Music Express (Rock Express 1986-8). Monthly pop music publication established in 1976 in Calgary by Keith Sharp. The first issue, dated October 1976, was called Alberta Music Express. Sharp, who served as founding editor, entered in 1978 into partnership with Conny J. Kunz, who assumed (and until 1990 retained) the role of publisher. Editorial offices were moved to Toronto in 1980. Initially a newspaper, it adopted a magazine format in 1982. With Sharp continuing as managing editor (and, after 1990, as publisher) the editorship was held by Greg Quill 1982-3, Tarin Elbert 1985-6, Dianne Collins 1986-8, Dean Haynes 1988-9, Perry A. Stern 1989, and Mary Dickie 1989-93.
Music Express entered the US market as the in-store magazine 1986-9 of the Musicland retail record chain. It assumed the name Rock Express 1986-8 and had a combined Canadian and US circulation that averaged 700,000, reaching 1 million for the Christmas 1987 issue. Music Express was distributed in the USA by other means after 1989. By 1991, circulation was reduced to 215,000. Editorial coverage was given over largely to rock and pop stars of the day, with columns for jazz, soul, and heavy metal, news reports from various cities, and record, concert, video, and book reviews. The parent company, Rock Express Communications, established in 1984, published the heavy metal magazine Metallion 1984-5 and introduced HMV Magazine (prepared for the HMV retail chain) in 1990.
In April 1992, the publication's parent company, Wembley Productions, was taken over by Allan Gregg. The publication was renamed Impact in 1993, but folded in 1996. Meanwhile, former editor Sharp joined forces with Q-107's nationally syndicated Rock Radio Network to launch ACCESS (first issue May 1994), a bi-monthly music magazine with increased emphasis on lifestyle, movies, home entertainment, fashion, travel, and sports. In 1996 Sharp became the publisher of the new magazine (by this time operating under the aegis of Trafalgar Productions), and Sean Plummer became the editor. As of 2004, ACCESS had a per-issue circulation of 150,000 copies via retail outlets for music and clothing chains, including HMV.