by Michael Patrick O'Leary
Roger Eagle at 355 snapped by Steve Hopkins with laundry in background
The 355 Wilbraham Road Nexus
On the morning of 24 October 1971, I heard a peremptory rapping on the door of my attic room at 355 Wilbraham Road, Whalley Range. I tentatively opened the door and a huge, gruff, grizzly bear of a man thrust a vinyl album at me. “I believe it’s your birthday. Take this”. With that, he retreated to his own room in the basement. The album was Seatrain. The six-foot-four grizzly bear with eyebrows meeting over his nose was Roger Eagle.
I met Roger briefly in the 60s and re-met him in the early 70s through my Wilbraham Road connections. My friend Paul Burke (an alumni of Xaverian College) introduced me to Annie O’Malley at a gig at Manchester Polytechnic. Annie introduced me to her Loreto Convent classmate Cathy Hopkins. I got to know Cathy’s brother Steve who was being left in charge of the house at Wilbraham Road while his parents emigrated to what was then still Southern Rhodesia.
Rockettes Annie, Cathy and Lois
Frank Rodriguez and me at 355. Note the greasy hair and Manchester City away strip.
Steve Hopkins was a friend at Xaverian of Martin Hannett who went on to be a legendary record producer (Joy Division, Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, Durutti Column, Buzzcocks, New Order, Nico). Steve is now teaching physics at Durham University. In those days, as well as being my landlord, he played keyboards for The Invisible girls, John Cooper Clarke’s backing group. He also recorded with Velvet Underground chanteuse Nico during her sojourn in Manchester (I am told I was once at the same party as her above a Co-op near Manchester City’s football ground. I do remember being there, but I cannot claim to have seen her). Martin Hannett was a regular visitor at 355 as were the band Greasy Bear (who were sort of managed by Roger) which morphed into Alberto y Lost Trio Paranoias. Annie O’Malley, Cathy Hopkins and Lois Hilton sang in a group called the Rockettes.
Rockettes Cathy Hopkins and Lois Hilton
Roger had a habit of press-ganging fellow-residents to help him out with his musical promotions. Many was the rainy night (usually a Sunday, when I was dreading going to work in the morning) when I would be dragged out of my room and driven off to some god-forsaken spot like Preston looking for venues for his ventures. Sometimes Roger would hire a car and Paul Burke did the driving, as Roger at that time had not learned to drive. Sometimes a van would appear and we would all pile in. Paul Burke has memories of these kidnappings.“Roger , Padraig and myself went off to some club/dancehall in Burnley I think and I felt like we were in ‘duelling banjos’ country, a long, boring drive there and back. To this day I have no idea what was in Roger’s mind about these visits.” I have hallucinatory memories of being in the dark in a depressing town I did not recognise with Jo Jo Gunne playing on the radio.
Me and Cathy and Liz Regan at Paul’s wedding. Yes Cathy was tall but I was standing on a lower step
Paul also brings back to my mind some of the warp and woof of daily life at 355. “I fondly remember being summoned by him late at night to play several smoke-filled hours of Scrabble, which usually ended at around 3-4 am. We had some great games.” I remember those as quite terrifying because Roger was determined to win every game.
With Helen East and Rockettes Annie and Cathy 1992
Who Was Roger Eagle?
Roger Eagle was a man who could count among his friends Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Rod Stewart, Captain Beefheart and Mick Hucknall. Despite this, he lived in penury for most of his life and died too young at the age of 56. He was once employed for a pittance by Bill Drummond, manager of The Teardrop Explodes and hit-maker with the Justified Ancients of MuMu and KLF. Drummond once burned a million pounds as a publicity stunt.
Roger’s life was one of poorly managed finances, escapes, squalid living conditions. His enthusiasm rarely dimmed and everywhere he went some kind of music scene happened. His zeal and knowledge probably could not have been made financially exploitable because he would not allow himself to be trapped in an office as a high-power executive.
Why Did Roger Eagle Matter?
Why should Roger have been more financially secure? How did he know such rock luminaries?
As a DJ and promoter he was immensely influential in the development of in Britain of urban blues, R&B, Northern Soul, British Rock, Reggae, Punk, Indie and New Wave.
Memorabilia at Roger’s funeral
Roger’s unique career in music began when he was the DJ from 1963 at the Twisted Wheel, a disco in Brazennose Street, at the centre of the Manchester Mod Scene. In a 1985 interview with Mod fanzine The Cat, Roger recalled: “I walked in there one afternoon, when it was the Left Wing Coffee Bar, with a pile of Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley imports on Chess and Checker and this guy asked me if I knew anything about Rhythm’n’Blues.”
As well as DJ-ing Roger presented live acts such as Chuck Berry, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, T-Bone Walker, John Lee Hooker.“When Sonny Boy Williamson came over, he freaked over English girls wearing miniskirts. He was wandering around looking up all the girls saying ‘Heaven Hath Come Down’.” There are wonderful stories about what Sonny Boy got up to at Roger’s apartment at 504 Wilbraham Road.
At Roger’s flat at 504 Wilbraham Road – Sonny Boy Williamson with a lady whose friendship he purchased in Liverpool for GBP40 per day. Apparently, among her many talents, she was a good cook.
In an interview Roger recalled: “The Stones came down to the club and they were standing in the coffee bar having a cup of coffee. The kids were standing round them – just looking at them. Not talking to them – just looking. And I played all of the original tracks off their first album, which had just come out….’I’m A King Bee’ by Slim Harpo, ‘Walkin’ The Dog’ by Rufus Thomas, Arthur Alexander… They knew exactly what I was doing… I played them in exactly the same order as the LP. ”
Muddy Waters plays a hand
Roger with Sugar Pie de Santo and Howlin’ Wolf
Roger said: “I actually got on OK with The Stones. Brian Jones bought a copy of R&B Scene [Roger’s own magazine from the early/mid-60’s] from me when I was in London. Mick Jagger once bummed a cig off me. That sums up The Stones for me.”
