Charles Shaar Murray

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.


Murray grew up in Reading, Berkshire, England, 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.

He then wrote for IT (International Times), before moving to the New Musical Express in 1972 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 writes a monthly column about his lifelong love affair with guitars in Guitarist magazine.


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

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

  • The Hellhound Sample (2011),


    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
  • "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 performs with London blues band Crosstown Lightnin'.