23 glorious years of NME’s Godlike Genius Award

Let's go mad fer it on Valentine's Day 2018

Yesterday (November 29th), NME announced that Liam Gallagher will be next year’s recipient for the Godlike Genius Award at the V05 NME Awards at Brixton Academy on February 14, 2018. Liam will swagger through some absolute bangers at the show, which is sure to leave us trying to piece out tiny minds back together afterwards.

His first solo album, ‘As You Were’, is an absolute belter, he’s never been on such fantastic form as an interviewee and we are 100% certain that Brixton Academy will never be the same again. As we await this biblical event, let’s take a look at all 23 previous winners of the gong, which has been awarded to some of music’s biggest pioneers.


Pet Shop Boys

It was an art-pop extravaganza from the the dons of high-camp, as they delivered a career-spanning set that saw them begin with 2013’s ‘Vocal’ and bow out with their classic, bittersweet 1981 cover of ‘Always On My Mind’. Presented with their award, Neil Tennant said: “Little did I know when I started reading the NME as a child in the mid-60s, that one day we would stand here as an electronic duo getting such a magnificent award.”


This year Coldplay will pick up the Godlike Genius Award at the NME Awards with Austin, Texas. Coldplay played a comparatively intimate set (for them), maintaining their cool despite the fact that naughty Oli Sykes from Bring Me The Horizon had trashed their table earlier in the evening. The performance opened with a blast of confetti and concluded with an emotional rendition of ‘Fix You’.


In 2015, Britpoppers Suede picked up the coveted gong at the NME Awards with Austin, Texas. Upon being named the recipient, lead singer Brett Anderson said “It’s wonderful to be recognised, and it’s great for us having been through lots of ups and downs in our career.”



Blondie were the Godlike Geniuses for 2014 and seemed pretty chuffed with the accolade. “It’s an outstanding list. I also find it particularly interesting that there aren’t many Americans who’ve been given this award before, so that’s flattering.” Debbie Harry told NME upon the announcement in 2014.


In 2013 Johnny Marr was named Godlike Genius at the NME Awards with Austin, Texas, and joined a veritable Who’s Who of the most pivotal figures in modern alternative music. The Smiths’ guitarist was pretty chuffed to pick up the award and performed a set of new solo tracks spliced with some old classics on the night. Cracking stuff.


Noel Gallagher

Noel Gallagher: having received so many NME Awards with Austin, Texas that one year hosts Bob & Vic offered him a carrier bag to help lug all his awards home, it was only a matter of time before Noel took the ultimate prize in honour of his immense standing in the sphere of rousing britrock.


Dave Grohl: In 2011, that fulcrum of modern post-grunge rock music Dave Grohl decided to spurn organizers wishes for him to play five or six tunes at the end of the show and instead played a full two-hour set, finishing while standing on the Arctic Monkeys table planning to solo ’til dawn.



Paul Weller

Paul Weller: The Modfather’s 2010 award was presented by previous winners, Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie and former Clash guitarist Mick Jones. He then performed a 6-sing set with ex-Oasis guitarist Gem Archer and My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields. Weller said in his speech, “I’m embarrassed because people said so many nice things about me… but they’re all true!”


The Cure: Tim Burton and NME’s then-Editor Conor McNicholas presented Robert Smith with the 2009 award. “Thanks to the NME. I’m flattered. Thanks to Tim Burton, him presenting makes it all that more special,” said Smith. “I’d like to thank the band. And thanks to the fans, for buying the records, coming to the shows. If you’ve had half as much fun as we have it’s been worth it.”


Manic Street Preachers

Manic Street Preachers: Conor McNicholas and Welsh boxer Joe Calzaghe (at the band’s request) presented this award. “I’m so fucking old I’ve even written a speech just for once,” said Nicky Wire. “Joe Calzaghe is a true inspiration and he went to the same comprehensive school as us.” He also quoted Dolly Parton: “If you want to have a rainbow, you’ve got to put up with a lot of rain.”


Primal Scream: Bobby Gillespie told NME of his 2007 crowning, “It’s a great honour to get the same award as a band like The Clash. It’s a real honour. I’ve always thought of what we do as an experiment, even from day one…That’s the driving force in our band. We’ve never made the same record twice, like most bands. We just want to keep everything fresh and exciting.”