Roger left the Twisted Wheel in mid-1967 (still only aged 25) partly because the demands of Northern Soul fans became too restrictive and boring. There was also the problem of remuneration. “I made them a fortune and they treated me like shit”, he said of the Abadi brothers, owners of the Twisted Wheel.
Roger Eagle’s first love was the black music of the 50s but his enthusiasms moved with the times. The venue at which he promoted “progressive” music in the late 60s was the Magic Village in Cromford Court.
“Progressive Music” has had its reputational ups and downs. I went through a phase of thinking it clever and important. Punk was supposed to have destroyed its pretensions but John Lydon is a fan of Peter Hammill (who lived in the Tower Block at Owens Park at the same time as me) and Van der Graaf Generator (I went to one of their recording sessions in 1970). I recall being impressed by the Dutch band Focus. I went to a gig of theirs at Manchester Polytechnic on November 1 1972 with Martin Hannett. I was deeply embarrassed when Martin kept shouting “Boogie!” at the band.
When I was at the Village, the ambiance was less than magical. It had some of the atmosphere of a squat – many people had occupied benches and ledges with sleeping bags and were fast asleep! On June 8 1968, I saw John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers featuring future Rolling Stone Mick Taylor and jazz trumpeter Henry Lowther, who played violin and cornet. Dick Heckstall-Smith on sax (Frank Rodriguez later taught him economics). Jon Hiseman (later with Coliseum) was on drums. This was around the time of the Bare Wires album.
Jethro Tull played the Village before issuing any records. I think it must have been the same night I saw them at Manchester University Union. Marc Bolan also played the Village, as did Roy Harper, Pink Floyd, Incredible String Band, Joe Cocker and the Grease Band. John Constantine reminisces :”I recall hanging David Bowie’s coat up one Friday night and charging him six pence!”
Sometimes a larger venue was required – the Houldsworth Hall next to Kendall’s on Deansgate. I saw Country Joe and the Fish there – although Barry Melton was still on lead guitar I recall being told that most of the band were remnants of Janis Joplin’s Big Brother and the Holding Company. The band, minus Joe McDonald, came into the burger bar on Deansgate where I and my friend Roger Amos were eating. Roger Amos recalls:” They were very non-rock & roll, Southern polite – ‘Yes sir, nice to know you enjoyed the show…’ I learned later from someone I knew vaguely, who was a minor support act that night, that the guitarist had to virtually beat up the band to get them out on stage after shooting up – or so he claimed.”
There will be no plaque commemorating the Magic Village. The site was destroyed when the Provisional IRA blew up the Manchester Arndale Centre.
The Seatrain album Roger gave me for my 25th birthday was a promotional demo given to him by the record company because he had organised a concert for them at Liverpool Stadium. I had been press-ganged into helping out at the concert. I can’t remember what duties I performed but I do remember getting there quite early and trudging around Liverpool in the cold and rain. I can still feel the special Liverpool rain making its way up my flared denims by osmosis.
Paul Burke did more than me on the Liverpool stadium thing: “My job was that of driver/chauffeur and general factotum. At the gigs, this involved anything from getting a bottle of Remy Martin brandy for Marc Bolan, taking the band ‘Yes’ to the pub and buying them countless rounds of beer. Also getting whiskey for Canned Heat and pulling the plugs on Maggie Bell and ‘Stone The Crows’ when they would not come off stage, were also some of my not too onerous duties. There were long periods of acute boredom punctuated by the odd moment of terror- Maggie Bell was a fearsome sight when angry.”
Annie O’Malley was also press-ganged. She remembers Keef Hartley pinching her bottom.
I cannot remember how I got to Liverpool Stadium, what I did there or how I got home. I remember listening to Seatrain rehearsing all afternoon in a very professional manner and recall that they did a storming performance in the evening. For me they out-classed the headline band, Traffic. I am a great fan of Traffic and greatly respect Steve Winwood but that evening Traffic were somewhat shambolic. I was positioned fairly close to the stage and sometimes backstage. I could clearly see the exasperation on Winwood’s face as Chris Wood floundered about petulantly complaining about the equipment and fluffing his notes. Another clear memory is Rebop taking a lustful interest in Steve Hopkins’s girl friend, Lois.
Chris Lee went on from Greasy Bear and the Albertos to be a playwright. His musical Sleak, ran for several months in London’s Royal Court Theatre and the Roundhouse and also had a run in New York. Today he is Dr CP Lee of the Film Studies Department at Salford University. He reminisces on the Stadium website:
“Cold and ugly, with very primitive seating, with a boxing ring in the middle…There was still a smell of the boxing ring about the Stadium, liniment and embrocation – the dressing room used to reek of it”.
That site also includes memories of Sutherland Brothers and Quiver member Gavin Sutherland (they wrote the Rod Stewart hit Sailing). He recalls falling through a hole as he left the stage and descending rapidly down the layers of scaffolding on which the stage was built. When Can played rain was coming through the roof.
Keith of the Heavy Metal Kids recalls a heavy glass plate falling from the ceiling and striking Ronnie Thomas a glancing blow.
In his recently published book Sit Down! Listen to This! Bill Sykes provides a list of of Roger’s Stadium gigs which includes:
Rod Stewart, Status Quo, Queen, Captain Beefheart, Led Zeppelin, Mott the Hoople (with Max Wall), Frank Zappa, Kevin Ayers, Free, Hawkwind, Argent, Yes, Bonzo Dog Band, Sha Na Na, Faces, Canned Heat, Terry Reid, Incredible String Band, Uriah Heep, Black Sabbath, Chuck Berry, Jethro Tull, David Bowie, Rory Gallagher, Roxy Music, Mountain, Everley Brothers, Procol Harum, Ten Years After, Sutherland Brothers, Curved Air, The Kinks, Slade, Lou Reed, Steeleye Span, Thin Lizzy, Supertramp, Gentle Giant, Focus, Deep Purple, Can, Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come, Wishbone Ash, Bad Company, Judas Priest, Barclay James Harvest, Cockney Rebel, Faust, Tangerine Dream, Love, Camel, Osibisa, Dr Feelgood, T Rex, Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance, AC/DC, Ultravox.
