Michael Leonard: 1966-2021
In tribute to the former Guitar Magazine editor and Guitar.com contributor.
The Guitar Magazine and Guitar.com teams were shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of Michael Leonard on 2 July following a short battle with cancer. Editor of Guitar Magazine from 1993 to 1998, Michael was later appointed editor of Guitar Techniques, Guitarist, MusicRadar, Country Music and Vintage Rock, and in recent years had been a regular contributor to Guitar.com.
His other roles included a stint as European Editor of Gibson.com and editor of the official Fender Magazine. He also contributed to Mojo, Q, The Independent, Rolling Stone and Billboard. Michael was born in Wigan in 1966 but grew up in Exeter, graduating from the University of Bath with a degree in economics and politics in 1988.
By his own admission, he “fell into” publishing in the early 1990s but, during the decades that followed, Michael would go on to edit more than 300 individual magazines and author more than 1,000 articles, interviewing a who’s who of the biggest stars in music along the way. Over the years, several members of the current Guitar Magazine team worked alongside Michael on a variety of titles.
In 2004, he was even responsible for giving Guitar Magazine chief editor Chris Vinnicombe his first job in the industry. “Mike’s contribution to guitar journalism in the UK was transformative,” said Chris. “His inclusive and forward-facing outlook helped drag guitar magazines into the 21st century and open the door for artists who valued songs and melody over technical prowess.
“He also saw the online and social media explosions of the 2000s as huge opportunities rather than phenomena to be feared. But more than all that, Mike was a thoroughly decent human being with a razor wit, and a formidable writer whose work continues to be an inspiration. I can speak for the rest of the team when I say we’re all going to miss him a great deal. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife Linda, and children Aimee and Sam.”