MAURICE IRVING KINN, founder of NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, died in LONDON last night (August 3) aged 77, after a battle against cancer.
Maurice Kinn was a successful booking agent and concert promoter before he bought the Musical and Accordion Express magazine for #1,000, with a loan from his father-in-law, in February 1952.
He relaunched it as the New Musical Express two weeks later. The first front page bore the legend “NME Exclusive – Britain to get commercial radio.”
In November of that year, he instigated the first charts to be based on record sales as opposed to sales of sheet music, by getting his staff to phone round record shops and find out what was selling. Because there were few records issued at that time, they only amounted to the Top 12.
When he bought the former Musical and Accordion Express, its circulation was 20,000. By the ’60s it sold well over 200,000 copies every week.
When ownership of the magazine passed on to George Newnes in the mid-’60s, he remained as an adviser to the company, and was still involved when NME became one of the flagship titles in the launch of IPC Magazines in 1969.
Derek Johnson, who was news editor of the magazine under Maurice Kinn from 1957-86, remembered him as an innovator who was passionate about music, setting up the legendary NME Poll Winners’ Party concerts in the ’60s which featured every big band of the day. He added: “He loved Sinatra and Tony Bennett, that was his era. But he always maintained an interest in what happened with the NME.”
Current editor of NME, Ben Knowles, said: “A lot of people owe Maurice Kinn a very great debt. Without his vision NME would not have become the legendary music title and incredible influence on music we have now been for 48 years. Every great British musical phenomena from Cliff and The Beatles to The Sex Pistols and Oasis can look to him, hopefully gratefully, for the significant role NME has played in their careers.”
Maurice Kinn‘s funeral was held in London today (August 4) and a memorial service will be arranged at a later date.