I took up the Tovey Chair of Music on January 1 2006 having had quite an unusual academic career. My undergraduate degree (from Oxford ) was in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. My Masters and PhD (from the University of California, Berkeley ) were in Sociology. (My thesis topic was Education and the Working Class in Leeds, 1780-1870.)
I initially taught in the Sociology Department at the University of Warwick , before moving to Strathclyde University to become Director of the John Logie Baird Centre for Research in Film and Television and Professor of English Studies. In 1999 I moved to the University of Stirling and a chair in Film and Media.
For much of my career, as both an academic and journalist, I have been engaged with the problems of taking popular music seriously. As an academic I was a founder member of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music and a founding editor of the journal, Popular Music, and the majority of my scholarly publications have been in this field. As I journalist I started out as an editor of the pioneering British rock magazine, Let It Rock, and became rock critic for both the Sunday Times and the Observer. I was a music columnist for the New York Village Voice from 1980-1995, and have chaired the judges of the Mercury Music prize since it began in 1992.