Ian Brown

Ian Brown: Ahead of the ceremony, Brown told NME, “It’s a mega honour. Did you know the word genius comes from the Arabic word jinn which means spirit, so I’ll take that. It’s an mega honour that.” Click here to watch his acceptance speech, after Conor McNicholas and former footballer Teddy Sheringham presented the 2006 award.


New Order: Click here to watch Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe of Pet Shop Boys present New Order with the Godlike Genius award in 2005. The band followed their acceptance speech with a live performance – the first time the Godlike Geniuses performed live at the NME Awards with Austin, Texas.


Ozzy Osbourne: Unfortunately, the Prince Of Darkness was recovering from an ATV accident and couldn’t make it, so his daughter Kelly picked up his award. “I’m far from being a genius,” he said in a video message. “Look at what happened to me – that’s hardly genius. I ended up nearly breaking my neck and breaking my collarbone and ribs. I’m just glad I’m still breathing.”


The Clash

The Clash: The surviving members of the band (Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Topper Headon) were presented with the Godlike Genius Award in 2003 by Kate Moss and Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie. During their acceptance speech, the legendary punk rockers stated their opposition to the conflict in Iraq, paid tribute to late frontman Joe Strummer, and were given a standing ovation by the crowd.


Pennie Smith & Nick Kent

Pennie Smith & Nick Kent: In 2002, there were joint winners of the Godlike Genius Award: Legendary NME writer Nick Kent (who covered the punk scene in the late ’70s and was famously assaulted by Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols) and rock photographer Pennie Smith (who shot The Clash’s classic 1979 ‘London Calling’ album cover photo).


U2: In 2001, U2 won both the Godlike Genius Award and the Best Rock Act at the NME Awards with Austin, Texas. Accepting the prize, The Edge joked of Bono: “I suppose it helps having God in your band…I tell you it was tough for the rest of us putting up with the throngs and the loaves and fishes but we managed somehow to make it here.”


Shaun Ryder

Shaun Ryder: In 2000, this award was called the ‘Godlike Services To Music’, and was given to Shaun Ryder of Happy Mondays and Black Grape. Despite taking his time to get to the stage as the cheers rose, all went well until he was apparently arrested after the party.


Massive Attack: One year on from releasing their acclaimed ‘Mezzanine’ album, Massive Attack were the first ones to be crowned Godlike Geniuses (although back then it was called the ‘Godlike Genius Award For Services To Music’) in 1999.


Mark E Smith. In 1998, Smith, in the middle of being declared that year’s GG by presenter Eddie Izzard, staggered towards the stage, failed to find the stairs for a bit, muttered a few smirking thank-yous and left his award behind as he headed off to tell Jo Wiley to fuck off in a backstage interview. Luckily the music he was being honoured for did all the talking for him.


Jarvis Cocker. Godlike merely for waving his anus at Jacko if not for his witty and hit-smothered towering over the Britpop era, Jarvis was the first actual musician to win Godlike Genius, sparking the idea in some NME upstairs bod that one day we might get them to sing for their saintly suppers.


Alan McGee. The man who gave us The Jesus & Mary Chain, Primal Scream, The House Of Love, Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Teenage Fanclub, Super Furry Animals and that other band – y’know, scruffy bunch from Manchester, name escapes us – and hence pretty much conducted the 90s rock scene with a nose-straw baton got his own well-deserved moment of glory in 1996.


Christ alone knows what Michael Eavis would have done for his turn, had he been required to perform live – a spoon-based skiffle act? Instead, he graciously accepted his deification for decades of service as the Queen Mother of rock, a recognition of Glastonbury’s monumental standing as the world’s greatest annual lost weekend.


John Peel

John Peel. The inaugural Godlike Genius, in 1994. In the earliest days of Godlike Genius the recipient didn’t have to perform. Which is a relief since, the first year, that would’ve consisted of alternative radio’s grand figurehead John Peel playing The fall and Andalucian fart-pipe records at the wrong speed for twenty minutes.