The lifetime of Peter McGough (1949-2020)

For the love of Pete. For Pete & # 39; s sake. Give Pete a chance. In a perfect world this memorial would be titled with a McGoughian pun, but in a perfect world Peter McGough would still be alive, joking, writing, editing, mentoring, laughing. After a valiant seven-year battle with cancer, bodybuilding journalism giant Peter died on December 29 at the age of 71. And so we celebrate a remarkable life and career.

Peter McGough was born in Corby, England on August 24, 1949, to Scottish immigrants and the middle of three children. The family moved frequently through Central England as his parents had numerous jobs (his father was also an amateur fiction writer). Peter was the calm child. Of his father, a World War II combat veteran with an indelible work ethic and an infectious sense of humor, Peter said, “I adored him. Growing up, I admit that in his presence I withdrew into myself, unable to compete with the strength of his personality. I started working in ttingham when I was 15 and the company had a Christmas get-together for employees and family. My father started to amuse some of my co-workers and they said to him, “Let's see where Peter got his sense of humor; He's almost the funniest guy in the building. "He was surprised because he never saw me push forward in a crowd to make a joke. I later learned he was worried about my shyness. But how could I compete with him?"

In his lively prose, Peter recalled a seminal event: “I know we all remember that first moment, that first realization that the iron beetle had bitten and the course of our lives had changed forever. It's similar to the first time, well, it doesn't matter. My first entry into a gym for a real workout was in my hometown of ttingham, England, in July 1969. I was 19 and my mentor was Big John Courtney, who was two years older than me. He had tried to persuade me to train for a long time, but I refused. Soccer was my game. I didn't want to be muscle-bound – those were the times. But I had started reading Joe Weider's Muscle Builder / Power and I increasingly wanted to give weights a chance. Thinking that I was going to be looked down on by all fitness habits, I worked out in my bedroom with 5 gallon paint cans as dumbbells for a few weeks. I held the cans and did curls, squats, side raises, overhead presses, two-armed extensions, and one-armed rows. Gosh, I was the MacGyver of workout.

The day came for my gym debut, it was a hot Saturday afternoon when John led me into the maze of an old row house that was Lake Street Gym. It was a shabby, shabby, smelly place with no shower over an electrician shop. Surprisingly, despite my previous fears, all of the stocked muscular animals there were remarkably friendly to a newbie. They quickly learned the empathy of exercise rats: no matter how big they got, they always remembered their first time. John did a 40 minute workout where I worked each part of the body with two or three sets of an exercise. I still remember exactly how I was pushing on a power rack behind the neck when Steppenwolf's Born To Be Wild roared from a beaten transistor radio. It was Thursday before I could properly straighten my limbs and the sore muscles were gone. But that night – a wiser and less ambitious man – I was back at the gym to John's beat. The bug had bitten itself and the infection would last a lifetime … I loved bodybuilding and bodybuilders and I would devour the magazines without knowing that my future lies there. As John Lennon rightly sang, "Life is what happens to you when you make other plans." And so it continues. "

Just two weeks after that first workout, Peter saw his first bodybuilding competition and met the show's namesake, legendary Mr. Universe and the Hercules movie, Reg Park. And so the neophyte strength trainer became a bodybuilding fan. Just a few months later, he attended a seminar by a young phenomenon who was taking the muscle world by storm, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He screamed at the 1971 Mr. Universe in London when Bill Pearl defeated Sergio Oliva (and Reg Park and Frank Zane). He witnessed the first golden age of bodybuilding up close.

Like Joe Weider, another high-flyer of the working class, Peter received a "college education". He read history, philosophy, and fiction (Colin Wilson and Hermann Hesse were favorites) along with muscle magazines. Long wanted to be a journalist, he sold articles in the 1970s while struggling with other jobs in ttingham. He ran marathons and played soccer. In 1980 he began fulfilling his predictions for the future, combining his affinity for words and weights by freelancing for muscle magazines, first in the UK and from 1984 for MuscleMag and FLEX in rth America. He honed his skills with a small paycheck at a time. Shortly after midnight on March 31, 1985, he met Anne Byron, his future wife and constant companion for the second half of his life. He later said his only regret was that he didn't meet her earlier. From 1985 to 1989, Peter was co-editor of the UK magazine Muscle & Co., writing his best articles, like the one in which he discovered Tom had room for a thousand forced reps during a ridiculously intense midnight workout.

In 1991, in ttingham, Peter and Anne founded Pumping Press, a monthly tabloid called "The True Voice of Bodybuilding," which had a warning label on every cover: "DANGER: If you like your bodybuilding sweet and innocent – this publication is not for you!" It showered the competition with news and gossip, demonstrated Peter's pun-tastic sense of humor, and released competition results and photos in just a week in this dark pre-internet age where fans waited two months for news in magazines. Pumping Press only lasted nine issues, but that's because its greatest accomplishment was impressing Joe Weider, whose job openings Peter and Anne moved to Southern California in 1992.

Peter, a senior writer at FLEX, was used to doing things in his own irreverent way in England, and he first tried to find his place in the Weider conglomerate. Even the museum office building impressed him (it always would). One evening Joe Weider saw Peter down at his desk and asked what was going on. Peter told him. "I brought you here because of your sarcasm," Joe replied. "Wow, it's great to feel wanted," joked Peter. But that conversation was the genesis of Hard Times, FLEX's pun-laden news and gossip section that allowed Peter to expand on Pumping Press's promise. The '90s was bodybuilding's second golden age, and the decade found its greatest chronicler in Peter McGough. From coverage of fan-eye contests to the temple stories of English compatriot Dorian Yates (Peter also authored Yates's first book), Peter is the author of many of FLEX's best articles. He was rightly proud of his superb 1995 profile of Mike Mentzer, who conquered the ups and downs of a very troubled champion.