Bill Sykes’s list does not include Traffic supported by Seatrain. The Stadium website gig list does include Traffic for May 30 1971 but says “cancelled”. It wasn’t. I was there.
By the time Roger co-founded (with Ken Testi and later joined by Pete Fulwell) Eric’s on Mathew Street, Liverpool (near the legendary Cavern, shrine to The Beatles), in 1976, I had lost touch with him. Some say they named it Eric’s because it was a simple, unpretentious Anglo Saxon name unlike other clubs of its era (e.g. Annabelle’s Tiffany’s and Samantha’s). I have also heard that it was named in honour of the great jazz multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy. I know that among his musical enthusiasms Roger loved the work of Charles Mingus and John Coltrane, both of whom Dolphy worked with.
In 1976, I acquired my first mortgage and a house in the east Manchester suburb of Denton. My step-son attended Audenshaw Grammar School, where there was a fellow pupil called Mick Hucknall, another Denton resident. Mick Hucknall has just confirmed to me his relationship with Roger Eagle: “He and I were very close friends. He did infact manage me and the Frantic Elevators for well over a year and I used to also DJ for him at ADAMS club in Liverpool which was after his ERICS experience.”
Eric’s was a membership only venue whereby members had to buy a yearly membership to enter the club. One of the more beneficial ideas was to provide membership for ‘under 18′s’, which allowed younger music fans to see both local and national bands during a ‘matinee’ show. This was a good way of building an audience and a market. Roger co-opted clothes shops to publicise the club to what he called the “taste-makers”.
The club lasted until March 1980. The story, according to Wikipedia was that the club was raided and closed by police because drugs, which was ironic considering Roger’s strong stand against drugs at The Twisted Wheel. Pete Fulwell said it was not as simple as the police closing the club and suggested they visited regularly, hinting at bribes. Roger told the Guardian: “I’m not anti-police. I respect the values they are there to protect”. Roger felt he had dealt responsibly with the police. “It was shameful. They were using tactics against us they would use against the IRA. All of a sudden you had representatives of law and order literally running in and hurting people”.
Eric’s was legendary as a breeding ground for Indie and New Wave bands, but also played host to jazz-men Johnny Griffin and Stanley Clarke.
Others who appeared there were:
The Stranglers, Sex Pistols, Flamin’ Groovies, The Damned, Dave Edmunds Rockpile, Buzzcocks, The Clash, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Ramones + Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, XTC, The Adverts, Adam and the Ants, Boomtown Rats, Ian Dury, The Fall, Robert Gordon + Link Wray, Colosseum, Sham 69, The Rezillos, Richie Havens, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Doll by doll, The human League, The Specials,, Split Enz, Teardrop Explodes + Echo and the Bunnymen, Gang of four, John Martyn, X-Ray Specs, David Johannsen, The Police, Joy Division + Cabaret Voltaire, The Undertones, Joe Jackson, Jonathan Richman, The Pretenders, The Cure, The B52s, Iggy Pop, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Simple Minds, Madness, The Selecter, Toyah, Rockin’ Dopsie, Steel Pulse, The Beat, Bad Manners.
The main problems were financial and Roger did not cover himself in glory. To cut a sad story short he disappeared leaving Pete Fulwell with the debts.
There were protest marches when Eric’s closed. Plans to re-open Eric’s came under strong criticism from those who did not relish the prospect of something that meant a lot to many people being museumised for current profit.
After Eric’s, Roger went on a bit of a wandering fugue. He returned to Manchester and tried a new venture at Rafters in Oxford Street , with Dougie James of Soul Train and Paul Young of Sad Café. Mick Hucknall says Roger tried to help his career and introduced him to the music of Mingus. Roger then moved back to Liverpool and ran Adam’s where he booked Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Bo Diddley and Junior Walker. He also tried an arts centre cum recording complex called Crackin’ Up and lived in a freezing shed in the roof space of a warehouse.
Roger left Liverpool again in a hurry (for reasons that remain mysterious but probably had much to do with large debts and small income) leaving some of his record collection behind. At one point he fetched up in Bangor, North Wales, where there are reports of Mick Hucknall visiting him. He did DJing around town and at the University.
Bruce Mitchell of the Albertos reports that Roger was discovered in Anglesey at a popular restaurant in Beaumaris. Roger ran away with the elegant blonde Swedish proprietress and they set up the Lord Buckley in the smart Bristol suburb of Clifton “a Ferrari on every street corner” according to Roger’s brother John. This venture did not work out. Mike Tobin, manager of Stackridge, recalls Roger phoning him sounding “terrified” and asking Tobin to drive him out of Bristol to Oxford.
Roger had gravitated to the outskirts of Blackburn by the time he was headhunted for The International. This venue was on the corner of Dickinson Road and Anson Road. In my final days at Manchester University in 1969, I had lived in a depressing house down an unmade road, Harley Avenue, within spitting distance of the nightclub Oceans 11. The only time I went inside the venue was in the early 70s for an office stag night, the highlight of which was the stripping of Manchester legend, Big Julie, a mountainous foul-mouthed woman who wobbled when she breathed. One punter recalls: “She came out as Nell Gwynne with a basket of oranges and threw them out to the crowd. The crowd responded with ‘Get ‘em on’ rather than the more traditional ‘Get ‘em off'” . The patrons of Oceans 11 mistakenly thought they were sophisticated, in their drunkenness fantasising that they could emulate Sinatra or Dean Martin.
In 1985, Oceans 11 became The International and under Roger’s guidance became one of the leading music venues in the world. Gareth Evans and Matthew Cummins owned the nightclub and managed The Stone Roses who also frequented the club. Evans and Cummins were alleged to have underworld connections. Manchester rock writer Mick Middles describes Evans as “a loose cannon of the bombastic variety, prone to extraordinary scams which zip, this way and that, from a central work ethic…Evans would use his underworld influence to decorate the entire city centre with promotional posters”.
Roger’s booking and promoting know-how resulted in an impressive list of artists performing at The International.
