The 70s undoubtedly marked the Golden Age of underground music zines cataloguing subcultural movements. Without an avalanche of Tumblr accounts offering endless information on what your favourite band is wearing.
Soundcloud recommendations about who to listen to next, or Twitter documenting your most-loved guitar player’s childhood fear, publications such as the pioneering DIY zine Sniffin’ Glue and groupie-focused Star found their way into the eager hands of music fans around the world. To celebrate a simpler time, here is our rundown of the five most iconic underground zines you might not have heard of, and where you can read them.
Starting off this list with the OG of all zines, Sniffin’ Glue was the first publication to chronicle punk from an insider’s point of view. Created in the UK in 1976, right after editor Mark Perry (who was a bank clerk at the time) watched a Ramones concert, Sniffin’ Glue’s haphazard DIY style, with felt-tip titles, shabby grammar, swear words and informal writing paved the way for the many punk zines that followed.
Submitting to the movement’s idea of creating your own culture and rejecting the old, it did not subscribe to any traditional forms of publishing, and in fact was closed down after only 14 issues due to fear of becoming incorporated into the mainstream music press. Unfortunately, it is not catalogued online – but if you’re London-based, you can check out the full archive at the London College of Communication’s zine library.
Considered scandalous at the time, 1973’s LA-based Star magazine was aimed at teenage girls and chronicled the lives of the decade’s most iconic groupies, from Sable Starr to the hyper-controversial Sunset Strip “baby groupies”.
With a manifesto that could almost be called feminist, the first issue opened riddled with angry letters from teachers and parents – one of them surprised the magazine “didn’t come wrapped in plain brown paper” as a porn magazine would – to which the editorial team answered: “How about letting Arkansas’ girls decide about Star?” It even featured a commentator that could’ve come straight from 2016, who stated that men like him don’t like this “Women’s Lib baloney” that the magazine advocates. Referring to their readers as Foxy Ladies (also a name used for baby groupies).
Star never undermined their pheromone-ridden teen readers, and featured plenty of pictures of a young Mick Jagger, alongside comic strips of fantasy scenarios, for example where a fan dresses up as glam rock icon Marc Bolan to get backstage. With five printed issues painstakingly collected and digitalized, you can access the whole archive here.
Ray Dorset fronts which group whose name was inspired by a poem from T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats?
Quiz Around Music
“Knock, Knock Who’s There?” was originally sung and recorded by which Welsh singer as the United Kingdom’s entry at the 1970 Eurovision Song Contest?
Which American funk rock band is best known for their song “Play That Funky Music”?
In 1975, the Carpenters had a hit with a remake of which Marvelettes’ chart-topping 1961 single?
Which song topped the UK Singles Chart for nine weeks in the summer of 1978?
Which pop rock band in the 1970s were known as the “tartan teen sensations from Edinburgh”?
Which group released the album Quadrophenia in 1973?
During the early 1970s, which group had twelve consecutive R&B top ten hits, including “Stop, Look, Listen” and “You Are Everything”?
“Three Times a Lady” is a song by which American soul group from their 1978 album Natural High?
ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 in which British city?
Which American country singer sang with Conway Twitty many times during the 1970s and had a hit with “After the Fire Is Gone”?
The Spiders from Mars were which singer’s backing band in the early 1970s?
Which ballad performed by Elton John is also the title track on his 1973 album?
Who released the song “What’s Going On” in 1971?
Can you name the debut album by English musician and composer Mike Oldfield?
“Kung Fu Fighting” is a disco song by which vocalist?
Answers can be found on any search internet engine at any time; but try without just for fun.