Former NME journalist Fred Dellar has died, it has been confirmed.
A beloved and highly respected writer, Dellar worked for NME from 1972 until the mid-’90s, and wrote the Fred Fact column for the magazine as well as compiling the crossword and contributing reviews, features and more.
A three-page Factory Records special of the Fred Fact column was given its own catalogue number, FAC227, by the label in 1989. “Hang on to this page,” Dellar wrote in the July 1 issue announcing the news. “It will shortly acquire a value far exceeding the fee you paid for this edition of the best rock paper in the world and then continue to soar. So don’t ditch it – ever!”
Music journalist Fred Dellar has sadly passed away, wrote for just about everyone and compiled crosswords many of us will have tried to complete. Not many writers produced a piece that was given its own Factory number pic.twitter.com/TYgulHWLn5
— Bruce Gorrie (@bsgorrie) May 16, 2021
As well as NME, the journalist was also a valued contributor at publications including Smash Hits, Vox, Loaded, Q, and MOJO. He also wrote sleeve notes for record releases and co-authored many books, ranging from The Illustrated Country Music Encyclopedia, Sinatra – Night And Day, The NME Guide To Rock Cinema and more.
In an interview with YouTube channel UKRockHistory, Dellar spoke about his time at NME with humility. “It was quite funny being there with [writers like Julie Burchill, Nick Kent and Charles Shaar Murray] – all better writers than me,” he said. “I think I was a bit of an oddity but, because I was an oddity, I did quite well. I was very friendly with Julie and Tony [Parsons]. They’d bring me in cakes, I was a sort of old age project for them or something. But I seemed to get on well with everybody.”
Journalist David Quantick broke the news of Dellar’s death on Twitter today (May 16). “I am very sad to report that the brilliant Fred Dellar has passed away,” he wrote. “Fred was a funny, kind man whose knowledge of music, expressed in NME and his Fred Fact column in Q, was second to none. If you knew Fred and would like to send a card to his family, please message me.”
I am very sad to report that the brilliant Fred Dellar has passed away. Fred was a funny, kind man whose knowledge of music, expressed in NME and his Fred Fact column in Q, was second to none. If you knew Fred and would like to send a card to his family, please message me. pic.twitter.com/kVlaQ2D7rY
— David Quantick (@quantick) May 16, 2021
Since then, journalists and music fans alike have paid tribute to the writer on social media, hailing him for his wide-ranging musical knowledge, passion and talent.
“RIP the great, infinitely knowledgeable Fred Dellar, whose words & wisdom a lot of us knew as both readers & colleagues,” journalist John Harris tweeted.
RIP the great, infinitely knowledgeable Fred Dellar, whose words & wisdom a lot of us knew as both readers & colleagues https://t.co/VxsmQm39nR
— John Harris (@johnharris1969) May 16, 2021
“The lovely Fred Dellar has gone,” Stuart Bailie wrote. “A feature at the NME from 1972 until at least 1996 and thereafter a valued contributor to Mojo. The kindest soul, he made new writers feel welcome. Always there with a story, facts and smiles like a best, encouraging uncle.”
The lovely Fred Dellar has gone. A feature at the NME from 1972 until at least 1996 and thereafter a valued contributor to Mojo. The kindest soul, he made new writers feel welcome. Always there with a story, facts and smiles like a best, encouraging uncle. pic.twitter.com/KjbZCHYSLW
— Stuart Bailie (@stu_bailie) May 16, 2021
“I remember completing my first Fred Dellar NME crossword on my 18th birthday,” added Marcus Austin. “It was so important to me, that I can’t remember anything else about the day. RIP Fred.”
I remember completing my first Fred Dellar NME crossword on my 18th birthday. It was so important to me, that I can't remember anything else about the day. RIP Fred
— marcus austin (@marcusa) May 16, 2021
See more tributes to Dellar below.
Oh this is sad news. Fred Dellar was an ever-present name in my many years reading music magazines, from weeklies to the monthlies. RIP. https://t.co/r8ZFHVXoRr
— Billy Bell (@Billy_Bell99) May 16, 2021
Fred Dellar was a wonderful, gracious man, a fine writer with encyclopaedic knowledge.
On a personal note, he was the first journalist to mention me (NME 1970s) and wrote a humbling 4 star review of my last album “Navigate” (Mojo 2019)
One of a dying breed, and a great loss.
— Nigel Stonier (@NigelStonier) May 16, 2021
Goodbye Fred Dellar. He was the kindest, most generous and knowledgeable person I ever met in the world of music weeklies. Very welcoming to me when I started at a febrile NME in 1987, still offering help to me thirty-odd years later. We’ve lost someone special.
— bob stanley (@rocking_bob) May 16, 2021
RIP Fred Dellar. Before google if you wanted to know a pop fact you wrote to ask Fred and a couple of weeks later he would answer your question in the NME. Try telling young people that today and they won’t believe you.
— GlennA (@GlennAirey) May 16, 2021
Sad to hear about the great Fred Dellar. Had sections named after him in NME and Q but outlived both magazines. On the rare occasions you heard cheering coming from MOJO you knew it was because he’d walked in. Also, a massive old-school QPR fan. Rest in peace.
— Ted Kessler (@TedKessler1) May 16, 2021
Sad to hear of the death of Fred Dellar. The NME crossword was an essential part of the week as me and my mates raced to finish it. I was lucky enough to work with him later – a lovely, warm, gentle man. Now he's away to try and solve the greatest cryptic puzzle of them all.
— Mike Pattenden (@MikePattenden) May 16, 2021
RIP Fred Dellar. LIke a kindly uncle when I started at NME in the 90s, and seemed like he'd been a Zelig-like figure who'd witnessed everything that happened in music since 1951. Shared his knowledge so generously and so modestly. One of music journalism's true gentlemen.
— Johnny Sharp (@johnnycigs) May 16, 2021
Another concise & spot on review here from Fred Dellar who has sadly passed away.
— RoseTelstarWallCult5 (@5Tunesaday) May 16, 2021
Cheerio Fred. Your crosswords not only served to keep me entertained/infuriated for 30 odd years, but also opened musical avenues I probably would never have gone down, expanding my horizons. Some feat for a mere puzzle. Rest easy. #freddellar #Mojo #NME https://t.co/nFMHoOhTfY
— Adm. Spartus Cloud. (@GoodLaughTerry) May 16, 2021