Simply Red, Thomas Mapfumo, REM, The Last Poets, Hugh Masakela, Toots and the Maytals, Happy Mondays, The Waterboys, Fairport Convention, Hüsker Dü, World Party, Roger McGuinn, Loudon Wainwright, Robert Cray, Jimmy Smith, Curtis Mayfield, Marc Almond, Courtney Pine, Commander Cody, Roy Harper, The Pogues, The Stone Roses, Lone justice, Big audio Dynamite, Michelle Shocked, Steve Earle, Richard Thompson, The Long riders,, Gil Scott-Heron, Albert King, 10,000 Maniacs, Bhundu Boys, The Sugarcubes, Hothouse Flowers, Wayne Shorter, Microdisney, Throwing Muses, Red hot Chilli Peppers, Fairground Attraction, My Bloody Valentine, James, Lester Bowie, Ali Farka Touré, Green on Red, Tom Tom Club, Jane’s Addiction, American Music Club, The La’s, Deborah Harry, Melissa Etheridge, The Charlatans, The Lemonheads, Manic Street Preachers,, Christy Moore, Maxi Priest, Augustus Pablo, Johnny Thunders, Dudu Pukwana, Gregory Isaacs, Motorhead, Jeff Healey Band, Salif Keita, Pixies, Fela Anikulape Kuti, The Beautiful South, Ziggy Marley.
Roger was not destined to be rich or happy as long as he was dependent on people like Cummins and Evans.
The International 1 is now the Turkish supermarket “Venus Foods”. The “International 2″ building has been demolished and replaced by a gated apartment building complex
Roger moved to the small Derbyshire town of Whaley Bridge and commuted to the International. He told Pete Fulwell that he had lost the appetite for the club and told others that he had moved to a cottage because of his health. He smoked at least 40 mentholated cigarettes each day and his diet consisted of huge fry-ups and curries.
Almost to the end, he had projects on the go and many of his ideas were good. He had so much experience of the music business but could not turn his knowledge into financial success or even security.
Tom McMaster once played at the Liverpool Stadium as support for Chuck Berry.Tom has kindly sent me some pictures he took at Roger’s funeral.
Dimitri, bass player for Drive In Rock
Alan Wise, who brought Velvet Underground chanteuse Nico to Manchester.
Dougie James of Soul Train fame
Many of those quoted in Bill Sykes’s book comment on something intimidating about Roger Eagle. Roger Amos introduced me to Roger Eagle in, I think, 1967. Roger A now recalls : “He was a slightly alarming character; simulating avuncular maybe, but probably only while it suited him – that was how I read him at the time.” Eagle would have been 25 then.
Many in Sykes’s book echo my own experience that Roger Eagle rarely referred to anyone by their forenames. It was always surnames like at school. Although he did not go to university he was educated at the Dragon School whose other alumni include Sir John Betjeman, John Mortimer, Hugh Gaitskell and Nevil Shute. Roger’s brother Martin had a career in the aeronautical industry. Martin says their father (a military man) treated people as objects and may have had Asperger’s Syndrome. “We didn’t love him and he didn’t love us”.
Val Randall knew Roger from the Magic Village days. She told Roger when he was dying: “You used to scare the crap out of me sometimes”. She is six foot tall. He said “Well, let’s face it, Val, somebody had to do it. It had to be me didn’t it”. Nicky Crewe reminisces about the same era: “Tall enough to appear remote, with dark curly hair and a booming middle class voice, he was an imposing figure. I realised later that he was far more at ease with musicians than hippy teenage girls, but I liked him.”
Many remark on a certain vulnerability. Others tell of small acts of kindness delivered with embarrassment.
Roger was born in Oxford. Distantly related to George Bernard Shaw, his mother, Dorothy, edited the Oxford Literary Guide To The British Isles.
Despite his financial difficulties throughout much of his life he resisted claiming welfare benefits, preferring to rely on his entrepreneurial skills. Those skills were undoubted but he never managed to become rich through them. Simply Red’s manager, Elliot Rashman said: “He had times when he was on the cusp of making big money but something within himself made him not do that- otherwise he would have been Harvey Goldsmith, he would have been in an office and it wouldn’t have been about music.”
Roger Eagle’s Legacy
Roger Eagle died of cancer in North Wales in 1999. In his Guardian obituary Bob Dickinson wrote that Roger: ”was an influential DJ, record collector, club promoter, and musical mentor. Without him, performers like Mick Hucknall of Simply Red, would have missed a vital element in their musical education and their vocal approach – when Hucknall’s punk band, the Frantic Elevators, split, the singer spent weeks in Liverpool with Roger absorbing his knowledge of Afro-American and Afro-Caribbean music.”
When I knew him, he was living in the coal hole at 355 Wilbraham Road. Later he risked hypothermia living in a unconverted loft space of a Liverpool warehouse. Judy Williams told Bill Sykes: “When Roger was really struggling in Whaley Bridge and was short of money, the help that he asked for was not given generously. I think they did help him to get his house but it wasn’t seen as a gift really, he owed them for that”.
As Paul Burke recalls: “He genuinely believed that more music would make the world a better place. Although this sounds rather hippyish in tone, he was nevertheless right wing in his attitudes towards the poor and the weak, although this was a result of his rather posh background. He did not believe in taxes or governments really; this chimes with his views on the poor. Politically he was close to the adherents of the present day Tea Party ‘faction’ in US politics. Oddly though, he never showed any real interest in being rich or making real money for himself.”
Most who knew him saw him as an educator. He was known as the king of the blues compilation tape. Let Steve Hopkins’s view stand as a specimen: “The important thing about Roger is how he influenced a whole generation of Manchester musicians. He influenced their taste and was responsible for educating them”.
Mygoodself in 1992 with screenwriter Helen East and Ian Wilson of Sad Cafe
Only yesterday Mick Hucknall told me: “He and I were very close friends…The most romantic, idealist R&B missionary I have ever known bless him!”
