Charles Shaar Murray

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Charles Shaar Murray
Born Charles Maximillian Murray
(1951-06-27) 27 June 1951 (age 67)
Reading, Berkshire, England
Nationality British
Education Reading School
Occupation Journalist, writer, broadcaster
Years active 1970–present
Employer Guitarist

Charles Shaar Murray (born Charles Maximillian Murray on 27 June 1951) is an English music journalist and broadcaster. He has worked on the New Musical Express and many other magazines and newspapers, and has been interviewed for a number of television documentaries and reports on music.[1]


Murray grew up in Reading, Berkshire, England,[2] where he attended Reading School and learnt to play the harmonica and guitar. His first experience in journalism came in 1970, when he was one of a number of schoolchildren who responded to an invitation to edit the April issue of the satirical magazine Oz. He thus contributed to the notorious Schoolkids OZ issue and was involved in the consequent obscenity trial.[1][2]

He then wrote for IT (International Times), before moving to the New Musical Express in 1972[3][4] for which he wrote until around 1986. He subsequently worked for a number of publications including Q magazine, Mojo, MacUser, New Statesman, Prospect, The Guardian, The Observer, The Daily Telegraph, Vogue, and The Independent. He currently[when?] writes a monthly column about his lifelong love affair with guitars in Guitarist magazine.

In April 2016, Murray was one of 82 Jewish members and supporters of the Labour Party and of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership who wrote an open letter to The Guardian stating that they "do not accept that antisemitism is 'rife' in the Labour party" and that "these accusations are part of a wider campaign against the Labour leadership, and they have been timed particularly to do damage to the Labour party and its prospects in elections in the coming week."[5]


In addition to his magazine work, Murray has written a number of books.

  • David Bowie: An Illustrated Record (1981), with Roy Carr, ISBN 0-906008-25-5
  • Crosstown Traffic: Jimi Hendrix and Post-War Pop (1989), a musical biography of Jimi Hendrix, ISBN 0-571-20749-9; won the Ralph Gleason Music Book Award
  • Shots From The Hip (1991), ISBN 0-14-012341-5, selected writings from his first two decades as a journalist
  • Blues on CD: The Essential Guide (1993), ISBN 1-85626-084-4
  • Boogie Man: Adventures of John Lee Hooker in the American 20th Century (1999), a biography of John Lee Hooker, ISBN 0-14-016890-7; shortlisted for the Gleason award.


His broadcasting credits include:

  • "The Seven Ages of Rock" (BBC2, 2007) as series consultant and interviewee
  • "The South Bank Show" (ITV, 2006) Dusty Springfield – interviewee
  • "Inky Fingers: The NME Story" (BBC2, 2005) – interviewee
  • "Dancing in the Street" (BBC2) – series consultant
  • "Jazz From Hell: Frank Zappa" (BBC Radio 3) writer and presenter[6]
  • "Punk Jazz: Jaco Pastorius" (BBC R3) writer and presenter
  • "The Life and Crimes of Lenny Bruce" (BBC R3) writer and presenter


Murray also sang and played guitar and harmonica as Blast Furnace in the band Blast Furnace and the Heatwaves and currently[when?] performs with London blues band Crosstown Lightnin'.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Charles Shaar Murray at rock's backpages library". Retrieved 26 May 2013.
  2. ^ a b "I was an Oz schoolkid". The Guardian. 2 August 2001. Retrieved 7 February 2011.
  3. ^ "A tale of two rock critics". The Guardian. 20 October 2000. Retrieved 7 February 2011.
  4. ^ "NME: Still rocking at 50". BBC. 24 February 2002. Retrieved 7 February 2011.
  5. ^ "Labour, antisemitism and where Jeremy Corbyn goes from here". The Guardian. 29 April 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  6. ^ "Jazz from Hell". BBC Radio 3. 12 June 2004. Retrieved 7 February 2011.

External links

  • Official website
  • Professional biography
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