We are sorry to hear of the death of MJ Drone the singer  from legendary Manchester punk band, The Drones.
Formed in Manchester in 1975, the band started out as a pub rock outfit called Rockslide and released a single called “Roller Coaster”. When this failed to break through they were influenced by the new punk scene and reinvented themselves as a punk rock band.
Managed briefly by local music journalist the band never quite the breaks before moving to London where they became part of the emerging scene around the Roxy and supported the Stranglers on tour.
The band appeared on two influential early punk compilation albums Streets and Short Circuit: Live at the Electric Circus.
The band’s debut EP, Temptations Of A White Collar Worker (1977), was described by one reviewer as “classic dole-queue punk.”
IIn October 1977, the Drones’ second single, “Bone Idol”, was released. In December 1977, they recorded a session at Maida Vale 4 studio for John Peel at BBC Radio 1. The tracklisting was “Be My Baby”, “The Change”, “Clique”, and “Movement”.
 That same month they released their debut album, Further Temptations, which has come to be regarded as a punk classic.
The band reformed in 1999 for Rebellion festival and released their final second album.
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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. Totaly Gutted ,he was great musician and guy met years back. Mo and me had great fun together with all the band our love to best to the family and friends x

    • Mike used to stAy with me And my wife in the 7 8ties we first met in Spain on holiday l am gutted been trying to find him can you hook me up with his wife Maggie or his son just found out I used to go to air records and other gigs with him we once sang my eyes can’t see in a music shop in manchester with key boards I am so sad today I never forgot him or Middleton or Peter or his mum or his voice

  2. Mike Howells RIP. Use to hang around with Mike and his group Rockslide when they use to live above a shop on Oldham Road with his parents in Ancoats. Have some very good memories of that era, with Mike and others, the Cheshire Cheese, The Wine Cellar and the gigs in working mens clubs up in the north east. It was me who introduced him to his wife “Maggie” Eternal Rest Mike.


  3. Dave Burke (An Old Ancoats Lad)

    Only recently discovered, in the course of researching material for my first novel which is set in Manchester during the period 1966 – 1972, that Mike had passed away. Moreover, I was delighted to learn that Mike and Pete had enjoyed great success with the Drones. Unfortunately, I was not aware of their exploits as I was absent from Manchester during 1976 – 1982 (working on oil rigs, living in South Africa for a short period, and working in Libya) when the boys were enjoying their success. I can only echo the sentiments of the other contributors: Mike and Pete were terrific lads. I had many a good drink with their father, Norman. My belated but sincere condolences to Mike’s widow Maggie and to his son on their sad loss. Likewise, to Pete on the sad loss of Colette. I have no way of knowing whether Pete’s Mum and Dad are still with us. If they are not please accept my condolences. If Pete sees this message, or is alerted to it by family or friends, then I can be contacted here in London by e-mail or on my landline number (0208-780-0229).

    RIP Colette and Mike.

    Regards, Dave Burke, April 2017, London

  4. I first met the Drones in a practice session in an old warehouse on Oxford Street in Manchester in 1978, when I was looking for a Marshall 100 watt head amp. At first sight Mike and I bonded together really well. He was a real friendly guy, I remember he was extremely good looking and had the James Dean look about him sort of thing, with his leather jacket and we hung out together for a short while. I was limited to the freedom that Mike had because at a young age I was married with a young child, Mike was in the same situation really. When we lost touch, I went with a friend to see my faveroute band Thin Lizzy on the “Live and dangerous” tour at Bell Vue and to my surprise Mike and his band the Drones were supporting Thin Lizzy. I believe the Drones stepped in at the last minute when the original support band had to cancel. Mike was a fantastic guy and I wish I still had contact with him over the years. I did often think of him even now because he was such a good friend and extremely talented. I sold the amp only 2 years ago, it still had the Drones printed on the back panel, wish I had kept it now. I am shocked, he was younger than me also. I wish Mikes family well. Best wishes. John Saville Crowther

  5. I’ve only just come across this. I used to watch Mike and Pete in Rockslide – always played Collyhurst “festival” I also remember Colette. So sad to hear Pete and Colette have passed. Myself and my friend could knock in their door in Ancoats and they could always come down for a chat. Great memories – they usedvto do a great cover of Ain’t No Sunshine


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