Friday 1 March 2024

Sniffin’ Glue: And Other Rock ‘n’ Roll Habits

In July 1976, Glam Rock fan and Bank Clerk Mark Perry was wandering his favourite record stores when he asked at the Rock On Stall in Soho Market if they had any magazines about this new “Punk thing” he’d been reading about in the NME – his interest piqued by the first Ramones album, The Flamin’ Groovies at the Roundhouse, and the spying of familiar faces at Gigs.

The Rock On Stall had nothing to offer other than an American publication, but nothing about what was clearly happening in London.
The man on the stall – half-jokingly – suggested that he start one himself if he can’t find what he was looking for. So that’s just what he did – he returned to his bedroom in Deptford, armed himself with a ream of paper, a cheap typewriter, and some felt tip pins and produced Issue 1 of Sniffin’ Glue.
He went back to Rock On with the 50 copies he’d photocopied, and to his surprise they sold and Rock On gave him some money to produce more.

Issue 1 was pieced together on enthusiasm and adrenaline, rather than a journalistic ideal. And it was this DIY style that appealed and gave the confidence to produce more – not on a regular basis, but as and when the moment took him.

One thing to note: at the time of publication, they were few bands about and even fewer records – Issue 1 featured 2 pages reviewing Blue Oyster Cult albums.

By Issue 2, Mark Perry had been invited, along with Caroline Coon (Melody Maker) and Jonh Ingham (Sounds) to Eddie & The Hot Rods gigs, travelling in the back of their van.
He got to see the Sex Pistols at the 100 Club, and as Sniffin’ Glues reputation spread, Brian James asked to be on the cover of the next issue and offered The Damned up for interview. 3 issues in, and they’re getting exclusive access already.
Just after Issue 4 in October 1976, Sniffin’ Glue moved from a Deptford bedroom to a backroom at the Rough Trade shop, and then onto office space provided by Miles Copeland, who also gave Mark Perry his own record label.

From 50 hand made copies to quitting his job at the bank inside 3 months. He also roped in 2 friends to help with the scribbling and reviewing – Steve Mick and Danny Baker – and Sniffin’ Glue became a job, rather than something knocked up cheaply and flogged off quickly.

Sniffin’ Glue was now a mainstay of the scene, and even started to take on advertising – mostly from Rock On and Chiswick Records, but also offering advance membership of the (yet to open) Roxy in Covent Garden.
The style was becoming more confident, the content richer, more photos and more (freebie) records to review, and still for the bargain price of 30p

Issue 12 was the last, appearing some 14 months after the first issue (Note: although nominally Issue 12, it was actually Issue 15 as the had been 3½, 7½, and a Christmas Special (Sniffin’ Snow). The final print run was 20,000 copies. What started as a mouthpiece for enthusiasm, was becoming a commercial enterprise, and Sniffin’ Glue – although the first – was now just one of many fanzines competing for attention.
Better to end it while it was still “fun” – and the perfect opportunity to promote your next venture by sticking a flexi-disc of your new band Alternative TV on the cover.

This book (first published in 2000, re-published in 2009, and now available again) collects together all those issues, and through the pages one can see the rise and fall (or should that be disillusionment?) of Punk from it’s DIY, small scene London-centric beginnings, ending (I think) presciently before both Punk and Sniffin’ Glue became a bloated parody.

One of the last items written is from Danny Baker expressing annoyance with the cheering reaction from the crowd when the DJ at The Vortex announced that Elvis Presley had died.

What is surprising about the book is that what on the face off it essentially a disposal artefact has now been preserved. One can only assume that the copies are drawn from Mark Perry’s Master copies as it’s unlikely that any of the purchased copies survived and probably ended up littering the floors of The Roxy and The Vortex, or floating in the wind down Wardour Street.

Learning point: Don’t go looking for the “Here’s chord, here’s another, here’s a third – now form a band” headline. That was another fanzine – Sideburns – in January 1977, but is attributed to Sniffin’ Glue – so much so, you can buy a t-shirt with the Sniffin’ Glue headline, and the picture from Sideburns.


  1. As someone who spent much of my youth producing photocopied comics and fanzines, I appreciated this post a lot.

    Never made it to 20,000 copies though...

    1. Interesting Rol. Could there be a new blog series coming?

  2. Great post. I remember how SG seemed to become legendary very quickly. A sadly now departed friend of mine who lived in London back then and went to a some of those early gigs kept a hold of his original copies for many years and it was brilliant to actually see them in the flesh, so to speak. He did end up selling them (for rather a lot). But I suppose they had served their purpose, giving him pleasure at the time he got them, but so of the moment - never intended to be up as stored away in a dusty suitcase in the loft!

    1. Not all lost to the four breezes then. I commend him for keeping them (I would've done the same).