The Founding Fathers

On June 05, 2023
By Hit Parader
Historians often attribute the birth of contemporary music journalism happening somewhere around 1966 with either Melody Maker or Crawdaddy, but forays into critical music reporting began much earlier around the Hit Parader campus during the hysteria of “Beatlemania.” With years of combined staff knowledge, Hit Parader was among the first group of magazines to publish articles alongside photos about new rock music that combined serious analysis with a different kind of fan-oriented writing.

The seismic shift into Hit Parader’s worthier words on pop music is remembered fondly by former Hit Parader editor, Jim Delehant.

“In 1962, I answered a newspaper ad for a music editor at a Charlton Publication (Hit Parader). I started working there right away. From that time until '64, the only source of information used to create articles came from record company bios and from publicity material. In 1964 the Beach Boys and Beatles changed everything suddenly. Other groups were happening — Byrds, Baez, Dylan, Donovan, etc. I hooked up a tape recorder to my phone and started interviewing. Now it was exciting!”

Rock’s first alleged Photojournalist, Don Paulsen, also recalls his time working at Hit Parader in 1964.

 “Hit Parader was the only consumer publication in those days to provide in-depth coverage of the popular music scene, and remained so until the introduction of Rolling Stone in late 1967. With a monthly circulation of nearly 200,000, and a readership close to one million, each month, dozens of articles about recording artists and trends needed to be written. I’d never even heard the word ‘photojournalist.’ Years later, friends told me that’s what I was.”  

Progressing beyond the ‘60s as a mouthpiece for the British Invasion and countercultural movements like Psychedelia, the explosion into 1970s rock journalism would lead Hit Parader into an iconic time of high-brow opinions mashed furiously on tour bus typewriters in low-level conditions. Hit Parader again morphed with the times in another new era with a fresh coat of paint and a savvy New York City editing staff that employed legendary writers and photographers Lisa Robinson, Lenny Kaye, Legs McNeil, Patti Smith, Bob Gruen, Nick Kent, and Lester Bangs.

Additional contributors throughout the decade included Nick Logan, Barbara Charone, John Ingham, and Alan Betrock. 

During this period, editor Lisa Robinson began leading Hit Parader in the direction of new wave music and punk, traveling to England four times a year to interview The Clash and positioning Hit Parader to be on the cutting edge of what was latered referred to as "the whole Avant-Garde, New Wave movement". As well as shining a light on emerging acts like Blondie, Sex Pistols, and Ramones, during the 1970s, Hit Parader frequently covered hard rock acts such as Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, David Bowie, The Who, Cheap Trick, Kiss, and Van Halen. 

While working among the most pivotal literary voices of the 1970s decade and showcasing emerging talent, Hit Parader would also provide musicians and artists with a powerful voice beyond their own recordings as occasional features granted rare opportunities for acts and bands to write about themselves in established print. 

Whether it was Frank Zappa reviewing The Mothers, Joe Strummer & Mick Jones penning “The Clash Story,” or Sam Cooke citing his personal thoughts on The Beatles just months before his death, through trust and ingenuity Hit Parader cemented itself through fresh ideas and ample coverage of multiple acts and genres as a music magazine unafraid of the new frontier. 


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