Six years ago, I went to Chorlton-cum-Hardy to visit my dear friends of 40 years standing, Paul Burke and Annie O’Malley. Paul and I took a stroll along Wilbraham Road and stopped outside number 355, beyond whose portals once walked Roger Eagle, Martin Hannett, the Invisible Girls, Jilted John, Eggs Over Easy. The building is now a care home for elderly people. Perhaps one day there will be a blue plaque on the wall.
Hello Mr Colman, I very much enjoyed this trip down memory lane and thank you for honouring Roger in this way. He and I were very close friends. He did in fact manage me and the Frantic Elevators for well over a year and I used to also DJ for him at ADAMS club in Liverpool which is was after his ERICS experience. I congratulate you on keeping Rogers memory alive. The most romantic, idealist R&B missionary I have ever known bless him! Regards Mick Hucknall.
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Thank you Mick for taking the time to read and comment. I have amended the article in the light of your comment, taking out the hearsay that offended you. Please accept my apologies. Is it true that you bought Roger a car? what do you think of Bill Sykes’s book?
I don’t know any of these people personally Padraig, but find this article well written and full of details of which I knew nothing.
I find it very informative though. And interesting, indeed.
I enjoy reading you
Thank you so much, Suzy. More to come, I hope.
What an entertaining memoir. I’m a little too young to have participated in the late 60s shenanigans, but a lot of this is familiar to me. Big Julie indeed. Wasn’t she “Big 57 inch Julie” in the small ads in the Manchester Evening News?
Rob, you are fortunate to have been too young to appreciate Big Julie.57 inches if she was a day. Thank you for reading. Glad you enjoyed .
wow this is fascinating, spent far too long reading this when I should be working! Brought bank happy memories of great nights out at the international I & II, Rafters etc in the late 70’s early 80’s, I’m prob a bit younger to have been truly contemporary with the shenanigans above and so didn’t know of Roger or that he was so influential on our vibrant music scene. Thanks for a happy read!
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Thanks a million Jimmy. Glad you enjoyed. More to come. Please keep reading and commenting.
I really loved the article-you definitely should have written a book on Roger.
Where did you get those amazing photos, excellent.
Musical memoirs- you need to diversify here, Padraig
Glad you enjoyed it Paul and thank you for your own invaluable assistance. No disrespect to Bill Sykes. I think he was ill-served by his publishers.Some of the photos came from an old box of memories. I must scan them and archive them before they finally succumb to the Sri Lankan climate.
When you do archive them can you put them in Dropbox or a similar shared archive? that would be great Padraig
I am a bit of a Neanderthal Luddite, Paul but i will do some research and find out about Dropbox.
My thanks for such an excellent article. I never really knew much about Roger’s incredible career – real eye opener.
Thanks Paul. your Manchester Beat was a great help in my research.
Very interesting article. I wrote a review of Bill Sykes’ biography for Blues & Rhythm (just out this week) and sent it to Manchester Beat for their website. An interesting guy all round. I recall he once owed B&R money for adverts for the gigs he put on in North Wales, failed to respond – but we got the money eventually!
Thanks Tony I’ll get back to you later. Just off to Colombo to meet the Irish cricket team.
An excellent article, took me right back – it must have been the opening night of the “Village” and Roger was on the door, a group of young men in suits were trying to gain entrance when we arrived (a typical throng of art-school scruffs) Roger waived the be-suited lads away telling them to “Make way for some REAL people”! Which we thought was hilarious. Chris Lee’s band was Jacko Ogg and the Head People and as he used to never tire of saying “people keep asking which one of you is Jacko – I tell them he doesn’t exist!”. Chris turned up at the first “Surrealist meeting” in a flat on Edge Lane, Chorlton, along with a bunch of poets (Dave Stringer being the only one I can remember) and a gaggle of artists. The Northern Open Workshop (NOW) was formed that evening, despite what Adrian Henri said about it being formed in Sheffield. On another subject, I met Dick Heckstal-Smith in the Douglas Arms Bethesda several years ago (obviously!) , such a modest man too!
Thanks again for ogging my failing memory
Great article and brought back fond memories of the Village and myself and Dave Street, two 15 year olds who ‘knew’ everything about the scene telling Roger (he did ask us) who he should book ! He did book the Nice but said Pink Floyd were too dear ! From your article I see he did book them, and I missed them.
Thanks Rob. I’ll get back to you.
I remember Roger quite vividly from the Magic Village in the ’60’s and met him again later, in the early ’70’s. I remember the Rockettes who did backing vocals for ‘Drive In Rock’ (not Driving Rock as the caption of Dimitri says). Drive In Rock did early rock and roll such as the ‘Book of Love’ and I remember Cathy doing a solo for ‘Stupid Cupid’. They were a great band and were managed by Roger Eagle. I remember Cathy and Annie and another Rockette called Suzanne who I seem to remember went out with Jimmy Hibbert of Dangermouse fame, although I think they were both working at On the 8th Day at that time. Drive In Rock gave themselves names like ‘Timmy Shirt’, ‘Max Headroom, ‘Edsel Odeon’. I remember Roger living in a flat in Blair Road around this time and he had a girfriend who lived over a charity shop on Burton Road. He was a lovely man and, when I was having problems, he took me to a Chinese Restaurant in Chorlton to have a chat. I also remember Chris Lee, Martin Hannett, and the names Julian Forrester, Alan Frost and Mike Don spring to mind. I saw some great groups at the Village – Jethro Tull, John Mayall, Edgar Broughton and I remember that the management flashed the lights if the drug squad arrived” He really was lovely bloke and I was upset to hear of his death at such a young age in 1999.
Thanks Alan.I’ll get back to you.
Thanks for the correction, Sally. It was indeed Drive In Rock. I remember that when I lived at 355 Martin Hannett had a girl friend called Suzanne O’Hara who had a sister called Caroline. Suzanne could take the caps off beer bottles with her teeth.Jimmy Hibbert had a girl friend called Pat Dooley who worked a t Eighth Day. She was with me at the Traffic gig at Liverpool Stadium. She was later the girl friend of Ian Wilson picture with me in the article. I remember Mike Don from my university days and later from Grass roots bookshop. The rumour at university was that he lived in someone’s garden shed.
