What exactly is meant by the phrase - northern soul music ?
Page 2 of 4
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My first visit to Twisted Wheel in Manchester was with a cockney guy called Les who I have not seen for the last 30 years or so. I had just purchased a car - Ford Anglia Estate to be precise with a full MOT for £25. So off we trekked to Whitworth Street, Piccadilly, Manchester - in search of cool.
Upon arrival we were greeted by a bouncer who said where are you from lads - Nottingham Les replied. Do you have any drugs on you - no we both replied - upon which he said good, because I'm going to search you and if I find any you will be going back to Nottingham in an ambulance. Things can only get better I thought and so they surely did as after the frisking we proceeded down the steps to the tune "Secret Agent" by The Olympics.
This is it - Nirvana - the hippest place on the planet. Not the class of The Orchid, but a vibe I had only experienced before at The Beachcomber Nottingham (which closed in 1968) and only a few times since despite travelling all over the world.
Bumped into my mates Matchy and Dave Bacon from Rotherham and I said to Dave whose that ? - pointing to a guy who made John Travolta look shy. He said that's Frank Booper from Widnes - he thinks he is a better dancer than Matchy.Just as I was thinking he must be crazy - he leapt off this wall in to a back drop and numerous spins. Wow - great - but not the greatest - Matchy is still the man.
Les Cockell introduced me to the crowd but mistakenly said The Blue Lagoon instead of The Blue Orchid - I forgave him.
Several girls were unusually dressed in a fashion that I had not witnessed before - they were wearing hot pants.This was the first time I had seen this new craze and I definitely wasn't complaining.
Jimmy Ruffin was performing live and one thing I will always remember is - bouncers throwing screaming hysterical girls off the stage as he sang "Farewell Is A Lonely Sound".
Before we knew it time flown by and it was time for the drive home. Unfortunately whilst driving back I must have dosed off and lost control of my Ford Anglia Estate and we hit one of the Peak Districts famous Derbyshire stone walls - backwards !!! resulting in all the back end being dinted in. Not to worry it was well worth it and thankfully I managed not to crash on other visits. However the very last all-nighter at the Wheel which I believe was Saturday 31st January 1971, regrettably I spent the night in a lads car with a conked out engine broken down on the side of the road in Nowheresville North Derbyshire. Five of us (and the sheep) freezing to death - two other boys and two girls, cant remember exactly who, but I think they were from Long Eaton (let me know if you were one of them).
That was it - in the space of a month my life had been ruined -
no Orchid and no Wheel = no more cool for the rest of eternity - its over.
continued ....... Story of Northern Soul Music part 3
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