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Long-serving NME Stalwart Passes Away

April 27, 2009 | People
Derek Johnson, who worked on NME from 1957-86, has passed away aged 81. Johnson began contributing to NME shortly after its launch in 1952 and joined the staff full-time in 1957, leaving his post as programming director at Radio Luxembourg to do so.

He worked as features editor and news editor, writing prolifically for all sections of the paper. In 1960 he flew to Germany to interview Elvis Presley. The two men became friends and he interviewed Presley on several further occasions, even staying, on the singer's invitation, at Graceland.

For many years he wrote the paper's singles reviews, rounding up each week's new releases in a crisp, descriptive style, and had an uncanny ability to spot a hit.

He was born on January 17, 1928 in London and died on April 22 in Exeter.
japio wrote on April 28, 2009
rest in peace Derek.
I am Buffalo-Horn! wrote on April 28, 2009
Derek was always fair to Elvis & we looked forward to his contibutions. For many years the NME was a vital read for us fans, with good articles mainly by Derek & also Chris Hutchins. (Yes, I know Mr Hutchins' Radio Times article a few years ago was complete fabrication, but at one time he too was good) Why does the NME not produce a book of all their Elvis reports? Until we had a recent fire I had a collection of their Elvis pages from 1958 until 1980, stored in my loft, & a lot of these clippings were extremely interesting. I believe the NME have produced similar books for other artists, so why not Elvis? Anyone out there got any influence at the NME?
Brian Quinn wrote on April 28, 2009
The NME used to be very pro Elvis up until around 1971 when the ownership changed hands and Maurice Kinn, the Editor, retired. I will always remember Maurice's review of Elvis' 1961 Hawaii Benefit Show which he attended.
Deke Rivers 6 wrote on April 29, 2009
Was it a good reveiw Brian ? R.I.P. Derek
Brian Quinn wrote on April 29, 2009
Deke, It was good as far as it goes but Maurice stated he could hardly hear Elvis for the screams.
I am Buffalo-Horn! wrote on April 30, 2009
I do remember Maurice Kinn saying in his review that one of the songs Elvis sang was called "Something Blues"! He certainly didn't sing "Something Blue" so I guess Maurice got the song title wrong. A couple of years ago I finally got into The Bloch Arena where this concert took place & the building, inside the Pearl Harbour military complex in Oahu, has hardly changed at all. The stage was only temporary, but you still can see exactly where Elvis sang!