Drawings by John Moss
Manchester Pop & Rock Bands
Adamson - Big Country
Rock musician. Although born in Manchester on 11th April 1958,
Adamson grew up in Crossgates (near Dunfermline in Fife), he
was introduced to folk and country music by his parents. When
he first saw "The Damned" play in Edinburgh in 1976,
it spurred him to abandon plans to become an environmental health
inspector and form his first band, "Tattoo".
soon evolved into punk-pop outfit "The Skids", which included
extrovert vocalist, Richard Jobson, The Skids enjoyed a string
of successes, including the hit singles Into The Valley
and Masquerade. But even at this early stage, Adamson
was struggling to cope with the pressures of success, and disappeared
temporarily halfway through recording sessions for The Skids'
debut album, Scared To Dance. Adamson
went on to form "Big Country" (www.bigcountry.co.uk)
in 1981, the band with whom he is best identified, as is the
distinctive style of his guitar playing. The group had originally
included Bruce Watson, Alan Wishart, Pete Wishart and Clive
Parker, but the abiding nucleus of the band was to comprise
Adamson (guitar and vocals), as well as Mark Brzezicki (drums
and backing vocals), Tony Butler (bass and vocals) and Bruce
Watson (guitar). Their albums included The Crossing (1983),
Steeltown (1984), The Seer (1986), Peace In
Our Time (1988), No Place like Home (1991), The
Buffalo Skinners (1993), Why the Long Face (1995)
and Driving to Damascus (1999).
1983, the band achieved world-wide notoriety and their debut
album The Crossing, sold three million copies and earned
two Grammy nominations and a Rolling Stone Award, among many
other accolades. They followed this with a stream of successful
singles, many as Top Ten chart successes. Having suffered from
alcohol-related depression, Adamson disappeared from his home
in Nashville (USA), to be found dead some weeks later in a hotel
in Hawaii on 16 December 2001. Although
the band achieved major international success during the 1980s,
for a time rivalling fellow Celtic big-anthem acts "U2"
and "Simple Minds", Adamson remained doggedly committed
to his working class Scottish roots. At the time of his death,
he still owned a public house in Dunfermline.
are indebted to Les Raisbeck for suggesting this entry and providing
much of the biographical information contained here.
Born Dennis Leigh in Chorley, Lancashire, in 1974 John Foxx
migrated to London, initially to study at the Royal College
of Art. There he became interested in electronic music and began
rehearsing with a band called "Tigerlily", and became a major
figure in establishing so-called "electro-pop" or "synth" (synthetic)
music. After releasing just one record ("Aint Misbehavin')"
the group changed its name to "Ultravox", (www.ultravox.org.uk).
Ultravox went on to become a major mid-80s group, and it is
probably as a founder member of this group that Foxx is best
known. With Ultravox he wrote, sang and experimented in synthetic
sounds, before leaving for a solo career in 1979, and the group
was taken over by Midge Ure, with whom it was to achieve great
artistic and commercial success and generate a world-wide cult
following. Gary Numan cited Foxx as one of his main influences.
As a solo performer, Foxx created his own record label "MetalBeat",
distributed by Virgin Records. His first single, ""Underpass",
was followed by a string of minor Top 40 UK hits that included
"No-One Driving", "Burning Car" and
"Europe After The Rain". Foxx's appearances
on the singles and album charts ended in the mid-80s. Other
John Foxx music includes Metamic, The Garden and
The Golden Section. Meantime, working under his real
name of Dennis Leigh, Foxx has established himself as a talented
graphic designer, and often designed his own cover art. He was
also commissioned to undertake various other projects, such
as the cover of Salman Rushdie's novel "The Moor's Last
Eventually, Foxx seems to have become disillusioned with the
music business and his distributors, Virgin, grew ever more
frustrated at the lack of his financial success. This probably
contributed to the underlying mood of "In Mysterious
Ways", which despite its beautiful tunes, did not sell
well and marked what was effectively the end of John Foxx's
commercial music career. In the late 1980s he returned to America
and lived for a time in Detroit where he became involved in
acid/house culture/music/beats, etc, and released music around
1990 under the name "Nation 12". During the
mid-90s he released many new songs including "Shifting
City" with Manchester's Louis Gordon (see http://www.ultravox.org.uk/evnewsjcdnew.html)
as well as a solo album entitled "Cathedral Oceans".
