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Legend – Manchester’s Other Club

For my 100th blog post thought I’d flag up another personal anniversary this month.

Everyone has heard of The Haçienda, but not many people know about Legend, which could well be described as Manchester’s other club of the ’80s – I was fortunate enough to be associated with both.

No matter where I am in the world, people will ask me about The Haçienda – it’s a magical name for so many. They’ll say ‘wow! The Haçienda must have been really something’, and always seem surprised when I tell them that it wasn’t so great, for a variety of reasons, back in ’83 when I was there. The best Manchester club by a long shot at that point in time was Legend, and what a club!

It’s thirty years this month since I took over the Wednesday night there – this would prove to be the defining moment in my DJ career.

My debut night was August 12th 1981, and I’d play every Wednesday up until the end of 1983, when I retired as a DJ. This was with the exception of one night in May ’83 when I was in London for the Blues & Soul awards, where I was named North’s Top DJ, and, to complete a clean sweep, Wigan Pier & Legend, my weekly residencies, placed 1st and 2nd in the club category – I brought in a young DJ called Chad Jackson to cover for me that night. Chad would later go on to be crowned DMC World Mixing Champion in 1987, and score a big hit single with ‘Hear The Drummer Get Wicked’ in 1990.

There were only about 80 people there that first night, almost all of whom were black kids seriously into their music and dancing. The night, originally launched when the club opened almost a year earlier, had previously been successful with Nicky Flavell and then John Grant at the helm. John Grant was one of the big names on the Jazz-Funk scene up North back then, right up there with Colin Curtis and Mike Shaft, who hosted the Piccadilly Radio Soul Show, ‘TCOB’ (Taking Care Of Business). When John Grant defected to a joint Blues & Soul / Piccadilly Radio promotion called The Main Event, that was also held midweek in Manchester, at Placemate 7 (previously seminal Soul venue The Twisted Wheel), the bulk of the audience, which had averaged around the 300 mark, left with him. So, given the success of my Tuesday sessions at Wigan Pier (owned by the same company), I was given a crack at halting the slide before it was too late and all was lost – it was very much last chance saloon for the Wednesday at Legend.

During those first few weeks I would have played a selection of mainly US imports, with some choice UK Jazz-Funk releases thrown in for good measure – for the spotters out there, these would have included: Al Jarreau ‘Roof Garden’ / ‘Easy’ (US LP), Archie Bell ‘Any Time Is Right’ (US 12”), Bob James ‘Sign Of The Times’ (US LP), Central Line ‘Walking Into Sunshine’ (UK 12”), Denroy Morgan ‘I’ll Do Anything For You’ (US 12”), Donald Byrd ‘Love Has Come Around’ (US 12”), Inversions ‘Loco-Moto’ (UK 12”), Keith Diamond Band ‘The Dip’ (US 12”), Level 42 ‘Turn It On’ (UK 12”), Morrissey Mullen ‘Slipstream (UK LP), Rahmlee ‘Think’ (US LP), Richie Cole ‘New York Afternoon’ (US LP), Roy Ayers ‘Land Of Milk And Honey’ (US LP), Shock ‘Let’s Get Crackin’’ (US 12”), Unlimited Touch ‘Searching To Find The One’ (US 12” remix), Vaughan Mason ‘Rockin’ Big Guitar’ (US 12”), War ‘Cinco De Mayo’ (US LP) and Wish ‘Nice And Soft’ (US 12”).

As the above list illustrates, a wide selection of black music was played on the Jazz-Funk scene back then – Soul, Funk, Disco (or what would later be termed Boogie), Jazz-Funk and Jazz Fusion. It was basically the best of the various black music genres (with the exception of Reggae), covering a wide tempo spectrum. These specialist Jazz-Funk nights were as upfront as you could get; meaning that this was where you’d hear stuff that other DJs wouldn’t pick up on for weeks, sometimes months, often never – many of these tracks weren’t ever played outside of these nights (and the All-Dayers that were such an important element of the scene), some were never released in the UK. If you had serious aspirations of being a black music specialist in the North there was only one shop to buy your records from – the legendary Spin Inn on Cross Street in Manchester, who imported direct from the US.

