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Celebrity Drawings by John Moss

Manchester Pop & Rock Bands

Stuart Adamson – Big Country

Stuart Adamson & Big Country

(1958 – 2001)
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”.
This 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”
( 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).
In 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.

We are indebted to Les Raisbeck
for suggesting this entry and providing much of the biographical
information contained here.

John Foxx

John Foxx

(Birthdate unknown)
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”, (
). 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 Ca r”
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 Sigh “.
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
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
John Foxx also has an official website at
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

Barclay James Harvest

Barclay James Harvest
Barclay James Harvest

John Lees (born 13 Jan
Les Holroyd
(born 12 March 1948)
Mel Pritchard
(born 20 January 1948)
Stuart Wolstenholme
(born 15 April 1947)
Barclay James 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. This 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.
Celebrated 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 Allcock

Maartin Allcock

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!
During this time he also did extensive studio work, playing
on over 120 albums. His recorded work includes:

  • Beverley Craven’s Top 3 hit “Promise Me”
  • Robert 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 Halpin. He 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”.
In October 1999 he recorded his second solo album, “OX15”
, with pieces by Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, Najma Akhtar and
others. He 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.

Simon Webbe

Simon Webbe

(b. 1979)
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
Town. His 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.

Ewan MacColl

Ewan MacColl

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.
In 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.
MacColl 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.


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This page last updated 20 Jan 12.