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You are in: Manchester > Places > Manchester places > Mapping the 'Dirty Old Town'

Some of Salford's musical heroes

Some of Salford's musical heroes

Mapping the 'Dirty Old Town'

It's well-known that some of Manchester's musical greats are actually Salfordians. Now, that is being celebrated by the Salford Music Map, which charts the people and places who have formed the city’s musical history - and there's a few surprises.

While Joy Division/New Order bass ace Peter Hook, punk poet John Cooper Clarke and superstar tenor Russell Watson's Salford roots are well-documented, what might come as more of a shock is that one of its most famous sons actually denied he was ever born there!

Below, we look back at some of the inclusions on the music map and find out just how they are linked to Salford:

Ewan MacColl

Ewan MacColl

Ewan MacColl – not a Scot - 1915

Despite Ewan’s most famous song, ‘Dirty Old Town’, being inspired by Salford, the legendary folk singer actually denied his roots for a long time, saying that he moved to the city in 1922 from Scotland.

However, records clearly show his parents were living in Coburg Street, Lower Broughton (now Heath Avenue) when James Henry Miller - as he was christened - was born in 25 January 1915. It’s thought his claims of false origins were to do with the fact that his political activities made him a target for surveillance by the Security Services.

The Hollies

The Hollies

Graham Nash – Skinner Street to supergroup – 1940/50s

Singer-songwriter Graham Nash may have been born in Blackpool, but his childhood move (in the 1940s) to Skinner Street (now James Henry Avenue) in Ordsall is the reason for his career in music. His house was just around the corner from Salford Lads Club where Graham rehearsed with his neighbour Allan Clarke.

The pair formed The Two Teens, who became The Fourtones, who became The Deltas, who became The Hollies. Their international success led to Graham meet David Crosby and form the supergroup Crosby, Stills Nash and Young.

Anthony Wilson

Anthony Wilson

Anthony Wilson – Mr Salford? - 1950

Tony Wilson is often been referred to as ‘Mr Manchester’, but the truth is that the legendary impresario and broadcaster was born 20 February 1950 at Hope Hospital (now Salford Royal) in Eccles and was as proud a Salfordian as you’ll find.

Indeed, such was his civic pride that when he introduced Joy Division for the first time on TV, he said that they were “a Manchester band, apart from the guitarist, who comes from Salford. Very important difference that.”

Tim Burgess

Tim Burgess

Tim Burgess – West Salford Boy - 1967

In the past, The Charlatans have been accused of leaping on the Manchester bandwagon without just cause, but a closer look at lead singer Tim Burgess shows that he has more of a claim than most to such things.

The North Country Boy was born in Salford on 30 May 1967 and lived on Linkfield Drive in Boothstown until the age of nine. So enamoured was he by the city that as soon as he could, he moved back to Ordsall, spending many a night partying at Nine Acre Court flats – which would later become the name of a song on The Charlatans’ eponymous 1995 album.

Mark E Smith of The Fall (photo by Joel Fildes)

Mark E Smith (c) Joel Fildes

Mark E Smith – a job of some import – 1970s

Mark E Smith may be indelibly linked with North Manchester, but The Fall frontman was actually born in Broughton, and while his family made the switch to Prestwich in Bury early in his life, he retained a link to the area, and could even have become a Salford shipping tycoon, rather than a songwriter.

Before The Fall, he worked at Manchester Docks (Salford Quays) in the mid 1970s, dealing with import and export paperwork. The job wasn’t enough for his ever-active mind and he made use of the office stationary to write prose and poetry, before quitting in favour of his newly formed band in 1976.

Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto

Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto

Buzzcocks – the church of punk - 1976

Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley met at Bolton Institute of Technology and made their Buzzcocks debut there, but they would missed their crucial break without help from Lower Broughton’s St Boniface Church.

