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John Oxley Library

Whatever happened to Queensland rock magazine Backstage?

By JOL Admin | 12 June 2016

In July 1980, Backstage, a Queensland rock music magazine published its first edition. Valued at 40 cents, Backstage was modelled after successful rock music magazines of the period, such as UK's NME and Melody Maker and the Sydney based Rock Australia Magazine (RAM).

Queensland rock monthly magazine Backstage. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Queensland rock monthly magazine Backstage. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

The publication was the brainchild of Graham Aisthorpe, who came up with the concept whilst attending a Flowers concert at Cloudland in November 1979. Aisthorpe felt that Queensland's music scene was ignored by rock magazines published in the southern states. He also wanted Backstage to be more than just Brisbane focused by bringing music news from regional Queensland to a wider audience.

Editorial from the first edition of Backstage, July 1980

Editorial from the first edition of Backstage, July 1980

The magazine featured reviews of live concerts ("Onstage"), recently released LP's and 45's ("Backtrax"), films, and a gossip column ("Backstab"). The first edition featured an interview with the Go-Betweens Robert Forster as well as a feature article on Brisbane group Zero.

Brisbane student newspaper Semper announced the arrival of Backstage in their 24 July 1980 edition and reported that the new mag caused a stir.

"The backlash from the first issue was intriguing: it's obvious that Brisbane people are unused to criticism or even snide comment in print. One band member arrived at Graham Aisthorpe's flat hours after copies hit the streets, hysterical because Backstage had labelled him a paranoid. Another band was threatening physical violence because of a bad review. And "Backstab" had a few people huffing after very mild comments".

Sadly it appears Backstage had a very short print run. David Nichols in his book The Go-Betweens describes the magazine as "short-lived".

State Library of Queensland discovered two lone editions of Backstage in a recent donation. This is an exciting discovery, however we would love to track down all editions of Backstage. Can you help us? Do you have any copies this magazine gathering dust at home? By donating to SLQ you will help to preserve this magazine for future generations. If you have any issues of Backstage and would like to donate them, please contact our Queensland Content Co-Ordinator, Catherine Blanchfield via email or leave a comment on this blog post.

SLQ is also interested in collecting other materials from Queensland's music scene including old concert tickets, flyers for nightclubs or bands, posters, stickers, photographs, recordings, films, videos, letters and other memorabilia. Even the smallest donation can be valuable.

Myles Sinnamon - Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland


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