The lasty we heard was that Foxx has returned to art & design
work under his own name of Dennis Leigh and examples of his
work can be found at http://www.sva.edu/salon/ninth/leigh.html.
John Foxx also has an official website at www.metamatic.com
which has up-to-date info on his progress.
Leah Holmes has recently emailed us with information that Foxx
is currently lecturing at Thames Valley University, Ealing.
Apparently, he lectures mainly in graphic design and also in
(born 13 Jan 1947)
(born 12 March 1948)
Mel Pritchard (born
20 January 1948)
(born 15 April 1947)
Harvest began as a group in the early 1960s in Oldham when John
Lees and Stuart "Wooley" Wolstenholme met at Oldham
School of Art and formed a band which they called "The Sorcerers",
later renamed "The Keepers". At
the same time Les Holroyd and Mel Pritchard were playing in
another local band called "Heart And Soul And The Wickeds".
These two entities were playing semi-professionally and gradually
became known to each other and formed a quartet comprising Holroyd,
Pritchard, Lees and Wolstenholme, and in 1967 they called themselves
Barclay James Harvest. With
the backing of local businessman, John Crowther, they occupied
an 18th Century farmhouse to write and rehearse their music;
they lived a fairly meagre existence, but, one of their first
efforts, "Early Morning" in 1968 attracted good reviews
and a chance to record radio sessions for radio DJ, John Peel.
in turn led to a contract with EMI as the band became one of
the first signings to the Harvest label. Their music was marked
by a great deal of experimentation with new musical forms -
not just traditional electric guitars, bass and drums - but
included woodwind, strings and brass.
albums followed, including "Once Again", "Barclay James Harvest
And Other Short Stories", "Everyone is Everybody Else", "Time
Honoured Ghosts", "Gone to Earth" and "Octoberon".
Their record success was accompanied by live performances and
tours in West Germany and the USA, where they built a steady
regular following. In 1979 Wolstenholme left the band to pursue
a solo career. They
have continued to produce music, including "Caught In The
Light" in 1993, "River Of Dreams" in 1997 and "Nexus"
in 1999. They have been plagued with controversy, financial
problems, band members coming and going, yet they still continue
as a band and as solo performers. Though
they still have a large cult following, particularly in Europe,
they have never quite managed to recapture the popularity and
success which they enjoyed in the 1970s.
Martin (or Maartin) Allcock is known chiefly as a bass player
and guitarist. He was born in Manchester in 1957 and attended
Cardinal Langley RC High School in Middleton, Rochdale. After
studying music at Huddersfield and Leeds he supported several
major artists like Mike Harding and Robin Williamson, before
training to be a chef and working in the Shetlands. In 1981
he returned to music with the short-lived Bully Wee Band, a
celtic folk group. Later he toured the UK, Ireland and Europe
with Kieran Halpin. In 1985 he was invited to join the reformed
Fairport Convention as lead guitarist and toured with the band
in UK, USA, Europe, Australia, Turkey, Hong Kong & Bermuda.
In 1988 he joined Jethro Tull with whom he worked and toured
for four years. He went on to play keyboard with The Mission
- by 1991 he was actually in three groups at the same time!
this time he also did extensive studio work, playing on over
120 albums. His recorded work includes:
Craven's Top 3 hit "Promise Me"
Plant's album "The Fate Of Nations", which featured
his co-written "Colours Of A Shade"
- In 1990
he released a solo album, "MAART".
- He produced
Ralph McTell's album, "Sand In Your Shoes".
He has also
made 6 albums with Dan Ar Braz, recorded the music for the BBC2
TV series "40 Minutes", writes regularly for BBC Radio
4 drama and a McTell/Allcock composition, "The Islands",
was used throughout the series "Billy Connolly's World Tour
Of Scotland". After
too long on the road, he left Fairport Convention at the end
of 1996. In 1997 he formed acoustic power trio WAZ! in which
he played bass, bouzouki and guitar and sang. In 1998 he played
lead guitar with Midge Ure and recorded music for the TV series,
"Births, Marriages And Deaths" with Danny Thompson. These
two also recorded together for the Jimmy McGovern Channel 4
drama, "Dockers". He
has also written music for "The Book Of Watermarks",a
Sony Playstation game which came out in Japan in July 1999,
and painstakingly transcribed two songbooks for Fairport Convention,
and one each for singer-songwriters Allan Taylor and Kieran
appeared at the SwarbAid benefit concert in Birmingham Symphony
Hall in 1999, performing with Beverley Craven, Ralph McTell,
Jethro Tull, Fairport Convention and Beryl Marriott. He also
appeared with Midge Ure in Vienna, performing the song "Vienna".
