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the official distractions website

Welcome to the official Distractions website. We will be aiming to record the history of one of the greatest, but least heralded, of all Manchester beat groups.

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Rafters, Ranch, the Hacienda

More on the Manchester scene of the late '70s, early '80s, as The Distractions emerged...

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Next to open was Rafters in the cellar of 65 Oxford Road.  Magazine made their debut here in October '77.  At an audition here in Spring '78, Joy Division failed to impress Stiff execs, but they did impress Factory boss Tony Wilson (who signed them) and club DJ Rob Gretton (who became their manager).  Mick Hucknall's Frantic Elevators made their debut at Rafters in June '78, supporting Sham 69.

In late '77, Morrissey (Smiths) and Billy Duffy (Cult) made their public debut as the Ritz in Whitworth Street, when they were both in The Nosebleeds.  The Smiths made their debut at the same venue in October '82 (supporting London poseurs Blue Rondo A La Turk).

A popular late Seventies watering hole was the Ranch, a gay bar often "littered with Bowie casualties" in Little Lever Street.  The Buzzcocks played an early gig there.

First local label of note was Rabid in '77 by flyposter king Tosh Ryan.  Operating from 20 Cotton Lane in Withington, it released early singles by Slaughter & The Dogs, The Nosebleeds, Jilted John and John Cooper Clarke.

Most stylish and successful local label was Factory, started by Tony Wilson in late '78, with premises at 86 Palatine Road.  Its roster was breathtaking - from the earliest days of A Certain Ratio, The Distractions and Joy Division to the latter days of New Order and The Happy Mondays.  Expansion saw them setting up the Dry Bar in Oldham Street and moving into new, expensively refurbished offices in Charles Street.  Sadly, an insoluble cash crisis developed in late '92 and the greatest provincial label in Britain went tits up.

New Order made their d├ębut as a trio at the Beach Club (a Wednesday night takeover at Oozit's Club in Shudehill) in July '80.

The Hacienda club (operated by Factory records and New Order and given the Factory catalogue number FAC 51) was a self-styled post-industrial fantasy venue, opening in May '82, at 11-13 Whitworth Street West.  The Stone Roses first played there in August '85.  The Happy Mondays came last in the Battle of the Bands contest in late '84.  For years it lost money - subsidised by Factory and New Order - but in the late Eighties, the Hacienda became the womb of acid house, the hub of rave culture, the hippest venue in Britain (Ecstasy had more influence that acid ever had).  Gangster infiltration and drug-war violence caused January to May '91 shit-down - but it reopened and thrived until January '97 closure.

Richard Boon's Buzzcocks management company New Hormones operated from 50 Newton Street.  The New Hormones record label roster included The Decorators, Ludus, The Diagram Brothers and the Tiller Boys.  The Buzzcocks recorded their Spiral Scratch EP at Indigo Studios in Gartside Street, with Martin Hannett producing, in December '76.

(c) Pete Frame's Rockin' Around Britain, Pete Frame (1999)


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