In his work as a consultant for Guinness World Records, Matthew tirelessly examines all the goings on in the music world so we can continue to celebrate the incredible achievements of chart-toppers from all around the globe.
Admitting he feels “lucky” to have turned his biggest passion into a career, Matthew is keen to show others they can do it too.
And as he takes us Behind the Scenes of his work at GWR, he tells us exactly how he did it.
He said: “I think I'm a great example of someone who left school and college as an underachiever, with average grades and little confidence, who went on to fulfil an ambition by showing a passion and knowledge for a subject, and having people believe in me and my eclectic set of skills.”
Matthew has been working in the world of record-breaking since 2002 when he landed a job on a music book we used to make called GWR British Hit Singles & Albums, which ran from 1977 to 2006.
The way he got the job in the first place was pretty interesting and not too different to how Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday joined the company just weeks earlier.
Matthew, who previously worked as a local journalist in Cambridge, might not have any formal qualifications in music, but he sure knows an awful lot about the subject.
He’s so obsessed with music that he’s been keeping his very own Top 40 chart every single week for the last 32 years.
And it was armed with two big folders of these ‘Matthew White Official Charts’ that he turned up to see then-editor David Roberts after writing to him to ask for a job.
After that book came to an end, he moved over to the main Guinness World Records book, providing services as a proofreader, a music consultant, and also a sports consultant, keeping us abreast of all the record-breaking moments in tennis and cricket.
“I owe my whole career to David,” Matthew told us. “He saw my passion for music and took a chance on me all those years ago and I’m so grateful to him for that.
“It just goes to show that those formal qualifications aren’t everything, and people like me who struggled at school and left without great GCSEs and A-Levels shouldn’t give up on their dreams.”
With Matthew’s help, we’ve awarded countless record titles over the years, but how did his journey to expert status even begin?
“It all started with Lionel Richie’s single “Hello”,” he confessed.
“My parents bought it for me on vinyl for my ninth birthday, along with a Shakin’ Stevens album, and it just all went from there.
“I used to tape songs off the radio onto cassettes – something that will be an alien concept to kids now – and I started collecting vinyl and then CDs too.
“I still have hundreds and hundreds of them in my garage and I just can’t throw them away because they’re a big part of who I am.”
Through his love and deep understanding of music, Matthew both suggests potential records to us, and researches existing ones to help us keep on top of who is entitled to those sought-after certificates.
Some of the stand-out moments of his career, he tells us, were chatting with members of the Wu-Tang Clan about the most valuable album (a specially manufactured copy of their album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin… that cost $3 million (£1.9 m)), seeing Demi Lovato excitedly tweet about the youngest X Factor judge record Matthew suggested to us, and seeing one of his favourite artists, Shakira, post a snap of herself surrounded by GWR certificates he had a part in presenting her with.
Guinness Book of World Records 2014???! SO cool!!! Haha 😝😝😝— Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) September 5, 2013
Matthew’s interest doesn’t end when the certificate is printed and framed though; he continues to keep a close eye on all the records he plays a part in.
One he particularly enjoys monitoring is fastest rap in a hit single, awarded to Eminem for the 225 words he rapped in 30 seconds (7.5 words per second) in “Godzilla”.
“I love this record because so many people are trying to beat it,” Matthew said. “It set off a bit of a competition in the rap world and it’s been really fun to see people try to outdo Eminem.”
In what little spare time he has – because let’s face it, the fast-paced music world keeps him pretty busy – Matthew has been working on a book of his own, all about musicians from Suffolk.
He reckons he’s proofread or fact-checked around 60,000 records since 2008. Here’s to another 60,000!
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