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Paul Morley

Paul Morley
Paul Morley (left) with Chris Austin, in rehearsal for Morley's "Yet another example of the porousness of certain borders" at the Royal Academy of Music
Background information
Birth name Paul Robert Morley
Born (1957-03-26) 26 March 1957
Farnham, Surrey, England, UK
Occupation(s) Journalist, writer, music producer
Associated acts Art of Noise, Infantjoy

Paul Robert Morley[1] (born 26 March 1957) is an English music journalist. He wrote for the New Musical Express from 1977 to 1983 and has since written for a wide range of publications. He has also been a band manager and promoter as well as a television presenter.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Cultural references 4
  • Bibliography 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life

Morley was born in Farnham, Surrey,[2] and moved with his family to Eccles, Lancashire, before starting school.[3] He was educated at Stockport Grammar School, at the time a direct grant grammar school, and the Royal Academy of Music.


Morley wrote for three Manchester area magazines in the late 1970s, Penetration, Out There and Girl Trouble.[4] He then went on to write for NME, where he and colleagues such as Ian Penman developed an innovative style of music criticism that drew on critical theory and other non-musical sources.[5]

For a period of time, Morley produced and managed Manchester punk band the Drones.[6] However, he first came to wider attention with a brief appearance in the video for ABC's "The Look of Love" (in which he mimes the words "what's that?" in a call-and-response routine with singer Martin Fry), but he achieved notoriety as co-founder, with Trevor Horn, of ZTT Records and electronic group Art of Noise.

Morley is credited with steering the marketing and promotion of the phenomenal early success of ZTT's biggest act, Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Although it has never been confirmed, it is claimed that Morley authored the provocative slogans on the band's T-shirts (e.g. "Frankie Say Arm the Unemployed", "Frankie Say War! Hide Yourself").

He was the first presenter of BBC Two's The Late Show, and has appeared as a music pundit on a number of other programmes. For the short-lived Channel 4 arts strand Without Walls he wrote and presented a documentary on boredom. Morley regularly appeared on BBC's The Review Show.

He was the focus of BBC Two's How to Be a Composer, in which he spent a year at the Royal Academy of Music attempting to learn to compose classical music, despite being unable to read music or play an instrument.

Morley is the author of Words and Music: the history of pop in the shape of a city. The book is a journey through the history of pop; it seeks to trace the connection between Alvin Lucier's experimental audio recording,"I am sitting in a room" and Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out of My Head". A synthetic Kylie features as the central character of the book. The book was later turned into the hour-long epic musical track "Raiding the 20th Century" by DJ Food, which features Morley reading from his book and speculating on the cultural significance of the mashup, amidst the sounds of those very mashups.

His other books include Ask: The Chatter of Pop (a collection of his music journalism) and Nothing, concerning his father's suicide and that of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis and such unhappy experience as the time Morley spent at Stockport Grammar School.

Morley teamed up with the Auteurs' James Banbury to form the band Infantjoy and in 2005 released an album entitled Where the Night Goes on Sony BMG. With, an album featuring collaborations with Tunng, Isan and other musicians, was released in October 2006 on Morley and Banbury's own label ServiceAV.

Morley is a lifelong fan of the jazz musician John Surman and conducted an interview with the artist for The Guardian newspaper.[7]

Personal life

Morley was married to Claudia Brücken with whom he has a daughter.[8]

He is the brother of filmmaker Carol Morley.[9]

Cultural references

The Cure played a version of their song "Grinding Halt", retitled for that performance as "Desperate Journalist in Ongoing Meaningful Review Situation", on the John Peel radio show,[10] with new lyrics parodying Morley's writing style after an unfavourable review of their debut album Three Imaginary Boys.


  • Ask: The Chatter of Pop (1986)
  • Nothing (2000)
  • Words and Music: A History of Pop in the Shape of a City (2004)
  • Joy Division: Piece by Piece: Writing About Joy Division 1977-2007 (2007)
  • Joy Division: Fragments (with Christel Derenne) (2009)
  • The North (And Almost Everything In It (2013)[11]
  • Earthbound (2013) [12]
  • I'll Never Write My Memoirs by Grace Jones (with Paul Morley) (2015)


  1. ^ "Paul Morley, Esq Authorised Biography". Debrett's People of Today. 1957-03-26. Retrieved 2014-08-22. 
  2. ^ "Results for England & Wales Births 1837-2006 - Paul R Morley". Retrieved 2014-08-22. 
  3. ^ Morley, Paul (2013). The North: (And Almost Everything in It). Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 187.  
  4. ^
  5. ^ frieze
  6. ^ The Drones' band biography at Allmusic
  7. ^ 26 March 2010The Guardian"... John Surman" Retrieved 11 October 2011
  9. ^ "Profile: Carol Morley". The List. Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  10. ^ "The Quietus - News - LISTEN: Desperate Journalist - Organ". The Quietus. Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  11. ^ Sarah Crompton (2 July 2013). "The North (And Almost Everything In It) by Paul Morley, review". Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  12. ^ "Paperback reivew: Earthbound, By Paul Morely". The Independent. Retrieved 4 July 2015. 

External links

  • Morley and Banbury's virtual record label
  • Infantjoy official homepage
  • Paul Morley discography at Discogs
  • Paul Morley on John Peel
  • Nothing – extended review/meditation on Paul Morley's book by Dave Haslam
  • Paul Morley on
  • Raiding The 20th Century featuring Paul Morley and a cast of thousands
  • Zang Tuum Tumb and all that
  • Paul Morley Interview 1999
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