Manchester Wheelers

 

A Book by Dave  

  
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The insider story of the Manchester Soul Mods, their music, and their drugs and their clubs: The Twisted Wheel. A tale about a Soul music deejay that lost his girl and almost lost his mind. The story of the Manchester Wheelers is not about a bicycling club, its all about American Soul music in a Northern English town in the sixties; a gritty Northern Quadrophenia that charts the Genesis of what has now become the phenomenon of ‘Northern Soul’.

And it all began in MANCHESTER.

Reviews:

"Many thanks for the book; it was in the post waiting for me when I got home last night.
I decided to read a couple of chapters before going to sleep but ended up reading it all !  (did speed read  last few chapters).
Some of it made me laugh and some made me cry."
                                              Anon.
 

"Its amazing the memories chapter one awakens. The Cona, Sergeant Plummer's purple hearts drug squad, "blocked" the ever-changing vents and top jacket button...and the ability to swallow a dozen blueys in one gulp.
Cheers!
Enjoying the book...........  a flash back on every page".
                                              Harry from Sale
 

"I am too young to have visited Manchester and its All Night R&B and Soul sessions in the 1960’s.However, Dave, in the novel The Manchester Wheelers made me feel like I was actually there in 1964 at the Brazennose Street Twisted Wheel with its special atmosphere as in Dave’s own words “the sound of a wailing harmonica in that dark cellar had a magical effect on me”
The book is described as a novel, with all circumstances, people and events being entirely fictionalised. However, The Manchester Wheelers written in the first person, has the feel of an autobiography.
The author writes with an intimate knowledge of the subject, the places, the times and last but not least, the music, which only someone who has been deeply immersed in Mod culture and with a passion for the music bordering on the obsessive would know. The following passage from the book sums up the prevailing attitude of the Manchester ”In Crowd“..
”No-one claimed to be a Mod if they really were one-it would have been unacceptable. You had no need to claim what was self -evident to the ones that could determine such status”
The book begins in October 1967 with the narrator, Dave, a Manchester Soul Mod at the “new” Twisted Wheel on Whitworth Street. Junior Walker is on live and Dave has the lot. A gorgeous girlfriend, a fantastic record collection and he is a member of the elite Wheel crowd. Girlfriend trouble and non stop drug abuse along with changes in the Scene that he holds so dear cause Dave to examine his own life and the direction it is taking.
The results of this inward examination and the problems that caused it will be strikingly familiar to many who have followed a similar Soul path and in reading the story of Dave and The Manchester Wheelers they will find many parallels with their own Soul experience.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and read all 300 pages in two days. I am fascinated by the period, its styles, attitudes and music. The Manchester Wheelers transported me to Sixties Manchester which I now feel I understand a lot better.
File The Manchester Wheelers on your bookcase next to CENtral 1179 The Story of Manchesters Twisted Wheel Club by Keith Rylatt and Phil Scott and Brummels Last Riff by Alan Fletcher"
                                              Mark “Oggie” Orridge
                                              Originally from Soul-Source.co.uk
 

"Enjoyed every line of it, brought back so many memories of how Manchester was back then, not just the wheel.Things like the whit walks and proddy dogs,and especially fancying Julie Driscoll. I was still buying anything on vinyl 20 years later, even if she was just a backing singer!
I have recommended it to a few mates already, as the best book I have ever read on the genre.
Thanks for the ray of sunlight you cast on those years!"
                                              Dave
  

"A great book written on two levels;
As a biography this book tells you all you want to know about how mods thought and postured, both within their group and to the outside world. Dave’s reminiscences are perfect with the exception of Chapter 12 – Night train , when he goes off on his own Quadrophenic trip and is in danger of losing the reader, but this is recovered with some great memories of life as an apprentice engineering mod in the ‘60s.
As a reference book there’s a great depth of history of the Manchester scene from the clubs, the music, the lifestyle and the people. Anyone who can recall Red Hoffman and The Measles has an encyclopaedic memory and proves he was there !
Get it – Read it – Relive it."
                                              Mel
 


