Rock's Backpages

< back to list of all episodes

Episode 63 : Neil Tennant on Smash Hits + Pet Shop Boys + Andy Weatherall

21 February 2020

In this week's episode, Mark & Barney invite the ever-entertaining Neil Tennant to look back on his time at Smash Hits magazine — and explain how he became pop's ultimate poacher-turned-gamekeeper.

Neil talks about mid-'70s London and about interviewing a pudgy Marc Bolan for Marvel UK. He recalls the laughter and irreverence of his 1982-85 stint at Smash Hits before the Pet Shop Boys shot to No. 1 in Britain and then America. After hearing clips of himself speaking to Steven Daly in 1996, he attempts to explain the longevity of the PSBs but takes issue with the term "national treasure".

Mark & Barney pay tribute to the late Andrew Weatherall as we hear a clip of the legendary DJ/producer/remixer talking to DJ History's Bill Brewster in 2009. Neil offers his perspective on the evolution of the UK's club culture through the '90s, then pitches in as Mark guides us through highlights of the week's new library additions. Discussion follows on Hawkwind's topless dancer Stacia, Michael Watts' 1976 dinner with Laura Nyro and the 10th anniversary of Manchester's Haçienda club…

Many thanks to our very special guest; details of the Pet Shop Boys’ new album Hotspot and upcoming tour are available via The new editions of Chris Heath’s Pet Shop Boys, Literally and Pet Shop Boys versus America are published by Heinemann and out on March 19th.

The Rock's Backpages podcast is proud to be part of the Pantheon podcast network.