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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, February 15, 2010

Stuff The Superstars

Stuff The Superstars at the Mayflower, 28th July 1979. (c) Joy Division Central.

The City Fun music collective that covered the Manchester music scene in their fanzine in the late '70s, early '80s held several fundraisers. Probably the highest profile event was Stuff The Superstars at the Mayflower Club in West Gorton, opposite the Belle Vue zoological gardens, fun park and speedway ground (where Kevin Cummins shot a brilliant portrait of The Distractions in August 1979 [1]). The venue had been built as the Corona Cinema in the 1920s before being converted into a dance hall in the '50s, like so many of the nation's picture houses were in the day. As the Southern Sporting Club it held gentile events, like cabaret and dancing, before becoming the Mayflower Club in the '70s. Then it started holding more less puritanical reggae and punk gigs, culminating in what was surely its most celebrated line-up (if not then, certainly now) at Stuff The Superstars at the Funhouse on 28th July 1979.
Corona Cinema, Gorton, Manchester, 1985. (c) Paul Keelagher/Aidan O'Rourke.

By 1979, and as with most Manc venues during this dingy period, as the Mayflower Club the once-grand Corona Cinema had deteriorated into a right shithole. Whilst the exterior was covered in weeds and the upper floor was condemned, the toilets were basic at best and there was only a temporary bar knocking out tins of ale and cider. The walk/run back into town down Hyde Road was even worse for some, with local Teddy Boys from the tough West Gorton and Ardwick estates always on the look out for punks to pick off.

Back to Stuff The Superstars, the then-Distractions manager, Martin X, an editor of City Fun, had drafted in his band to head up the day. That line-up in full, and in order of appearance (as confirmed by Dave Tickle at JD Central):

1. Elti Fits - Got themselves a Peel session later in '79, released as a mad little EP.

2. The Hamsters - From Denton just down the road from the gig, and marvellously are still going as Sick Nurse.

3. Armed Force - local band who released Popstar / Attack in '79. Lead singer was the ubiquitous 'Muppet' who was a regular at Manchester gigs and wore a jacket with Adam & The Ants scrawled on the back [2].

4. Foreign Press - Signed with EMI later in the '80s, but despite releasing some great singles on the way, such as Downpour (produced by Rob Gretton), Set Your Love In Motion and The Great Divide (Bernard Sumner-produced), never released an album. Note: Foreign Press weren't advertised but nonetheless played.

5. Frantic Elevators - Of course, Mick Hucknall's band before Simply Red; their best track being 1982's Holding Back The Years which didn't chart until Hucknall re-released it in 1985. One of their tracks at the time was the imaginatively titled Feel Like the Hunchback of Notre Dame [2].

6. Joy Division - No introduction needed (some of Kevin Cummin's most iconic photos of Ian Curtis dancing were taken at the Mayflower Club).

7. Ludus - Founded by Arthur Kadmon, who later replaced Steve Perrin in The Distractions, and Linder Sterling, who is best known for the friendship she was later to have with a certain Steven Patrick Morrissey.

8. The Liggers - Gina Sobers is featured here in a Manchester Musician's Collective & The Liggers BBC feature.

9. The Fall - Again, no introduction need, except to note that ex-Ludus guitarist and ex-Distraction, Arthur Kadmon, went on to briefly play on The Fall's Room To Live album.

10. The Distractions - In essence the headliners, having just signed to Island, because...

...the night finished with, of course, Jon the Postman's Psychedelic Rock 'n' Roll Five Skinners. Jon the Postman was famed for finishing off gigs by the likes of the Buzzcocks, Joy Division, The Fall, by legging it on stage, grabbing the microphone and belting out classics such as Louie Louie, much to the crowd's pleasure. The stellar line up was completed with Gordon The Moron aka Jilted John compering.

Despite not appearing on the bill, the organisers themselves, City Fun, featured as the Glass Animals (featuring Andy Zero, Cath Carroll, Liz Naylor and, apparently, The Distractions' very own Pip Nicholls [3]). Their slot is unknown but it was reportedly high up the bill! [2].

Stuff The Superstars ticket stub. (c) Phil Worrall at Joy Division Central.

Sadly the Mayflower Club suffered a fire in 1984 and was never restored. Shown below after the fire, the stage was at the far end, the shocking toilets on the right.

Mayflower Club, Gorton, Manchester, 1984. (c) Manchester District Music Archive.

During a bit of research for this piece I've found several claims that at least some of the artists were recorded during Stuff The Superstars. Wonder where them tapes have got to...

1. Manchester: Looking for the Light through the Pouring Rain, Kevin Cummins (2009).

2. https://sites.google.com/site/reformationthewebzine/home/issue-007---autumn-2009/stuff-the-superstars

3. www.mdmarchive.co.uk/archive/showartefect.php?aid=2325&vid=244&fvid=11

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for all this stuff, you're really cracking it out. Good to see The Distractions getting some well-deserved attention. Would be good to know if there were any pre-LP demos kicking around, considering how poorly-received the production was on the final product.


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