VO5 NME Awards 2017: 50 geeky facts about the most rock’n’roll awards ceremony

Who's the only politician to win Hero Of The Year? What categories were in the first ceremonies? Find out the answers and more here.

It’s not long now until the VO5 NME Awards 2017 take over London’s O2 Academy Brixton. February 15 will see the great and good of modern music celebrate each other’s achievements and gather together for one big party.

You can be there too – tickets are available now – and you can also have your say on who wins what. Voting is still open – cast your vote here before it’s too late.


The VO5 NME Awards return for another night of celebrating all the great music over the last 12 months on February 15. We won’t know who’s winning what until the night so tide yourself over with these very geeky facts about the ceremony’s past.

Ronnie Scott was one of the first ever NME Awards winners

When the first NME Awards was held in 1953, then called the NME Poll Winners Concert, things looked a little different. There were no scruffy indie bands walking on stage to pick up middle finger-raising trophies. Instead, respectable musicians like Ronnie Scott (pictured, centre) and Ted Heath were amongst the first ever winners. How times have changed…

The iconic middle finger trophy has been handed out since 1994

If you’re celebrating the most rock’n’roll music, people and antics at your awards ceremony, the award itself should probably reflect that a little. So, in 1994, instead of handing out some fancy, elegantly designed trophy, we’ve been giving all our winners an award shaped like a hand with its middle finger raised. Taylor Swift got a bit confused by it, to say the least.


The NME Awards were briefly known as the Brat Awards

Following a year off in 1993, the awards were named the Brats as a cheeky take on the Brits in 1994. Here’s Paul McCartney and Damon Albarn getting along nicely at the 2000 event.

George W. Bush won Villain Of The Year six years in a row

Being called the epitome of evil that many times in a row is probably a sign you should take a long, hard look at yourself.

Margaret Thatcher won Creep Of The Year eight times as well as Bastard Of The Year

Yeah, the NME Awards aren’t just limited to music and Dubya wasn’t the first politician to be repeatedly slated at the ceremony. If you were under any doubt what NME readers of the ’80s thought about The Iron Lady, wonder no more.

In 1972 there was a tie for Best Album

It seems voters in the early ’70s just couldn’t make their minds up about what was better – T. Rex’s ‘Electric Warrior’ or John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’. Instead of NME staff casting the deciding vote, the award was given to both. Democracy in action.


Elvis Presley might be the biggest winner in NME Awards history, but he never made it to the ceremony

Instead, he sent in handwritten notes thanking the magazine every time he was victorious. What a gent.

One of Elvis’ NME Awards is on display at Graceland though

It was taken over to the US before his death and is now on display to the public as part of the Graceland exhibit.

Kasabian hold the record for most nominations in one year

The Leicester lads might have a way to go before they beat Elvis’ winning record, but at least they can lay claim to being nominated for the most awards in one year. They were up for a whopping nine in 2015. They went on to win two – Best British Band and Best Album for ’48:13′.

Razorlight won Worst Album in 2007, despite the record being given 8/10 in the magazine

Can’t imagine Johnny Borrell was happy about this one… Following a glowing 8/10 review in NME, Razorlight’s self-titled record was giving one great big tug back down to earth when it was named Worst Album. That makes it the highest rated Worst Album winner ever.


Godlike Genius was first awarded in 1994 and John Peel was its first recipient

Every year, we crown someone Godlike Genius. Many legends over the years have picked up the award, including Blondie, Dave Grohl, The Clash, The Cure and Ian Brown. The first ever recipient, though, was legendary DJ John Peel who was recognised for his dedication to new music.

The Beatles’ last ever UK concert appearance was at the NME Poll Winners’ Party in 1966

The Fab Four’s last ever ever gig might have been in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, but they said goodbye to their screaming fans in the UK with one final performance at our very own party.

To get into the Poll Winners’ Party unnoticed, The Beatles had to come in disguise

As the most famous band in the world and being bigger than Jesus, The Beatles were forced to turn up to the awards incognito. Their disguises? Pastry cooks. They would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for Ringo dropping a tray of cakes on the floor. Classic Ringo, eh?

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club gave a silent speech in 2003

Not all indie bands are gobby, eloquent or just excitable. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Nick Jago really took things to extremes in 2003, though, giving a seven-minute speech that consisted of pure silence as the band collected the trophy for Best Video.

Dave Grohl celebrated his Godlike Genius award with a mammoth live show

These days, when an artist is recognised as a Godlike Genius, they perform some of their best songs to close out the ceremony. Most bands do five or six tracks. In 2011, Dave Grohl decided he was going to play for two hours, with a little help from his Foo Fighters bandmates.