Legend (or ‘Legends’ as the black crowd always called it) was a phenomenal club – there’s nothing comparable nowadays, they just don’t make them like that anymore. A quite spectacular environment with its space age metallic décor (15,000 steel cans were spot welded together at different levels to form its unique silver ceiling), especially when the laser was bouncing about off all the reflective surfaces. The sound system was the best I’d ever heard in a club anywhere at that time, the sub-bass (another unique feature back then) would practically punch you in the chest! The lighting was even more impressive than Wigan Pier, which was an achievement in itself. Legend’s own brochure boasted; “A circular dance area raised above the general floor level peppered with 2000 Tivoli lights forms the focal point of this new futuristic disco club, enhanced by the most up-to-date light show tailor-made to the overall design, it includes numerous par 36 lamps, scanner spots, jumbo and scatter strobes, mirror balls, half a mile of neon and a five colour computer controlled laser…The catalogue of lighting effects and laser technology with a full array of 12 channel American control boards gives the light jock plenty of scope to practice his art. The various effects include ‘tumbling’ neon rings on the shiny steel pillars which dominate the standing area, a pin spot light curtain, diversity arms spreading from the centre of the dance area ceiling and principally the 4 watt argon iron laser with an additional dye laser”. Talk about blinded with science!

Like the Pier, it was one of the precious few clubs in the UK to place the emphasis firmly on its sound and lighting, and as such the DJ and light jock were regarded as the companies most valued employees. This was at a time when most clubs’ idea of a lightshow was a few coloured bulbs hooked up to a single sound-to-light unit, so they flashed along in time with the beats. If you were lucky there’d maybe be a handful of pin-spots, some ropelights, a splash of neon, a solitary strobe or a UV strip. It was then an accepted part of the DJs job to also control the lighting, and the Pier was the first club I’d worked at which employed a separate light jock. Don’t even get me started on how poor the sound systems generally were back then.

It’s highly likely that Legend would have turned to Mike Shaft in an attempt to revitalize the Wednesday night, but he was also tied into The Main Event so that was a non-starter. Instead they asked me, and I knew I had my work cut out if this wasn’t to be a short lived experience. Although there were so few people in the club, I was instantly aware that those who had turned out were serious music heads. They weren’t really interested in the microphone patter, which was the DJ norm back then in the UK, it was all about the music, and with this in mind I made what would turn out to be a pivotal decision. I resolved to change my approach more towards mixing the records that I played, taking advantage of the fact that Legend had three Technics SL1200s (the first I’d ever seen in this country). This was a bold move, but one I felt would completely suit the type of audience I hoped to attract. A state-of-the-art venue like Legend demanded a radical new approach to musical presentation and, if we were to turn the tide, it was vital that we not only promoted the club as the superior venue that it undoubtedly was, but that I also set myself apart from all the other DJs on the Jazz-Funk scene. It was following this that I became known as ‘a mixing DJ’ – this was at a time when no other DJs on the scene in the North were placing the emphasis on mixing, and only Froggy, who’d invested in a pair of 1200s for his Roadshow, was doing so down South.

The first few months at Legend were mainly about damage limitation, and we managed to stabilize the numbers around the 100 mark. I worked alongside resident DJs Paul Rae and Ralph Randell during this period, taking the night over completely when they moved across to the Pier on a Wednesday to launch a new Alternative / Futurist night (their Thursday Futurist session at Legend was a major success, and a whole story within itself – many of the original Haçienda crowd would have regularly attended this night). With Paul and Ralph gone I now worked alongside Pier light controller, Paul Vallance, playing every week from 9pm – 2am, and loving every single minute of every week.