I still have a framed picture of Drive In Rock as I used to share a flat with Roger Taylor aka Edsel Odeon! I remember them playing at the Art College and the lead singer getting beaten up after the gig. I used to love the ‘Wheel and, later on, the ‘Village. I used to go to ‘Aunties Kitchen’ earlier in the evening. Also, ‘Stoneground’, the ‘Edinburgh’, ‘Renos’ and the ‘Hardrock’ in Stretford (now B&Q) I saw Traffic, Bob Marley there. I also used to watch the Albertos at a club on Wilbraham Road in Chorlton – at the time I think it was the Lamplight but it used to change names regularly. I was never afraid of Roger Eagle as he was always very sweet to me. I remember going to the Wilbraham Rd house a couple of times although I seem to remember Roger living in a scruffy flat in nearby Blair Road.
Hello Mr Colman, I am trying to work out who you are. Barry – who worked for the dole office maybe? Anyway I am Susanne O’Hara, and I wasn’t in Drive In Rock, Pat Dooley was. Yes I was Martin Hannett’s girlfriend for many years – well past 355 Wilbraham Road days. Nice to see this page about Roger. I met Roger at Martin’s funeral, he suggested I … ‘do something that no one else has done’. Which is just what he did – he was a lovely bloke, felt safe around Roger, a real gentleman. All the best and good to see you again Barry, (if it is Barry). Susanne
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Ahh I see now you are Mike O’Leary, from you comment below. Good – glad to have cleared that one up. I remember you Mike but not that well. I remember you name more and that you lived at 355. Good to see your webpage here.
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Hi Susanne. Great to hear from you. Glad you like my blog. It must be 42 years since we last met! I am not surprised that you don’t remember me very well. I was fairly quiet and tended to merge into the background at Wilbraham Road. My path must have passed with quite a few people whom I don’t remember but are now in touch because of this article and Facebook. I am thinking of CP Lee, Nicky Crewe, Rowdy Yates, Jenny Slaughter, Julie Begley. I am still in touch with Annie O’Malley. She and Tom McMaster came to visit us in County Cork. I am also in touch with Paul Burke by e-mail and Cathy Hopkins through Facebook. I recall seeing you quoted in Mojo on the subject of Martin. I may ask you for some information myself. I did know that you were not a member of Drive-In Rock. How is Caroline?
Thanks for this really interesting article – almost a mini bio! I’m a great admirer (fan!) of Mick Hucknall and have heard him mention Roger many times, he dedicated his 2008 solo album “Tribute To Bobby” to him as Roger introduced Mick to the music of Bobby Bland. I knew nothing about roger Eagle…and now I know a lot more, thanks to you.
[…] Steve Hopkins was a friend at Xaverian of Martin Hannett who went on to be a legendary record producer (Joy Division, Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, Durutti Column, Buzzcocks, New Order, Nico). Steve is now teaching … […]
I enjoyed reading Padraig’s piece though I can’t remember him being around 355 Wilbraham Road.
The Zelig of Chorlton-cum-Hardy perhaps? Anyway some perceptive insights into the man and his music.
Bill Sykes contacted me late in his research but his excellent book has encourageded me to put fingers to keyboardand write about my recollections of Roger – indeed My Part in His Recall. http://www.johncrumpton.co.uk/page32.htm
Have a look
Thanks John. Don’t remember you either but it was a long time ago and we have all passed a lot of water since then. In them days I was known as Mike O’Leary and I was rather quiet and shy and kept in the background. Just going to check out your website and then i will get back to you.
I saw a whole lot of concerts when I was younger but not with these kinds of backstage connections. Interesting life – both of yours.
Focus was interesting, you were right about that. Jan Akkerman was one of the best guitarists I ever saw.
The comment about the rumour of Roger living in a tree house was interesting. I was told it was John Mayall in a garden in Didsbury !
I also heard that about John Mayall. I was referring to Mike Don living in a garden shed. Roger risked hypothermia living in a shed in a Liverpool warehouse.Thanks for reading Rob. Best wishes.
Fascinating memories, Padraig. Those were the days, huh?!! I managed to see Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd and even the Beatles in LA in the 60s – 70s and some members of The Animals used to like frequenting a Sri Lankan restaurant run by friends in LA, where we got quite pally.
I also want to add my thanks for sharing so many memories and anecdotes about Roger. I first became aware of Rogers existence in late 1968 after a mate told me about this all night music club – I ended up going there straight after my late shift as a bus conductor and still in my uniform! The following week a chap called Glyn(a tall guy with long straight blond hair who was a cartoonist for Grass Eye among other things) asked me if I had brought the bus with me as I said – he hadn’r realised I was pulling his leg! It was also Glyn that gave me the non de plume “Len Firewood” and I believe I featured as a cartoon under that name in at least one edition of the local underground magazine Grass Eye. Sadly I never got to know Roger on a conversational basis as I was somewhat shy and lacking in self confidence in those days. I remember seeing Joe Cocker buying a pie and a mug of tea one night in the village (from the cafe part of the club facing the stairs) he was there with the Greaseband on the saturday I think after he had appeared on Top Of the Pops for “Little Help With My Friends”. There were many other amazing bands I saw there including a very tight blues band called Savoy Brown who I thought were amazing – a friend of mine many years later who was on speaking terms with Roger told me what Roger thought of them “Fucking boogy woogy band – I won’t be booking them again!” lol
It was also the records that were played at the Magic Village that really opened up a totally new world of music for me – I remember listening to Thev Gift by the Velvet Underground one saturday night and suddenly without drugs it felt like I was actually in New York City! I have so many magical memories of the place too many to go into here, I shall always be grateful to Roger for making those possible.
As it happens I also know Cathy Hopkins from my time in Ashrams in Manchester (Withington and East Didsbury) and later in London – she has a great sense of humour and was always a good sport. The last I heard from her was not long after she got married (to a TV producer I think) and I hope she is well.
Thanks a lot. I am still in touch with Annie O’Malley who I think keeps in touch with Cathy. Must check out where Cathy is now.