The NME Awards once took place in Los Angeles

The NME Awards might be a very British thing, but the ceremony once took place twice in one year with one event in London and another in LA. The NME Awards USA was held at the El Rey Theatre in 2008 and rewarded a host of US stars, including Band Of The Year, The Killers.

Muse’s career could have been cut short after their first NME Awards win

After picking up the award for Best New Band in 2000, the Devon trio jumped onto a private plane to get to their next gig. Very fancy, especially for a young band. Only thing was one of the engines caught fire. Thankfully, all ended well, but the group were a little frightened by the experience. Matt Bellamy later explained: “We had to fly to a gig and one of the engines caught alight as it was going down the runway – we were actually sitting there with the award in our hands when the engine burst into flames.”

The first NME Awards had some categories you wouldn’t even imagine being associated with the ceremony now

Back in the early days of the NME Awards, there was no Villain Of The Year, no Best Dancefloor Filler. Instead the categories were things like Outstanding Arranger, Outstanding Clarinet Player and Outstanding American Feminine Singer (won by Doris Day, pictured). Truly another world.

Categories in the ’90s were a bit weird too

At 1999’s NME Awards, readers were asked to vote for things like Pop Personality You’d Most Like As Your Doctor or Pop Personality You’d Most Like As Your Driving Instructor. Natalie Imbruglia and Jamiroquai’s Jay Kay won those two respectively.

The NME Awards used to celebrate the Phrase Of The Year

And, for some reason, it was won by “You fat bastard!” in 1991. The line was often chanted at Carter USM gigs around the time.

Arctic Monkeys took home three awards in one night in 2006

They were only the third band to do so in the modern era after Coldplay and The Strokes. Their awards? Best New Band, Best British Band and Best Track for ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’.

The Awards have been held in venues all over London over the years

O2 Academy Brixton might be our long-standing home, but the NME Awards have been held in almost every corner of London since their conception. Venues have included Hammersmith Palais, Troxy, Royal Albert Hall, Empire Pool Wembley, indigO2 and the Mermaid Theatre, plus many more.

The Killers have been nominated for Best International Band five times since 2005

Some bands are quite familiar with some of the categories. Not least The Killers, who have found themselves nominated for Best International Band five times since 2005. Will they be in the running in 2017?

Kanye West proved very divisive in 2016

The superstar rapper was nominated for Hero Of The Year, but also Villain Of The Year. A rare feat, yet Yeezy picked up neither award. He was beaten by Dave Grohl and Donald Trump, respectively. Poor Ye.

The Kinks’ Ray Davies wasn’t best pleased when his band were beaten by The Rolling Stones

Both groups were up for the Best Newcomer Award in 1965, but the Stones won out in the end. Ray Davies didn’t take it very well, though, storming off stage when the result was announced.

Pete Doherty broke into bandmate Carl Barat’s house in 2003 and stole his NME Award

Young Peter wasn’t too happy about being kicked out of the band due to his drug addiction and infamously broke into bandmate Carl’s house when the rest of the Libertines were touring Japan. Amongst the things he took was the group’s NME Award for Best New Band.

Pete and Carl recited part of a Siegfried Sassoon poem when collecting an award in 2004

A year later, Pete was present at the Awards and celebrated The Libertines’ win for Best Band by roping Carl into reciting Suicide In The Trenches with him. It’s still one of the best acceptance speeches in recent memory.

Matt Bellamy reckons the NME Awards are like a girlfriend.

A “crazy, weird, co-dependent psycho girlfriend that loves you, hates you and wants you to come back for more,” according to an interview he gave us in 2011. Thanks, we think?

In 2012, Kasabian dedicated their award to The Monkees’ Davy Jones

The Monkees man passed away the day before the 2012 ceremony and Kasabian’s Tom Meighan made sure he was remembered on the night. When picking up the award for Best British Band, he told the audience: “It’s nice [to win], it’s an achievement… I’m over the moon. But fuck tonight man, tonight belongs to Davy Jones from The Monkees. There’s a hole in rock’n’roll – I dedicate that award to him.”

In 2016, Vlogger Of The Year was introduced to the categories

As a reflection of the changing face of technology and media, one vlogger was crowned the best in this year’s Awards. The winner? KSI, a rapper who has also found fame and a huge online following via his blogs about the FIFA videogames.

