The paper began in 1952 after the Musical Express was bought by London music promoter Maurice Kinn and relaunched as the NME. It grew up alongside rock music and was for many years the rival to the far older Melody Maker. Upon the demise of Melody Maker in 2001, several of its writers and features moved to the NME.
During the mid 1970s the NME famously advertised for "hip young gunslingers" to join their editorial staff. This resulted in the recruitment of Tony Parsons and Julie Burchill, who went on to champion a new musical trend that became known as punk rock, giving coverage to rising bands such as the Sex Pistols and The Clash, and clubs such as The Roxy in London's Neale Street.
Paul Morley, founder of ZTT Records (label of Frankie Goes to Hollywood), and more recently something of a media pundit, also began his journalistic career writing for the NME during the early 1980s. Other 'names' that wrote for the paper during this period included 'X Moore' (a socialist writer and also member of the band The Redskins), Steven Wells (who was formerly a ranting poet under the name Seething Wells), Adrian Thrills and Ian Penman.
Other former NME journalists include DJs Steve Lamacq and Andrew Collins (also a film critic), sports television and radio presenter Danny Kelly.