meanwhile a semi Libertines reunion, Lovefoxxx and Simon Reynolds coupled up like Mr and Mrs Nu Rave.
Credit: Andy Willsher/NME
2008: Mat Horne and James Corden hosted, Arctic Monkeys swept the board, Manic Street Preachers won the Godlike Genius Award and The Killers accepted their award with a video which features,um, Mike Tyson. Meanwhile, Kimberly Stewart and Agyness Deyn added some glam to the proceedings and Lightspeed Champion dresses up like Darth Vader for his performance. Oh and er Danny Dyer turned up.
Credit: Dean Chalkley/NME
2009: Dizzee gave a sweet acceptance speech, we had a blub over Damon and Graham reuniting for a lovely, lovely version of ‘This Is A Low’ and the award for ‘biggest hat’ of the evening went to Grace Jones. Other highlights included Tim Burton presenting The Cure with their Godlike Genius award and Friendly Fires doing their Brazilian dancers thing to full effect.
Credit: Timothy Cochrane/NME
2010: Hosted by Jarvis Cocker this was possibly the slickest NME Awards so far. There was no one act who swept the board, but Muse, Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian all nabbed awards. Courtney Love opened the show with her new version of Hole, Paul Weller picked up a Godlike Genius Award and Matt Helders turned up looking like a TV cop from the 1970’s.
Credit: Dean Chalkley/NME
2011: The 2011 awards were pretty rock-tastic with the Foo Fighters playing a two hour live set, after winning the Godlike Genius Award (Dave Grohl began his speech with the LOL-tastic opener: “You guys realise you gave this to a drummer, right?”) . My Chemical Romance ran off with a couple of trophies and Biffy Clyro picked one up and Muse nabbed their ninth (yes ninth).
Credit: Richard Johnson/NME
2013: Godlike Genius went to The Smiths’ guitarist Johnny Marr, who invited The Vaccines’ Justin Young and The Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood to perform with him. Elsewhere, Florence + The Machine and the Stones picked up two awards each while The Maccabees’ ‘Given To The Wild’ was named Best Album.
Credit: Getty Images
2015: Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page was given the special Rock’n’Roll Soul Award in 2015 and made the most of his night, getting photos with performers Run The Jewels and Royal Blood. Suede closed the night with a Godlike Genius performance and Jamie T capped his glorious comeback by picking up three awards.
2016: Coldplay completed the fastest trajectory from Best New Artist to Godlike Genius, collecting the ultimate award 15 years after their first. Rat Boy was named Best New Artist, Wolf Alice collected Best Track and Taylor Swift sent a confused video message accepting Best International Solo Artist.