The night would eventually take off in a major way, and by May ’82 right up to the time I stopped at the end of ’83 it remained packed to its 500 capacity. There were queue’s right up Princess Street every week, with people travelling in from all over the North and Midlands, and even as far as London – if you didn’t get there early you might not get in at all.

My status as a DJ was elevated from up-and-coming to central, and my controversial championing of the evolving Electro-Funk movement would turn the black music scene on its head, helping create a crossroads from which the old (Soul, Funk, Jazz-Funk) would branch off into the new (Hip Hop, House, Techno). My mixes for Mike Shaft’s Piccadilly Radio show would spread my name, and the music I played, to a much wider audience – things quickly snowballed for me. It was undoubtedly a hybrid era, and Legend was its key venue – Gerald Simpson (aka A Guy Called Gerald) would state that having now played around the globe he’d not experienced a club to rival it, adding that “the atmosphere was something I’ve never ever seen repeated”.

The Haçienda, as we all know, would put Manchester on the map with a worldwide dance audience, but its success owes much to Legend, and other city centre venues associated with the black scene during the ’80s, including The Gallery, The Playpen and Berlin. Haçienda director and New Order bassist, Peter Hook, would say “Wednesday nights (at Legend) were presided over by DJ Greg Wilson, who later would also play a major part in shaping the Haçienda’s musical direction, educating audiences in a new streetwise sound”, whilst Mike Pickering, the club’s booker during the early ’80s, and later half of the Pickering & Park DJ partnership from the clubs golden era, remembered   “At the time Legend was the closest thing to New York”. It was Mike and New Order manager, Rob Gretton, who would approach me to DJ at The Haçienda’s first regular weekly specialist dance sessions, starting on Friday August 19th 1983, almost exactly two years since my Legend debut.

The tradition of black / dance music at Legend would continue throughout the ’80s, with DJs like Stu Allan, Colin Curtis, Mike Shaft and Chad Jackson having residencies at one point or another. The famous London Acid-House party Spectrum also held their Manchester events at Legend at the height of the Rave era, whilst the Happy Mondays recorded their videos to both ‘Wrote For Luck’ (1988) and ‘WFL’ (1989) in the club (and not The Haçienda, as many people assume).

‘Wrote For Luck’ & ‘WFL’:

The video for ‘Wrote For Luck’ had the theme of a children’s party, with a multi-racial audience, which seemed to sum up the cultural melting pot that had been stirring in the city for a number of years, whilst I’ll never forget the first time I saw the video to ‘WFL’ – this time the children had been replaced by a club full of what were now termed ‘ravers’. A brilliant visual representation of those early ‘E’ days, perfectly capturing the time and the vibe, this video obviously made a deep impression on me. Seeing the same dancefloor that had been packed with black kids on my nights earlier in the decade, now full of white kids, was hugely symbolic of the way youth culture in this country was changing.

Legend became 5th Avenue in the ’90s, and is still there on Princess Street, although the interior is very different these days:
//5thavenuemanchester.com/theclub/explore

Undoubtedly the greatest club I’ve ever worked in, Legend, as I’ve previously said, was the place where I experienced my ultimate DJ highs. It doesn’t get any better for someone like myself who started out with aspirations of being a black music specialist, and went on to live the dream.

For further info on Legend and the Electro-Funk era:
//www.electrofunkroots.co.uk

 

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27 Responses to Legend – Manchester’s Other Club

  1. Gerard C August 24, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    nice write up!!!!

  2. Jan August 24, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    Great piece Greg…so interesting as usual!

  3. Nicky Flavell August 24, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    Funny ? At the time it just seemed like just another club. Especially after moving from the Wigan Pier. That Wednesday night though, was firing right from the get go. I was sorry to give it all up, but for certain reasons I felt I needed to move on. Had you not documented those days in the North Greg not too many would know now what a seriously upfront scene was emerging back in those 80’s days.
    I have a box someplace with photo’s from Legend along with a few from the Pier ! I well remember the ceiling made from bean cans, Amazing ! and that system too ? Three decks and a joy stick to bounce the sound about.Truly a Dj’s paradise. I think more than anything though it was the crowd that made it such a memory for me.