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I just did a google on her and discovered that she has become a prolific author (55 books published in 33 counties according to her wiki entry). She is apparently living in North London according to one website. Anyway you can check out her website and twitter details here http://www.cathyhopkins.com/ 🙂
Thanks Len. I will check all that out.
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Ooops correction the website I referred to was out of date with it’s info she is currently living in Bath according to her “about” page – my bad.
An excellent read, brings back many happy memories of Eric’s and the Wharehouse Fleet Street. I remember Sonny Terry and Brownie Maghee at Adams, Bo Diddley at the Beer Kellar Mount pleasant. The entrance fee to Adams was £5 and the ticket was a badge.
Padraig – great article. And it summarises Roger and his various enterprises really well. I only really knew him in his Magic Village days and then later in the International.
A note for Sally – yup, the Albertos did indeed perform on a weekly basis at the Lamplight in Chorlton. At the time I think they were not allowed to use the name for contractual reasons and they played as the Charlie Parkas. Robbie Ferris (one-time roadie for the Pretty Things) used to drive up from Oxford every Wednesday just to see them. The Lamplight was run by a guy called Joe Something (Flannagan maybe) from Longford. Confusingly he ran it as the Lamplight during the week and the Coole Swan Bar at the weekends when it promoted traditional Irish music. I played there regularly with Mise Ceoil, Brogue and Sullivan’s Private Stock.
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Thanks for that interesting extra info Rowdy. Did we know each other in them days? My real name is Michael O’Leary (Michael Patrick Colman O’Leary).
Padraig – not sure. Maybe not. I was around quite a bit from ’64 to ’68. But I was away quite a lot playing – mainly London, Glasgow and Bristol – anywhere I could raise the cash for Class A. I got clean in ’69 and was away in the Isle of Arran for a couple of years. After that, I was involved with Lifeline Project on Mosely Street for many years.
My memories of Roger and Magic Village are really about the fluidity of the whole project. Roger always seemed to have something new happening and always seemed to be able to steer a new course when fresh winds blew. When I was with Elathan (Elathan – Celtic god of music, guardian of the Harp of Dagda – could we have got more pretentious?) we turned up at the Village after a gig (I think it must have been at MSG – this was around the time when outfits like ISB, Purple Gang and Trees were pioneering links between traditional music and ultra-cool) and Roger insisted we do a set. No idea who was supposed to be playing – maybe Third Ear because I think they did a set later – but if Roger thought it should happen, it happened! That might have been the night (though probably not!) that they had their PA gear stolen and chose to take it as a sign that the gods wanted them to go acoustic!!
When I came back to Manchester in the early ’70s I would occasionally see Roger around. I think he called in at the Lamplight a time or two. I also wrote a folk column for either Mole Express or Grass Eye (can’t remember which) as Jimmy Miller (Ewan MacColl’s real name). I remember it took a very hard line Marxist view of traditional music as the working class artistic inheritance and was very, very rude about some performers and other running dogs of capitalism! Eventually I was outed by Barry Seddon, the folk columnist for MEN. I think I stopped writing it shortly after that – though I did some articles on drugs and addiction and therapeutic communities which Mike (Don) used. I was also a technical witness for his defence when he was charged for selling books on cannabis cultivation. My recollection was that a lot of the other people in Grassroots Books rather left Mike swinging in the wind at that trial – but that might be a bit unfair.
They were pretty heady times. I remember that in the first couple of years at Lifeline we would regularly get calls from On the Eighth Day and the Baked Potato (both in New Brown Street then) to collect someone who’d crashed out. We’d bring them back to Mosely Street – that was basically how we built up our clientele!! We would cook a huge Christmas dinner in those days (actually on Christmas Day) and On the Eighth Day and Seven Miles Out (in Stockport) would always donate stock as presents. Roger, in those first few years, always donated a stack of records.
Sorry – long answer to a short question – the basic answer is that I don’t know if we met back then or not.
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Good to hear all that.We probably must have been in the same room at the same time some point. I got to know Roger mainly at 355 Wilbraham Road in 1970 to 1973, although i had met him when I was at the University from 1966 to 1969. I well remember Mike Don and spent at lot of time browsing in Grass Roots. I also knew a lot of the Eighth Day crowd – Pat Dooley. I’m still in touch with Annie O’Malley (and Tom her ex-husband).
Rowdy, I lived in Chorlton for many years and went to most of the Manchester clubs. They really were the best times! I used to be so stoned that I often ended the night/morning by climbing into Southern Cemetery and wandering around scaring myself shitless! I seem to remember you seeing a girl, Alison Duncan, who went to the same school as me!
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Sally – yup, that was me!! “They were the best of times and they were the worst of times”!! The Charlie Parkas at the Lamplight was a great gig. We were there for most of them. I came back to Scotland in 1993. But by then I think the Lamplight had entered the music history books. The International was still going I think. I remember seeing Richard Thompson and Flaco Jimenez there not that long before we left.
Thank you for reading and commenting Sally. Rowdy I saw Flaco Jiminez in a room above a pub in Crystal Palace. His sexto player looked like a villain in a spaghetti western.
Heh, heh!! Set list?? We don’ need your steenkin’ set list!! Touring Australia just now. Met a woman last night who used to live next door to Ray Lowry when he lived in Irlam/Cadishead. Sorry to hear he had died – but what a small world.
Didn’t know Ray Lowry had died.Just heard that another Manchester old friend died two years ago in Belfast. None of us getting any younger!
Came across your blog Padraig (Michael?) via CP Lee’s FB page and fascinated to read. I was at Man Uni 66-69 too and started 8th Day New Brown St) with Mike Slaughter, Brian Livingstone et al in 1970. I dont know if i met you but I remember Rowdy very well. We had this chill out space (wasn’t called that then) at 8th Day with big cushions and pink walls with purple dots. All the druggies made a bee line often collapsing over the patchouli counter en route. As I remember we somehow got introduced to Eugenie Cheesemond, psychiatrist specialising in drug addiction. There was an incongruous meeting at the Midland Hotel with Eugenie, the Bishop of Middleton ( father of Jenny and Kate Wickham who came in the shop), someone from Manchester United ( who had access to funds), Brian, Mike and me. And Lifeline was born!