In June 1976, the pair brought the Sex Pistols to Manchester for a show. Due to Howard’s neighbours complaining about the noise from his Lower Broughton Road flat, they hadn’t rehearsed enough to take the support slot. A month later, when the Pistols returned, they were ready, as they had moved band practice to St Boniface church hall.

In October 1976, despite already being on a rocket ride to success, Buzzcocks returned to St Boniface to play a ‘thank you’ gig, to an audience who were mostly nine year olds.

Nico

Nico

Nico – Salford girl – 1980s

There can be few more iconic figures in 60s New York than the German singer and model Nico, but with her fame came a heroin addiction so bad that she fled the Big Apple to escape it – eventually turning up in Salford in the early 1980s.

She lived in and around Singleton Road in Broughton Park – it’s said that she chose the area because it reminded her of Berlin – sharing a 'domestic relationship' with John Cooper Clarke and recording a version of her Velvet Underground collaboration, ‘All Tomorrow's Parties’, with Factory producer Martin Hannett before she eventually moved on again, to Spain.

Salford Lads Club

Salford Lads Club

The Smiths – All lads together - 1986

Stephen Wright’s iconic image of Morrissey, Johnny Marr, Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce leaning on the bollards outside Salford Lads Club might be the most imitated photo ever, but it also one of the most hated – if you ask Johnny Marr anyway.

According to the guitarist, he never wanted that shot to be used as he wasn’t happy with it, but ‘someone else’, as he diplomatically puts it, chose to use it anyway. Like it or not, its inclusion has ensured the Lads Club is a tourist destination for music fans from across the world and made it one of the most recognisable buildings in Salford.

Gary Barlow

Gary Barlow

Gary Barlow – couldn't be magic - 1989

The Willows Variety Centre in Weaste has spent four decades providing solid entertainment for its regulars and every year since the late 70s, that has included an annual Search For A Star competition. Amongst those who have braved the competition are Lisa Stansfield, Cleopatra and Rowetta, but possibly its most famous entrant – and runner-up – is Gary Barlow.

Back in 1989, Gary was beaten into third place by five piece The Hat Band and guitarist Sally Ann McKillop, being let down by both his stage presentation and star potential – and while he rectified the latter, anyone who’s seen Take That knows that dancing is still not his finest asset.

50 Cent

50 Cent

50 Cent – a blueprint for success – 2005

'Fiddy' may seem like a very odd inclusion on the Salford map, but he was the first artist to record at Blueprint Studios on Queen Street in Greengate - in fact, the rapper came in before the studio had even been built!

In October 2005, studio manager Tim Thomas got a call from a nearby hotel, who said a guest wanted to use it to record some 'clean' versions of his tracks. Despite it being near midnight, he agreed and was soon entertaining 50 Cent and his entourage with tea – which the US rapper had never tried before.

Since then, Blueprint’s clients have included Duran Duran, Smokey Robinson, Justin Timberlake, The Ting Tings, The Courteeners and Elbow, who recorded their Mercury Prize winning album, The Seldom Seen Kid, there.

Katie White (c) Karen McBride

Katie White (c) Karen McBride

The Ting Tings – they started something - 2007

The Ting Tings' gigs at Islington Mill across the summer of 2007 are this generation's 'Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall' shows – many more people than actually attended swear they were there. Those that were witnessed the birth of a pop sensation, as Katie White and Jules De Martino forged their tunes and their mythology with a series of stunning shows.

They had set up shop in the Mill - recording and performing there amongst the poets, painters and potters who occupy the other studios - as a way of escaping the pressures of the music industry. That escapism and freedom to express themselves worked brilliantly and led to 'We Started Nothing', their number one album.

The Salford Music Map is launched on Friday 24 October as part of the exhibition, 'Quiffs, Tiffs and Riffs' at Salford Museum & Art Gallery. The exhibition runs until Wednesday 28 October 2009

last updated: 23/10/2008 at 16:20
created: 23/10/2008

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