David Stubbs Bio

David Stubbs is a British journalist and author, covering music, film, TV and sport.

He co-founded the magazine Monitor while at Oxford University in the early 1980s, along with Simon Reynolds, Chris Scott and Paul Oldfield. In 1986, following a stint as the world’s worst trainee chartered accountant and having rather pompously vowed he would never write for the music press in its its current fallen state, he promptly jumped at the chance to do so when invited to freelance for Melody Maker. There, he joined a new wave of writers including Simon Reynolds, who helped turned around the weekly magazine, which in terms of reputation at least overtook the then tiring NME and was quicker and bolder in showcasing the resurgent Anglo/European/American music scene of the late 80s/early 1990s. He became a full time staff member in 1987.

As well as championing the likes of The Young Gods, Butthole Surfers, AR Kane, etc in a series of front cover stories replete with recklessly Quixotic, adjective-heavy prose, and partaking in Homeric drinking sessions in some of Soho’s lowest dens with the like-minded and like-livered, Stubbs also took over the Maker’s Talk Talk Talk column, converting it from a two page gossip spread into a satirical and surreal take on the rock and pop world and those characters who stalked it, both the heroes and the hapless. Among his creations were Pepe Le Punk, a Belgian music journalist (author of Hi, I’m Mr Grunge – An Unauthorised Autobiography Of Kurt Cobain), Derek Kent, MM staff writer since 1926, wit, raconteur and pervert, Diary Of A Manic Street Preachers Fan (who admired the group for their “intense intensitude”), The Nod Corner, the fictional journals of the Fields Of The Nephilim drummer whose scheming bandmates continually got him into hot water with lead singer Carl McCoy, who would administer him the punishment of ten press-ups, while the likes of Sinead O’ Connor, Morrissey, The Mission, Andrew Eldritch, Bono and Blur were also sent up on a regular basis.

However, his most famous and beloved creation was Mr Agreeable (formerly Mr Abusing), whose weekly column was a terse exercise in unmitigated, asterisk-strafed invective scattered at all and sundry, especially the sundry, in the rock world – the various c***s, streaks of piss, f***wits, arseholes and twotmongers who raised his blood pressure often by their mere existence. Although Stubbs left Melody Maker in 1998 to work for a cross range of titles including NME, Vox and Uncut, Mr Agreeable remains an occasionally active commentator, occasionally dropping in at The Quietus to vent his ire.

Following a mid-90s stint as a Radio One scriptwriter for Alan Davies and Bill Bailey, Stubbs also branched out into broadsheet journalism, glossy magazines and writing proper books, covering a broader range of topics and so forth. Over the years, rock music would go into a gradual decline in exact line with his own personal involvement in it on a weekly basis, as so happens with rock journalists. However, Stubbs still writes about music for Uncut and The Wire. He also writes regularly for The Guardian, The Times, the BBC, The Quietus, When Saturday Comes and Men’s Health among others. From August onwards he will be co-presenting a weekly football show on Resonance FM. He is currently working on two books, including a “partial” history of the 1990s, provisionally entitled Untroubled Times.

Stubbs’s first book was about the Arsenal footballer Charlie Nicholas, written at short notice in 1997. 50,000 words in a week. Beat that for speed and quality if not quantity, fellow biographers of flamboyant Arsenal cult heroes. Since then, he has written the following . . .

SEND THEM VICTORIOUS: ENGLAND’S PATH TO GLORY 2006-2010 (zerO, 2010)

viagra for saleSince 2006, in the guise of the “Wing Commander”, Stubbs has written up reports of every England international game, in glowing and impeccably patriotic terms and with a creditable suspicion of their invariably inferior foreign opponents, remarking shrewdly on their customs, manners, morals and odours. This volume is a collection of those reports and also features his other creations including Self Righteous Liverpool fan, Hartley Sebag-Ffiennes, snobby Arsenal supporter, Hugh McLaughton, broadsheet journalist and the truly disgusting Inappropriate Championship Manager. Described as “the funniest book about football ever written” by The Guardian’s Scott Murray and “painfully funny” by novelist Warren Ellis.

JIMI HENDRIX: THE STORIES BEHIND EVERY SONG (Carlton, 2010)

buy viagraFirst published in 2003, this self-explanatory volume is reissued in September 2010 to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Hendrix’s death.

FEAR OF MUSIC: WHY PEOPLE GET ROTHKO BUT DON’T GET STOCKHAUSEN (zerO, 2009)

The Tate Modern, dedicated  principally to non-figurative, abstract, conceptual art from the 20th century onwards, is one of Europe’s biggest tourist attractions. Original works by artists like Picasso, Rothko, Pollock, despite their avant garde audacity, sell for millions. The 20th century equivalent of such “difficult” art, however, is not similarly lavished with attention or high financial reward, even though both derive from the same root. Fear Of Music seeks to examine why this is the case. David Stubbs has delivered lectures based on this book in, among other places, London, Berlin, and last but not least, Harrogate (the 2010 Fringe Festival)

THE ATHEIST’S GUIDE TO CHRISTMAS (Harper Collins 2009)

Stubbs contributed an essay to this bestselling and highly praised compilation of essays by prominent nonbelievers, including Richard Dawkins, AC Grayling, Simon LeBon, Charlie Brooker, David Baddiel, Simon Price and Andrew Mueller. His was entitled Imagine There’s A Heaven and remarked upon the feasibility, even the desirability of such a place. The collection was edited by Ariane Sherine, with proceeds going to the Terence Higgins Trust.

KRAUTROCK: COSMIC ROCK AND ITS LEGACY (Black Dog, 2009)

Stubbs wrote the introduction and several entries in this lavish and comprehensive guide to the highly influential German music scene of the 1970s, treated with either condescension or hardly at all by the British music press at the time but now regarded as highly influential and revived in its own right.

ACE RECORDS: LABELS UNLIMITED (Black Dog, 2008)

A history of the legendary reissues label, which derived from the proto-punk Chiswick Records imprint of the late 70s, featuring interviews with all the major players.

“Stubbs interviews just about everybody involved with a passion equal to that which fuels the label itself.” –Mojo Magazine

”Stubbs’s subtle and engaging chronicle of the Ace history is scholarly yet balanced and by the end of this evocative tale you cannot help but raise a glass and utter three cheers for the company and all involved.” –Shindig Magazine

TOMORROW’S WORLD: GENIUS GADGETS AND GIZMOS (Ebury, 2008)

There is a disparity between the 21st century as promised in the heyday of the BBC’s most popular science programme in its heyday and the reality. Jetpacks, revolving kitchens, flying cars and domestic robots have failed to materialise. This volume looks back at some of the often hilariously inaccurate prognoses proposed by the show, and sees how they compare with the future now that it has finally arrived.

EMINEM: THE STORIES BEHIND EVERY SONG (Carlton, 2003)


CHARLIE NICHOLAS: THE ADVENTURES OF CHAMPAGNE CHARLIE (Boxtree, 1997)

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