I didn’t know Roger well but met him a few times mainly through Brian. I remember him visiting us in Hebden Bridge and cajoling us to get the HB contingent over to the Liverpool Stadium. Which we did several times. Why do the Small Faces come to mind? Thanks for the memories!
Dear Jenny, sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Christmas and all that. Within a few days I had three contacts about the Roger Eagle article. Jeff Barrett let me know about a series of interviews he had done, including one with CP Lee. Then CP Lee himself contacted me. I can’t believe that my path did not cross with yours. I spent some time at Eighth Day. Did you know Annie O’Malley? I’m still in touch with her. She came to visit us in Ireland. Tom McMaster came as well. He provided some of the photos for my article. In the early 70s, I visited Hebden Bridge with Annie when my friends Roger and Lora Amos lived there – Duck hill, Pecketwell. What subject did you do at the University? I did American Studies.
Thanks Padraig – I thoroughly enjoyed your blog on Roger and Manchester music. I visited the house on Wilbraham Road before, during and after Roger’s time there. You and I must have met in there and elsewhere too, but time is blurring the images I have stored in my mind and memory is a fickle, prancing little elf. However, I do recall the first time I met the most wonderful Steve Hopkins and that was when his band Gemini Zent emerged from Xav’s grammar school and launched a full scale assault on The Magic Village one evening in 1968, or maybe it was before that at one of The Blue Note Club’s ‘underground’ night in 1967… see what I mean about the elf?
Indeed Mike Don did live in a shed in the garden of a house on High Lane (how apt) in Chorlton, decades before it became known as ‘the Notting Hill of the North’. John Mayall lived in a tree house in Altrincham and, for a while, above a record shop in Rusholme. It got passed on from musician to musician until the early 70s. Saw Mike Don just last weekend in Rusholme, still book trading and very friendly as always. As for John Mayall five years ago at the Bridgewater Hall still roadying for himself, playing the set and sorting out his own merchandising.
Now, going back. Here is a tale, a strange trail of circumstance and coincidence involving Martin Hannett and myself. We went from the Wilbraham Road house to another one further down the road where a mysterious girl was supposed to be in possession of some dynamite Afghani hash. I didn’t meet her again, or even remember that night until thirty years later and we got married and it was ages before we put two and two together and realised how we’d originally met.
Wilbraham Road was an exotic mansion full of Marshall amps, beautiful, distant (it seemed to me) girls, the scent of patchouli, Magic Alex from London crashing there, Roger below stairs, wood panelling and staircases that led to chambers full of secrets.
Another tie-in would be the APE (‘All People Everywhere’ ) House on Burton Road was a building adjacent to the ironmongers, and home to Drive In Rock, another of Roger’s brain waves and all that that entails in terms of links to the Hopkins house. It is still spoken of in the long huts of the ancestors that 25,000 tabs of acid were hidden underneath the floorboards of the APE House, or cemented into the door step. Whatever, before the stash could be retrieved major building work was undertaken by the owners and all was lost!
As for The Lamplight Club, The Berts played there for the sheer love of shaking our money makers. We switched names to The Charlie Parkas there so as not to confuse people that it was a ‘proper’ Albertos’ gig. Our residency shifted to Band On The Wall and we reverted to the full moniker as we were road testing being funny at the time.
Everything changes, everything passes, it was a gas, a delight, a sweet groove to be around then as it is indeed, a sweet groove to be around now.
Thanks for the memories – I’ve spread the word about your blog via my Facebook page …
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Great to hear from you, Chris. Our paths must indeed have crossed. I was a Zelig type merging quietly into the background. I got a bit of a shock when I saw the words “a fickle, prancing little elf”. I thought you meant me but when I read again, I realised you were personifying memory.
Good to hear that Mike Don is still around. I used to enjoy friendly chats with him at Grass Roots.
The beautiful girls at 355 were distant with you as well? I thought it was just me.
I’m still in touch with Annie O’Malley. She and Tom McMaster came to stay with us in County Cork. Tom and I almost met up in Sri Lanka but there was a communication breakdown.
At 355, I lived in a garret right up at the top. It was rather like that pre-Raphaelite picture, The Death of Chatterton. One of the other residents at the time was a longhaired meditator called Alex. I recall him calmly brushing his teeth after stepping over my girl friend who had collapsed unconscious on the bathroom floor. He was too young to be THE Magic Alex of Apple fame.
I have fond memories of Band on the Wall. I once had a drink with Jack Bruce there. I have managed (just) to keep my own liver.
Amazing story about meeting your wife thirty years later! I remember Martin Hannett well.
Good to meet up like this. I will follow your FB doings.
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Amazing article, a trip down memory lane, having been a student in Manchester in the late 60s . I worked In many of the clubs around the city and returned last weekend for the first time in years….met Dougie James ……thanks again for letting me relive the experience.
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Thanks Chrissie. I was also a student in Manchester from 1966 to 1969. I lived there until 1983, when I moved to London. Haven’t been back since 2006.
Excellent article. Interesting anecdote about meeting Jack Bruce. I once survived a night of drinking with Mike O’Leary!
Thanks Geoff. I hear that Mike O’Leary can’t take it like he used to. Now that he is old he has to take it slow and steady – every day.
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Great reading these memories! I only met Roger a few times, later in his life, when he made some efforts to promote a band I payed bass in – the awkwardly titled ‘Champion Franny Eubanks and the Roach Twins’ Blues Band’. He had seen us at the Band on the Wall, where we often played the Saturday nights, around ’92 to ’95. I remember doing a couple of gigs in Whaley Bridge, presumably because he lived there, and there was talk of him arranging a recording deal, but the band imploded when Franny, the singer, then a top ten middleweight boxer, punched the lights out of one of the Roach twins on stage at the B.O.W. He seemed like a big gruff, but friendly, bear. His knowledge of music was more expansive than that of anybody I’ve ever met before or since.
Thanks for reading and commenting John. I have been reading through the article again and may relaunch it in a slimmer form.