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Tom Smith DJ, is deeply embedded in the Manchester scene and knew the Stone Roses Ian Brown.

‘I was having a root in the garage & turned up this short note thought to be lost yonks ago. I was DJ’ing a Northern Soul / Mod / Scooter scene night at the Black Lion pub in Salford back in ’82. The promoters were Mike Phoenix & Ian Brown. I was handed this note to read out, written by Ian Brown trying to flog some Lambretta GP scooter parts, a year before he formed the Stone Roses. God knows why I kept hold of this at the time, or how it survived the past 35 years!
I started dj’ing at 17, back in ’76 having amassed a record collection since I was 13, following a visit to West Gorton youth club with my pal Ralph Edghill to see his brother Dave playing tunes. This was the moment that forged my obsession with black music, I was hearing stuff not played on the radio, yet so much better, Donnie Elbert: Little Piece of Leather, Arthur Conley: Funky Street, Jean Knight: Mr Big Stuff, Toots & the Maytalls etc, etc.
In ’76 this passion drew me to Wigan Casino & a desire to return play the tunes I heard there to a wider crowd at local venues around Tameside.
Punk was happening & I couldn’t ignore the effect it also had on me via Clash & Buzzcocks, Ramones.
I started a residency at the Birch cellar bar in Ashton, where I was free to mix up all of my passions through Northern, Punk, Ska, Dub, Psych…..Etc.
In ‘82 was approached by Mike Phoenix to DJ for him & his co-promoter, a 19-year-old Ian Brown, at a Scooterist / Mod night at the Black Lion, Blackfriars, Salford.
I’d arrive with all my gear at 7pm & Ian would help me up the stairs with the load in & set up.
When we met, (I was 23) I recall him saying to me, “you’re the manager at Shoppers Paradise* in Timperley aren’t you, I go there shopping with my mam & I thought you were the coolest guy, cos you had a skinhead & wore Docs & had a manager’s badge on”
(*Shoppers Paradise, a discount supermarket like Aldi, coincidentally, where Frank Sidebottom’s Lard video was filmed)
Ian either wore a t-shirt with the current Weetabix skinheads ad campaign characters on, or more controversially the Adolph Hitler World Tour shirt, which can in my opinion be forgiven as nothing more than a juvenile attempt at being a bit naughty, but just as well there was no social media then.
One night, he was late in, I asked where he’d been, “just been to see Roman Holliday (group) at The Hacienda” how odd, even then
I recall him being very fond of the Northern stuff he was hearing for the 1st time & The Jam & 2Tone stuff, but one particular tune that I used to end the night with, he told me was a personal favourite, surprisingly, the haunting melancholy of Brenda Holloway’s: “I’ll Always Love You”.
The night ran at the Black Lion for 18 months from where it’s popularity saw it move to the Berlin Club.
I next saw Ian when I was resident DJ at The International 1, in ’86 , I asked how he was doing, he said he was in a band called The Stone Roses, & went on to say that name was inspired by the music I played at the Black Lion, “It’s about the edgy hard sound of Punk & rock feeling like Stone & the melodies of Northern Soul like a Rose”
Other tales, about my time at the International in the Roger Eagle biog , “Sit Down & listen to This” by Bill Sykes whose classic book on Manchester/Liverpool based music legend is well worth reading (details here),
I’m still playing tunes after 20 years non-stop, at The Witchwood in Ashton every Friday night, I tend to let the crowd predict the course of music these days, occasionally indulging myself with a nugget that golden era.‘

3 COMMENTS

  1. That was a great night, think it was on Mondays and pub hours ? then on to the Ritz/Cyprus to finish the evening off. It was christened the Twisted Wheel (though obviously in name only and not specifically soul) and when it finished there it went to the Beehive in Swinton/Pendlebury not Berlin, Berlin already had a musically similar night.

  2. Think your right with the Monday night we used to park scoots in a dodgy carpark around the back no lights always expecting an ambush but never did lol had more trouble at the beehive though…I think there was a doo on most nights in town.good times

    • Yep, scooters down the street at the back, we had murders one night at the Beehive, all good fun though and nothing a crash helmet and ball-pein didn’t sort out.

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