1999 he recorded his second solo album, "OX15",
with pieces by Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, Najma Akhtar and
has been recently recording with Ralph McTell and Mike Harding
as well as recording with The London Chamber Orchestra for Lenny
Henry's BBCTV series, "Hope And Glory".In
March 2000 he was once more touring with Kieran Halpin.
Born Simon Solomon Webbe on the 30th March 1979 in Manchester,
Simon was all set for a career as a professional footballer
and was actually signed up by Port Vale and later by Stoke City
- many other professional football teams were keen to sign him,
including Derby County, Birmingham City, Liverpool and Shrewsbury
career could have gone either way, as he also had a serious
interest in popular music and had played and sung rap music
with Birmingham-based hip hop group 'Criminal Damage', before
he eventually decided to give up football completely and concentrate
on his music. He subsequently moved to London and joined the
group "Blue". In late 2002 Blue set out on their first
UK tour covering Sheffield, Cardiff, Birmingham, Newcastle,
Glasgow, Manchester and London's Wembley Arena. Simon
is also set to act as manager to a five-piece band called "VS"
who are signed to Blue's label, Innocent Records. They released
their first single 2004. His relationship with partner Nichola
Jones, the mother of his young daughter, ended recently and
he is presently unattached.
Born Jimmie Miller in Salford in 1915, Ewan MacColl was the
son of an iron-moulder. His father was also a militant trade-unionist
and communist and both parents were of Scottish descent. Thus
politics and the folk songs of Scotland were common fare at
home and it was little wonder that Ewan grew grew into a world-renowned
singer-songwriter and political activist. MacColl left school
in 1930 and worked at a variety of temporary dead-end jobs.
Also in that year he joined the Workers' Theatre and went on
to form his own street-performing group, known as the 'Red Megaphones'.
To supplement his paltry income, during this time he wrote,
and later edited, various small newspapers as well as composing
satirical songs and tunes for local restaurants who hired him
to make advertising jingles. In 1934 he worked with Joan Littlewood.
They married and set up an experimental theatre in Manchester,
the 'Theatre of Action'. MacColl was also cast in the leading
role in "Draw the Fires".
By 1936 where they formed the Theatre Union, with many notable
productions to their credit, including Lope de Vega's "Fuente
Ovejuña", "The Good Soldier Schweik"
and MacColl's own "Last Edition" which was
so controversial that it was banned by police in 1939. In 1945,
after the war, the Theatre Workshop was relaunched, Littlewood
directing and producing while MacColl wrote plays - during this
time he wrote eleven plays in all which were performed on tour
and translated into several languages including German, French,
Polish and Russian. His plays achieved some praise, especially
from the likes of George Bernard Shaw. His marriage to Littlewood
ended and in 1950 he married the dancer Jean Newlove, by whom
he had two children. MacColl's interests gradually turned more
to traditional music and he was soon an instrumental part of
the so-called folksong revival in Britain. He went on to co-found
the 'Ballads and Blues Club' in London in 1953.
1956 he formed a relationship with Peggy Seegar and they were
to become a well known singing partnership. They extensively
toured together, appeared on television shows and made an extensive
record collection of their own topical songs as well as accumulating
a large archive of traditional folk songs. MacColl also did
a great deal of work in education and documentation, writing
scripts and music for BBC films, for commercial television and
for the stage.
is probably best known to the wider public as the writer of
the popular love song, "The First Time Ever I Saw Your
Face," (made popular by Roberta Flack), and the classic
song "Dirty Old Town", (of his native Salford),
as well as the lesser known songs "The Shoals of Herring,"
"Freeborn Man" and "The Manchester Rambler".
In all he wrote and published over 300 songs. Ewan
MacColl died on 22nd October 1989 as a result of complications
following a heart operation. In 1991 he was awarded a posthumous
honorary degree by the University of Salford.