The music scene of North-West England from the late seventies through the nineties is the stuff of legend: written about, argued over, praised and disparaged – it still exerts a powerful influence on anyone who writes, thinks about or plays music. At the heart of it all was someone few outside the North-West have ever heard of – Steve Harrison. Steve started and built Omega Records, the record shops all the local bands shopped in, and went on to run the labels Dead Dead Good and Transworld, managing The Charlatans, Alfie, Peter Hook, Monaco and many others. He saw it all: the great clubs (the Wigan Casino, the Electric Circus, Eric’s, the Boardwalk, the Hacienda); the great bands (Joy Division, The Fall, The Chameleons, The Stone Roses, Oasis) and the great characters (Tony Wilson, Caroline Aherne, Craig Cash, Ian Brown, Noel Gallagher are/were his good mates; Ian Curtis was a neighbour of his family, Bernard Sumner, Morrissey, Tim Burgess, Johnny Marr were customers). It’s a book about the business of music (deals, t-shirt and ticket touts, bootleggers, payola, gangsters, fraud, the labels, touring, promoters) but also the joy and the madness of taking raw talent and creativity and turning them into something bought and loved by millions. It’s about the rewards and perils of fame.
But most of all it is a collection of great stories. Steve has seen it all and met everyone. Here are brand new, never-before-heard stories gathered from 40 years front line experience with walk-on appearances by the Rolling Stones, Madonna, U2, Robbie Williams, Liam Gallagher, Van Morrison, Mark E. Smith, Coldplay, Roger Daltrey, Joe Strummer, Paul Weller, Elliott Smith, Doves, Flaming Lips, Noddy Holder, the Manic Street Preachers, Ian McCulloch, Will Sargent, Julian Cope, Badlly Drawn Boy, Ice T, Stormzy, Ricky Hatton, Ally McCoist, Tom Hollander, Martin Freeman, Mark Gill, Richard Branson, Lucian Grainge, Peter Grant, Alan McGee, Coxsone Dodd, Martin Mills, Seymour Stein, Simon Moran, Mark Radcliffe, Mark Riley, John Peel, Casino DJ’s Brian Rae and Dave Evison and many, many more.
If you love music and the people who make it, you’ll love Here are the Young Men.
The book is written in collaboration with novelist and Times journalist Mark Hodkinson and will have a foreword by Peter Hook.
Meeting the Touts and Bootleggers…
This story begins and ends in a lesson in naivety, idealism, self-importance and a client-induced sense of warped objectivity.
A Lesson - don’t always deliver what is asked of you. Consider every decision objectively and as a manager… somebody has to be a responsible adult. I collected bootlegs, and I ended up working with a member of the band that I collected most of all: Joy Division. Therefore ‘do as I do and not as I say’ springs to mind.
The Charlatans started its first full-blown UK tour around the first single ‘Indian Rope’ and they ended up one night in Aldershot.
I never watched gigs from side stage, the norm for the entourage associated with so many bands. In my most bombastic period I would ban said entourage from viewing the band side stage. For so many people it was always about ‘them’ and not just the band, something I see even more of in the football industry. Football agents can be so self-centred, and seem to forget why they are they in the first place… some of them and have more personal photographs than the players.I tended to wander about the venue or sat on the mixing desk critically listening to the sound and moreover getting a true indication of what the paying punters were actually hearing.
At this gig in Aldershot I clocked a guy brazenly holding a Walkman type recorder above his head recording the show. I questioned him and he dismissed me out of hand which lead me to frog-marching him to the back of the hall removing said cassette from his recorder and giving him a stern ‘telling off’ in my inimitable way with my hand securely placed around his throat… you can thank Peter Grant of Led Zeppelin for that.
My next real encounter was post Manchester Ritz in 1990 where The Charlatans were being recorded by Granada Television. Unknown to me, an individual had smuggled in recording equipment including a video recorder on to the balcony. Within a week of the show, the guy was selling the entire gig on VHS format via the NME small ads. I spoke with the bands lawyer who organised a raid on the north-Manchester address which ended-up seizing a little enterprise in the guy’s loft which was a mini duplication plant. Whilst it was certainly nothing on a grand scale the point was that we wanted to control the access of our own material and the Ritz show was essentially to be the first live concert footage of the band. It is hard to relate this to modern day exposure which everything is immediately celebrated and shared on social media.
At the London ‘Town & Country’ things took a slightly more sinister turn. It was a gorgeous sunny day and the crowd had been swarming around the venue early doors. It was the band’s largest London show to date, and I took a walk around the front with our tour manager/tech/driver/photographer/all-round good guy Derek Phillip. To my astonishment I saw a significant number of touts trading tickets at hugely inflated prices. I listened and enquired and then I intervened becoming all heroic. I told the punter to forget buying the tickets as I would sort him out on the guest list; I went further and referred to the tout as ‘scum’ for doing this kind of thing. I took the guy’s name for the guest list and next thing Derek and I were surrounded by an angry mob of ticket touts baying for my blood. As they confronted us, Derek left me on my own without any notice to ‘get some help’!
I’ve just finished an interview about “Here Are The Young Men” with the online fanzine “Louder Than War”.
I have known the boss man John Robb for many years, and the interview was done with a really nice guy Matthew Mead.
I’m not sure when the article goes live but the website can be found here: www.louderthanwar.com
Hope you enjoy the article and maybe some other stuff on the…
People often ask what I’m up to nowadays... often assuming I’ve gone and retired... I wish
Well this past week has been incredibly busy with no less than seven of my sports clients called up for international duties.
Jack Butland appeared last night as Number One for England. Jake Dunwoody the Stoke City U23 Captain played in the victorious Northern Ireland U21 side in Spain... and Joe Adams…
These people are helping to fund HERE ARE THE YOUNG MEN: A Life in Music.