Courtesy Dan Solomon

In 1997 Peter was appointed editor-in-chief of FLEX and further expanded the dominance of the magazine over the competition. "This was the job of your life," he recalled. “That was my baby. I couldn't do enough for this magazine. We had a great team. Back then, in terms of release, it was now or never. People didn't get their messages from 100 different sources. They trusted us for new and different information. I wanted to take readers where they couldn't go. You could see so much of the pictures, but there is a story behind everything. There should be a beginning, a middle, and an end. I used the magazine to tell the bodybuilding stories. “In addition to his editing, design, and writing duties, he has mentored and advocated a generation of writers, photographers, and bodybuilders too numerous to mention. Many of us saw him as a surrogate father, just as he (and Arnold) saw Joe Weider. Of Joe, he said, "He would call me twenty meters from my office and ask in that much-simulated voice," Can you save me a few minutes? "Can I save Zeus a few minutes? The teen who's still lurking inside of me would think, are you kidding me? It always took more than a few minutes while I was sitting in his office hearing his stories, and he did." always amazed me. "

In 2006 Peter was appointed editor-in-chief of Muscle & Fitness and Muscle & Fitness Hers in addition to FLEX. The shy but scratchy boy from ttingham had climbed to the pinnacle of bodybuilding journalism. Governor Schwarzenegger was on speed dial. Even so, he later admitted that the editor-in-chief of FLEX ("my baby") was as high as he ever wanted to rise, and when long days were overtaken by budgeting meetings, advertiser calls, and management matters, he missed the simpler times he was could only focus on writing and traveled to more competitions. In that way he was also like Joe Weider. He stepped down from his high place in late 2008 and left the company the following year.

Peter moved to Florida with Anne and initially wrote again for MuscleMag. From 2012 to 2017 he was a senior writer on muscle development where he wrote around 450 articles and often shared his own amazing experiences. He also conducted numerous video and audio interviews on both sides of the microphone and provided contest commentary. As of 2013, he was battling stage four cancer all the time. "I know this is true," he wrote five years ago. "When you have a fight on your hands – be it physical, mental, spiritual, medical or whatever – don't step back. Step forward and give all you have. If you have to get down, swing down Otherwise you will always regret not doing your best. "

In his final years, when he was fighting all the time, Peter returned to write again for FLEX and Muscle & Fitness. In our long conversations, he sometimes wistfully spoke of younger, healthier times when he first wrote for FLEX or when he ran this magazine a few years later. All of the top Olympic finalists were Weider athletes, and FLEX was the one publication that every serious bodybuilder around the world had to read. "We make the stars," said Peter in editorial meetings. It wasn't a braggart. It was an acknowledgment of the power "his baby" had in the 90s and 00s before social media. “We worked with people like Flex Wheeler, Ronnie Coleman and Jay Cutler and told their stories. We went to their houses; We went to their gyms. During competitions, we took you to your hotel room and behind the scenes. We built on their personas. With Dorian (Yates) I called him "The Shadow" and built on that feeling of mystery. We've nurtured all of the drama, the conflict and controversy and their personalities that made things more exciting. "

Back then, he was happiest at a gym like Temple in 1993 on a workout photoshoot when Dorian Yates (in black socks) revealed a stunning crowd never before encountered or in a dark press pit (where his snowy hair was always a beacon) in the rare cases when even he was enthusiastic (example: Phil Heath, Ironman Pro 2008) or at the Weider headquarters – the bodybuilding museum – when he took in the latest phenomenon with wide eyes – say, Flex Lewis – On a tour that ended in Joe Weider's ornate office, Peter felt the same thrill as she always did. And he was happiest when the first box of the latest issue arrived at the office. “The great thing about a magazine,” he said, “is that I can hold it in my hands. After you've created something brand new every month, you see that it was born.” He wouldn't cover models about that Honor they received and before their issue hit the kiosk he would give them a box overnight with a personalized note he had written – a blissful surprise package that could literally start a career. He had a supernatural ability to remember the issues and even the pages that articles or certain photos appeared on years ago, because he could remember how each issue was carefully constructed and because, as he would say, he was only so much Like Joe Weider before him, Peter knew from personal experience that for some readers a muscle magazine was a portal to a previously mystical world and a blueprint for fulfilling it rer dreams.

The past fades, but the memories of Peter McGough will remain. Since I lost my father at a young age, I don't need a therapist to tell me why I found a father figure in him. But I shared this feeling with many others, including more than one Mr. Olympia, most of whom have fathers but considered Peter their second. Whether a muscle journalist, a professional bodybuilder, a competition promoter or a reader of his prose for over four decades, we have all benefited immensely from his advice, advocacy, humor, and insights. He was the keen-eyed observer, the bodybuilding journalism giant who forever searched for the bullet, the next big thing, the stunning photo, the perfect pun, the angle or insight that no one else could see or if they could you couldn't translate it into words as he could. He made bodybuilding funnier, smarter, kinder, and better. FLEX expresses its condolences to Anne and the whole bodybuilding world. Some of us lost a surrogate father and we all lost a really great friend.

McGoughCourtesy Dan Solomon

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