Smash Hits: The greatest hits

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     Tom Hibbert 'Got lots of hate mail'

    The writer: Tom Hibbert

    ‘Did I invent Smash Hits lingo? It sounds like I’m blowing my own trumpet but yes, I did. Before I got there in 1983 there was none of that. It was rather boring, I thought. There were quite a lot of ‘sniiips!’, weren’t there? All the knighthoods – Sir Billiom of Idol, Lord Lucan of Mercury: they were my idea.

    ‘Margaret Thatcher was my trickiest interview. Going in, at any rate. After that she was absolutely bloody marvellous; she was so dotty, going on about Adam Faith as if anyone in this day and age would remember who he was. Apart from her it was Kate Bush, who turned quite savage and saw every single question as stupid, not just the ones that were supposed to be stupid. You know, ‘What’s your latest album about?’ She thought that was stupid. She was really horrible to me. She didn’t like being Kate ‘Hello earth, hello trees, hello sky’ Bush [Smash Hits’ nickname for her]. She didn’t think that was at all amusing.

    ‘My interview technique was to keep a straight face and embarrass people into answering the questions. If there was a long silence, I’d stay silent too. It seemed to work, although Boy George once threatened to beat me up. He was a very large fellow so that was quite frightening. He’s even larger now, ha ha! Then there was that ghastly chap Ringo Starr. He threw me out of his hotel room!

    ‘I’m afraid I don’t know why Smash Hits was so successful. It always surprised me when we were selling half a million copies or whatever it was. I suppose kids have a greater sense of humour than one realises. Did I get fan mail? No, but I got lots of hate mail.’

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     Green Gartside 'Tonnes of make-up'

    The pop star: Green Gartside

    ‘I remember doing a feature where you were photographed with your favourite stuff and I turned up with a pair of red boots I’d got from an army store in Leeds and a book on Duchamp or Joseph Beuys or something ridiculous. It was the usual thing, tonnes of make-up and, er… yeah. Yikes! I remember winning a hat in a Smash Hits competition which, I heard many years later, I was the only person to enter. It was a giant TommyBoy promotional white nylon ski-cap kind of thing, as favoured by B-boys at the time. This was after I was – in inverted commas – famous. Why didn’t I just call the office and ask for one? It would never have occurred to me!

    ‘The irreverence and piss-taking I liked in theory; though in practice I found it a bit camp and vapid. But I was desperate to be in it, as was everybody else. Our management and record company were always telling us how important it was to get in Smash Hits so I suppose it must have made a big difference to record sales. Its power was faintly intimidating. We had a lot of fun with the journalists, though. The interviews would go on for hours and very often would take in dinner and maybe a club after that. There was lots of gossip and drink and whatever else. I remember in one drunken interview making a disparaging remark about my father, who I hadn’t seen for many years, and regretting it very much.

    ‘I’ve got a load of old Smash Hits in the attic. Not just issues I’m in, either. They’re in pristine condition if anybody wants them.’

    ‘The Best of Smash Hits: The’80s’ is published by Sphere at £14.99

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