"The Manchester Wheelers a book about the Twisted Wheel in the 1960s
Manchester is famous for its music scene and night clubs, the most famous of which was the Hacienda. But what was it like in the 60s and 70s, when people danced to American soul music and the city's most famous - or infamous - club was the Twisted Wheel? The Manchester Wheelers tells the grim and gritty story of the young people who went to the 'Wheel'.
The Manchester Wheelers tells the story of the crazy characters, the rival gangs, the shady geezers and the groovy girls and who were part of the soul mod scene in Manchester. It's presented in the form of a novel but is based on real events. Names of characters have been changed.
Beware, some of the content is adult in nature and there is a lot of bad language as well as detailed descriptions of drug use. But that's how it was. Nothing is left out, so prepare to be shocked.
The Twisted Wheel opened in the 1960s in a basement in Brazennose Street, close to Albert Square. Later it moved to Whitworth Street next to the Old Fire Station and Piccadilly railway station. The Twisted Wheel continues today as a regular club night.
What was it that motivated the soul mods of Manchester? Youthful energy of course, powered by drugs, but most of all it was the music, and that music was Black American soul music.
For some reason the raw sound of often obscure US artists found an enthusiastic following in England, especially northern England. This rougher, harder edged style of sixties soul became known as Northern Soul.
For me soul was the signature music of Manchester in the late 60s and 70s. A number of famous soul singers played in Manchester, including Junior Walker, whose concert is described in the book.
I would love to have gone to the Twisted Wheel club in the 1960s but I was too young. At least through The Manchester Wheelers I can experience it in my imagination, and recreate an impression of life in a Manchester very different to the one that emerged in subsequent decades.
The Manchester Wheelers, A northern quadrophenia, is described on the cover as 'A Book by Dave' and is available from this site".
                                              Written by Aidan O'Rourke
                                              Taken from www.aidan.co.uk

 

 

A review by Iain McCartney
published in 'United We Stand'

Please click on image to the left to read the review!


 

BOOK OUTLINE

Outside London Mods flourished in many towns and cities in the UK. Most if not all were followers of the London trends and therefore always behind the curve of styles and events. The single location that did become a trendsetting place was Manchester and the location in the city that was the fulcrum of the Mods was the Twisted Wheel. At the first ‘Wheel’ club in Brazennose Street (not far from the Town Hall) the Manchester Mod scene was going full tilt in 1964 and at other clubs too: Oasis, Jungfrau, Manchester Cavern and others. In 1965 and 66 when the Mod scene was practically over in London, the scene in Manchester continued alongside a strong soul music adoration. This was mainly due to the Wheel D.J. Roger Eagle’s playlist; he was not a Mod role model but did have a knack in unearthing, importing and knowing what excited his soul appreciative audience. The Mods in the city faded out at other clubs but gathered and coalesced into ‘Soul Mods’ at the Wheel. Smart appearance was the order of the day – err the All-nighter. And they were on parade every Saturday night. Even in 1965 a trickle of Soul Mods from around the nation were travelling on Saturdays to the club, by 1966 it was a torrent. The Wheel was the Mecca for this burgeoning religion of Soul and local Soul Mods in the city attended ‘services’ four or five times a week at the club. The only other sanctified location for Manchester Soul Mods was another club: the Blue Note it was near to the second location of the Wheel, which had moved to Whitworth Street in September of 1966. And at the Blue Note the new D.J was the Wheel’s own legendary Roger Eagle. More importantly his record collection had moved with him.

The All-nighters at the Wheel in the nineteen sixties are famous for the amazing Stateside acts that appeared there live. However of at least equal importance were the vinyl records on the twin Garrard decks played by the subsequent D.J’s behind a wall of bicycle wheels.

Amphetamines powered the all night dancing, but unlike the myths surrounding all night dancing at the Wheel it was in fact very much subdued; most often just shuffling about on the same spot due to the crush of packed in All-nighter goers. It was later (years later) at Wigan Casino that ‘Northern Soulers’ had space to develop energetic dancing to our records and annoyingly claiming many of them as their own discoveries.

Drugs; large doses of amphetamines were taken by most of the Soul Mods for the All-nighters and then some more, at daily and evening sessions at other Manchester clubs on the Sunday after. It all had to end. The club itself was targeted as the epicentre of drug abuse and was closed down in 1971. A few years before that the originating Soul Mod crowd had retired, no one could keep up such a regime for more than a few years without physical and mental aberrations. Regardless, a great time was had by most and the vast majority survived to have very fond memories of that frenetic period of the original Mod Soul scene that today is acknowledged as the genesis of ‘Northern Soul.’

It is against this backdrop that the novel: The Manchester Wheelers is set. It pulls no punches in its descriptions of amphetamine overload. It describes a D.J’s struggle to control the inner automatic pilot of his mind, whilst his world crumbles around him after his girlfriend leaves him and his Soul club goes Ska.
 

 

Where Northern Soul Began