Q Magazine has closed its doors after 30 years of service, due to the ongoing effects of COVID-19 and the ailing print media industry.
The music mag has produced in-depth interviews with some of rock’s most established performers. Its first edition, released in June 1986, featured Paul McCartney on the cover. Artists such as Radiohead, Oasis, U2, Kate Bush, R.E.M. and Madonna made frequent appearances on its front page.
In recent years, it has struggled against the tide as many other print magazines succumb to dwindling sales. However, it still provided top-quality content, including exclusive interviews with Lana Del Rey, Christine and the Queens, and Kanye West.
As we mourn the loss of another great magazine, we’ve compiled ten of Q Magazine’s most unforgettable moments, from insulting an ex-Beatle to a certain frontman announcing his obsession with a cartoon fish…
Ringo through the wringer
Ringo Starr has something of a prickly side – who can forget his bizarre order of no more fan mail in 2008?
Before that, though, the former Beatle gave a Q journalist particularly short shrift during a terse interview in 1992.
Promoting his not-bad-for-a-Ringo-Starr record Time Takes Time, Ringo became enraged when the interviewer naturally focused on asking questions that revolved more around, well, Revolver.
“You’re living in the bloody past,” Starr eventually snapped. “This is an actual bloody legend in front of you. I’m not expecting you to comb the bloody legend’s hair but you could at least mention the new album.”
Mark E Smith and his incredible bladder
The late Fall frontman was known for two things during interviews – his withering and unpredictable putdowns, and his fondness for the drink. In his final interview with Q Magazine in 2015, he expressed both.
The interview’s most surprising revelation has to be that, despite multiple hours of double whiskey and Peroni chasers, the curmudgeonly Mancunian didn’t need a single bathroom break.
Madonna’s bawdy book club
At the turn of the nineties, Madonna was at the peak of her fame. A bona-fide pop star and sex symbol, to boot, her exclusive ten-page interview with Q Magazine in 1991 saw her stamp out some rumours about her personal life.
“Everybody thinks I’m a nymphomaniac,” she said. “Honestly, I would just rather read a book.” Q, sadly, failed to ask what novels graced Madge’s coffee table.
Terence Trent D’Arby bares all
Allegedly, Q Magazine had always wanted someone to appear on their cover with, well, no cover. They just couldn’t find anyone “bonkers” enough. Enter the fleeting pop genius of Terence Trent D’Arby.
The singer appeared totally starkers on the cover of Q in 1993, promoting the critically acclaimed album Symphony or Damn.
“If the Gods put on a spread for you and you don’t eat it, nothing pisses them off more,” D’Arby cryptically, and confusingly, says in the interview. “Most people think that I’m a nutter,” he later adds. Appropriately.
Katie Melua’s spiritual birdwatching
When Q Magazine was invited to join Georgian-British chanteuse Katie Melua in the forest, they probably imagined a quaint amble amongst the trees. Instead, the meeting went a little differently…
Melua and the intrepid Q interviewer attempted to track down a few endangered birds. Later, she regaled the mag with tales of leylines and spirituality from the trees. Hmm, maybe this was the ‘Closest Thing To Crazy’ Q had ever seen…
Lady Gaga goes topless
Anything Terence Trent D’Arby can do…Lady Gaga went topless for a particularly racy Q Magazine cover in 2010.
The cover, which saw Gaga hide her modesty with gloves, was banned in America. Within the mag, the ‘Poker Face’ star discussed her fight against what the public expected of her.
“I get criticized for being arrogant. If you’re sure of yourself as a woman, they say you’re a bitch. However, if you’re a man and you’re strong-willed, it’s normal,” she said.
Shane MacGowan’s wandering ciggie
Inviting Shane MacGowan, the legendarily lush behind Irish punks The Pogues, to an alcohol-filled awards ceremony was always going to be a recipe for disaster.
It would be a particularly hair-raising experience for Bono.
The U2 frontman and Noel Gallagher were having a photo with MacGowan when the latter’s errant ciggie almost saw Bono’s barnet catch ablaze. Talk about The Unforgettable Fire…
Liam Gallagher is the ‘Salmon King’
The Gallagher brothers have provided many memorable quotes to Q over the years.
The standout has to be one of Oasis’ final interviews, conducted towards the end of 2008. Not only did Liam Gallagher sport a hairdo that resembled Joan Of Arc, he had also developed a new penchant for cooking.
“I am the Salmon King – stand back!” he exclaimed, before continuing the fishy theme by expressing his newfound love of SpongeBob Squarepants.
“SpongeBob is a mental, full-of-beans, enthusiastic sponge that lives at the bottom of the sea in Bikini Bottom. He’s mad for it,” he beamed, before comparing SpongeBob’s grumpy mate Squidward to – yep – “our kid”.
Sting can just keep on going
Three things that instantly spring to mind when you think of Sting. 1). The lute album. 2). The strange nappy he wore in sci-fi flop Dune. 3). His love of tantric – i.e. longggggg – sex.
You can, erm, thank Q Magazine for revealing number three.
The magazine brought together Sting and fellow scraggly-haired troubadour Bob Geldof for booze-fuelled banter. At some point, it became public knowledge that Sting could “go at it for hours”. They weren’t talking about his bass playing, either…
PJ Harvey, Tori Amos and Bjork spill the tea
Getting three of alternative rock’s most unique and talented songwriters together, over tea and biscuits, was one of Q Magazine’s masterstrokes.
PJ Harvey, Tori Amos and Bjork set the world to rights, including how to deal with hecklers (Harvey spending many gigs batting away cruel shouts of “fuck off back to Yeovil”).
Words by Sam Lambeth