Glastonbury is the biggest winning event in NME Awards history

No other festival has won as many awards as Michael and Emily Eavis’ Glastonbury. The Somerset bash has picked up 13 awards over the years, and we’d bet there’s more to come in its future too.

Huw Stephens has hosted the awards for the last three years

The BBC Radio 1 DJ made the hosting gig his own in 2014 and has been invited back to reprise the role for the two years since. Other broadcasters to have hosted the NME Awards include Zane Lowe, Lauren Laverne and Steve Lamacq and Mary Anne Hobbs.

Only one politician has won Hero Of The Year

Usually Villain Of The Year is reserved for evil politicians like Trump and Thatcher. Only one politician has ever won Hero Of The Year, however. Who? Barack Obama, of course. He picked up the award in 2013.

Best Film was first awarded in 1981 and was won by teen movie Gregory’s Girl

Other winners over the years include The Silence Of The Lambs and Wayne’s World.

Best TV Show was first awarded in 1964 and was won by Ready Steady Go!

The first winner of Best TV was ITV’s music show Ready Steady Go!, which featured acts like The Who, The Beatles, The Kinks, The Temptations and more. Other winners over the years include The Office, The Mighty Boosh, Coronation Street and Brookside.

Comedians and broadcasters aren’t the only ones to have hosted the NME Awards

Some musicians have also presented the ceremony over the years. There was Roy Orbison way back in the ’60s, along with Tony Bennett, then years later, Jarvis Cocker and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder.

O2 Academy Brixton won Best Venue 10 times

The south London venue is one of the UK’s most iconic live music spaces so it’s little wonder it won Best Venue more than once. Would you believe that it won the award 10 times between 1986-2000, though? We reckon it’s pretty well deserved.

NME.com had to be excluded from the Best Website award after winning too many times

After picking up the prize for Best Website five years in a row, the category name had to be changed to Best Website (excluding NME.com). Guess you can be just too good.

Alana Haim was the first musician to be rewarded for their Twitter use

@babyhaim entertained us all in 2013 with her social media usage, so it was only right that she win the award for Best Band Blog Or Twitter.

There used to be an award for Radio 1 Evening Session Session Of The Year

Back in the ’90s, there was a specific award for the sessions broadcast on Radio 1’s Evening Session programme, as hosted by Steve Lamacq and Jo Whiley – basically the equivalent of a Live Lounge award. It was only handed out for four years, with winners including Supergrass, Coldplay, Radiohead and Suede.

Oasis won Worst Band and Best Band in the same year

Oh yes, you think it’s mad that we gave The 1975 Worst Band in 2014 and then voted their second album Album Of The Year in our end-of-year review. That’s nothing compared to 1997, when we gave Worst Band and Best Band to the same group – Oasis.

Matt Bellamy is the sexiest man, according to voters

For a time, there were awards for the sexiest man and woman in music. Muse’s Matt Bellamy won sexiest/hottest man four times over the years – the most victories in the category ever.

Paul Weller is the Most Wonderful Human Being

The Jam frontman was given the old Most Wonderful Human Being award four years, including three years in a row. Other winners include Morrissey and Johnny Rotten.

Event Of The Year was often given to big political moments

The first few instances of the Event Of The Year award were morbid affairs, marking the deaths of Elvis and John Lennon. Later, it was often given to big political moments including the resignation of Margaret Thatcher, the nuclear agreement of 1987 and Nelson Mandela’s birthday party the following year.

Threat Of The Year was handed out in 1986

For one year only, Threat Of The Year was a legitimate category. Its recipient? AIDS, which was a big worry in the mid-80s.

The award for Safe Sex was also handed out in 1987

Morrissey picked this one up, which is possibly the most bizarre category to ever exist in NME Awards history. What does it even mean?!

John Peel won Best Radio Show 16 times

The late, legendary DJ certainly had this category all sewn up. He also collected the Best DJ award a further six times.

Mick Jagger’s first NME Award wasn’t what you’d expect

No, it wasn’t with the Stones or even for his fantastic dance moves. Instead it was Best New Disc Or TV Singer in 1964.

Only five awards given out at the first ceremony compared to 25 in 2016

The first NME Awards in 1953 only had five different categories – Dance Band, Female Vocalist, Outstanding Musician, Small Band and Male Vocalist. Compare that to the Awards in the modern era when 25 awards are handed out.

The Jam have won Best Album the most times

Paul Weller’s old group picked up the trophy three times for their records ‘All Mod Cons’, ‘Setting Sons’ and ‘Sound Affects’. Arctic Monkeys, however, have only won the award twice.