Factory Fairy Tales: Ged Duffy – book reviewFactory Fairy Tales by Ged Duffy

Empire Books

Out 8th November – Pre-order here

Ged Duffy might be considered to be the unluckiest man in Manchester music. He could have managed New Order; he could have been the bass player in The Cult; he could have seen his band, Stockholm Monsters, take the mantle of the Happy Mondays and become the breakout scally-band on the coolest record label in the world, but of course, none of this happened.

They say that everyone has a book in them. Well, Ged has been through enough in his life, with so many stories packed inside the 300 plus pages of Factory Fairy Tales, that makes me think there could be a few people missing out.

Tony Wilson once described praxis as “doing something because you have the urge to do it, inventing the reasons later.” I’m not sure if anyone at Empire Books was aware of that, but Factory Fairy Tales feels like the logical successor and conclusion to a trilogy they began in 2018 publishing ‘Friends Of Mine: Punk In Manchester 1976-1978’ by Martin Ryan, and continued in 2019 with Gareth Ashton’s, ‘Manchester: It Never Rains’. Ged picks up the baton from these definitive works, that tell the real stories of the era from the people that were there, not constructed by an academic for a thesis 40 years after the event. Whilst they cover key ‘faces’ and how the scene developed Ged’s book is a much more personal affair, which carries on long after his years as a stagehand at the Russell Club and later The Hacienda; the formation of the first band from Burnage, Stockholm Monsters; and touring with New Order.

You may not have heard of Ged Duffy, but when the book opens with a series of quotes from Tony Wilson, Noel Gallagher and Tim Burgess followed by a foreword from Peter Hook and an introduction from Mani you’re left in no doubt that this is a story that deserves your attention. I’d go as far as saying if it wasn’t for Ged and his mates taking Mani and his crew under their wing some of the sounds from the later Madchester scene may have been very different. It’s not music but football that dominates the start of the story. Ged’s lifelong love of the Red Devils weaves throughout the book and is clearly as strong as his love for music. I’m roughly 10 years younger than the author, and although I was at a number of the pivotal matches covered later in the book I enjoyed some of the very honest memories of the time spent following Manchester United away from home in the early 1970s; specifically through the Tommy Docherty era and colourful trips to Maine Road, Elland Road as well as Anfield.

Ged must be one of the only people of a ‘certain age’ who doesn’t claim to have been at the first Sex Pistols gig. His call to arms came a couple of months later on 28 August 1976 when the band appeared on So It Goes performing Anarchy In The UK. From there, thanks to an amazing photographic memory we’re treated to gig after gig around Manchester and further afield. This may sound boring, but it’s not if you’re a music fan, especially if you’re one born a few years or so too late to have experienced it. Details just flow of early performances of bands, who would become household a few years later, playing at some of the smallest venues including the Russell Club, Rafters and The Mayflower. If you can only dream of being able to see Iggy Pop at the Apollo and Joy Division, A Certain Ratio and Section 25 at the New Osbourne Club on the same evening, this book is for you.

Ged offers a great insight into what life was like living in Manchester city centre at the time, long before it became fashionable. The book also captures the times with several photos from his collection throughout, of friends, events and places. Some are long gone but not forgotten. As well as the gigs there are many tales of meetings with the bands, as Ged and legendary Manchester roadie Slim are invited to work for infamous promotor Alan Wise, as well as ingratiating themselves with Joy Division/New Order manager Rob Gretton. While Ged didn’t see the Sex Pistols at the Free Trade Hall he was invited to the Beach Club for the unadvertised first performance from New Order. Lucky bastard. I won’t spoil the stories contained but there are some belters, especially hi-jinx with the likes of The Damned got up to.

A third of the way into the book Ged is one of the founding members of Stockholm Monsters. Despite being in a band his thirst for gigs remains, catching The Fall on numerous occasions alongside ‘new’ acts from abroad, such as Dead Kennedy’s as well as contemporaries Model Team International, who would later find lasting and continued success as James. Although 1981 saw the band recording their debut single Fairy Tales, with Martin Hannett for Factory (one of his last production jobs for the label), and touring excessively with New Order it wouldn’t be until January 1982 when it would be released. The single featured a sleeve designed by future Designer of the Year, Mark Farrow, a decadent leather-look affair with gold printing in either purple or green. Unfortunately, not long after he manages to leave the band by mistake, just as they were about to make it big. The musical adventures continue for a while longer with Lavolta Lakota (a name he himself describes as being shit).

Speaking to the author, it was at this point, in the mid-’80s, where he was originally going to finish the book. I’m glad he didn’t. Music and football remain evident as he continues to reminisce on matches and gigs, but we lose the ‘lad about town’ as ‘real life’ kicks in and we gain a husband and family man after he marries Lesley, the love of his life in 1989. As you can imagine from the story so far life isn’t plain sailing, but it does have more colourful highs and heartbreaking lows along the way. Factory Fairy Tales is a great autobiography, one that you may not know you wanted, but if you’re a football (preferably Man United) or music fan, one that you need.

The launch event for the book will be taking place at the Old Nags Head, 19 Jacksons Row, Manchester on Wednesday 17th November from 7.30 pm. Buy Factory Fairy Tales here 

All words by Iain Key. See his Author Profile here author’s archive or on Twitter as @iainkey.

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50 going on 30... Dad to McKenzi... Season Ticket for MUFC... Collector of Music... Enjoys writing, especially about Manchester bands / Factory Records... Favourite Music : Joy Division/New Order, Wedding Present, The Smiths, Northside, Fightmilk, The Fall, The Jam, The Clash, Sex Pistols, Billy Bragg, Beatles, World Of Twist, My Chemical Romance, James, Happy Mondays, Section 25, Working Mens Club.... so so many....


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