Loaded was founded in 1994 by Mick Bunnage, Tim Southwell and James Brown, a former deputy editor of the music weekly New Musical Express. In its early days, the magazine's readership was once memorably described as "50% Sun readers and 50% Guardian readers". Brown has described the irreverent comic Viz as an inspiration for Loaded (and he later bought the comic when he founded the company I Feel Good). Brown's fanzine Attack On Bzag can be seen as a precursor for Loaded, as can music journalist John Robb's Rox fanzine, which heavily influenced Brown and Loaded with its frenetic style and humorous use of captioned photos.
Image of Gary Oldman from the first copy of Loaded
Loaded captured the lad culture of the 1990s like no other magazine; its glorification of British male "rogues" (Liam Gallagher, Oliver Reed, Paul Gascoigne etc.) was only outstripped by its fondness for titillating photoshoots with nubile C-, B-, and occasionally A-list celebrities. However, early covers led on male icons for film and TV - Gary Oldman was on the first cover.
David Beckham was promised the cover of Loaded
The Loaded style has been cloned numerous times, most obviously by Emap's FHM and Maxim, which became the biggest-selling men's magazine in the US for Dennis Publishing. Loaded also influenced women's monthlies, with Emap launching Minx, "For girls with a lust for life". In January 2004, IPC launched the weekly Nuts, announced as the world's first men's weekly, and Emap quickly followed with Zoo.
Loaded won the prestigious PPA Magazine Of The Year Award an unprecedented two times in a row, in 1995 & 1996. In 2007, Loaded was voted 49th in Industry website goodmagazine.com's Top 51 Magazines of All Time list, for the "Smartest, Prettiest, Coolest, Funniest, Most Influential, Most Necessary, Most Important, Most Essential, etc."  Despite its influence, sales have dropped in recent years. However, in February 2010, Loaded received an ABC circulation figure that was down "just 2% over the period," compared with what Media Week called "eye-popping falls" for its competitors.
Launch Deputy Editor & later Editor, Tim Southwell, wrote about the early years of Loaded in Getting Away With It (Ebury Press, 1998). James Brown discussed the title at length and the impact it had on '90s culture in the documentary Live Forever: The Rise and Fall of Brit Pop.
Spice Girls Mel B on a controversial cover.
Loaded has historically attracted talented, yet troubled writers. James Brown said, “I was told you need 99 straight guys and one weirdo to make a magazine. I did it the other way, I chose 99 weirdos.” Flying under the flag of 'Gonzo' journalism, originated by Hunter S.Thompson, many articles are written under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Loaded writer Martin Pashley was banned from a town in Atlanta, USA, for destroying a vending machine while reporting for Loaded as his alter ego “The Sex Hunter”. Writer Jon Wilde was punched in the face by snooker player Jon “Hurricane” Higgins, and again by chef Keith Floyd in July '96, during interviews for the magazine. In April 2008, Loaded were forced to issue what The Times called the 'apology of the month' to Heinz, stating, "We now accept that Heinz has never produced swastika-shaped spaghetti nor did it support the Nazi regime in any other way," after a mis-informed article.
Today, Loaded is edited by Martin Daubney, who was behind the title's relaunch in April 2005, again in January 2010 and is now the longest-serving editor of the title, having been in the job since August 2003. Between 2003-2006, Loaded won numerous industry awards for design and journalism, including 'best designed fashion pages' at the Magazine Design Awards, for a spread of dogs photographed wearing jewellery. Loaded Staff Writer Jeff Maysh won five industry awards for journalism, including MJA Feature Writer of the Year , and PTC New Monthly Consumer Journalist of the year. Speaking of the relaunched Loaded, Daubney said: "We spent a lot of time talking to our sweet readers, and they said: 'we love all the great stuff at the heart of the mag: the football, the features, the girls'... We've also roped in our celebrity mates - from Richard Bacon on the movies and Vinnie Jones casting an unflinching eye over the sports agenda, to Ross Kemp providing his monthly missive from the front line of modern man. And frankly, we're mighty pleased with the results.”