    Yep,looking back (and there have been a lot of clubs since then) it’s got to be one of my five all time favourites in the world- fo’ sho’ !!!!

    Paul Valance ? Now there is a name I had forgotten. He was a card !

  4. David Dunne August 24, 2011 at 8:13 pm #

    I was at Uni when the Weds sessions started, but I used to hitch back over from Liverpool to get to them when I could in 82/83. I also went to as many of the “Futurist” nights, to the largely empty “Shoom” nights and even managed to be at the filing of the WFL video…The Hacienda gets much praise and love, but Legend was the first club in Manchester to hint at what was to come…amazing amazing place and people.

  5. Ralph Randell August 24, 2011 at 9:55 pm #

    Hey Greg …your article brought back great memories of a great club….Legend really kicked …and as you said.. a great sound system , an amazing lazer and so much neon lighting in the roof to play with
    if Legend had been in New York then surely it would have been up there with places like the Paradise Garage ….The Hacienda opened not long after but they couldnt even begin to deliver the energy and atmosphere that was happening at Legend and its interesting isnt it , how 100 people in a small dark sweaty club in London became a scene ..whereas several hundred to several thousand dancers in a club north of Watford was just another night or alldayer
    I always think of how the soundsweep could move the sound around the room…that was a special bit of kit that a guy called Tony (?) from Julianas developed I believe ,I wouldnt mind having one of those in my sound system today …I did try to track one down a couple of years ago to no avail….its mentioned in a Billboard article but apart from that I cant find any trace of it
    also great to see Nicky Flavells comments “hi Nicky” ….such a shame back in the day that Terry And Dave( owners) wouldnt just let the djs do their job which consequently ended up with Nicky leaving …he was banging out some great dance music and the kids loved it but I believe the owners thought they’d built the new “Millionaire Club” and where now the new “Stringfellows” on the block….consequently young black mancunians didnt fit into that vision , It was as if they didnt realise that the club they had built was for dancers and the Millionaires was for a completely different clientele altogether and it has to be said they just didnt have the style of Peter and his management team
    Having said that to be fair to them they did have 2 of the best dance clubs in the north Of England with Wigan Pier
    I stayed on for a year or so after Nickky left working with Paul Rae and as you know we created a really big alternative scene (“Dancematic”) alongside the regular nights but I decided it was time to move on in early 82 and followed the technology and went on to be a part of the Powerhouse team In Birmingham
    which is another story….so keep up the good work Greg …your reviews and write ups are always a good read …nice one …..cheers …speak soon R

  6. Urs August 25, 2011 at 1:29 am #

    Hi Greg
    There’s some information about your time at Legend in my article about the dancer Danny Henry, here, //www.mancky.co.uk/?p=3896, including a track list from City Life Issue 2.
    And yes, we did always call the club Legends back then, which is confusing as there is another club of that name in Manchester now. I tried to address this in Manchester Clubland circa 1984 at //www.mancky.co.uk/?p=3079.
    It is very annoying that The Hacienda dominates the histories so much – I quite agree with you. Unfortunately I have fallen into this trap myself because I went there alot in the mid-late 80s, so it’s something I can write about with confidence.
    I have to confess that in the early-mid 80s I thought Legend was a 70s relic – I had no notion that it was such a new club. The sound and lights were wasted on me because I associated the club’s appearance with a kind of ‘Top of the Pops’ cheesiness which I considered to be unstylish, whereas the Hacienda’s perverse minimilism, which mirrored the urban environment (concrete and street furniture) seemed more exciting and controversial – visually atleast.
    It’s hard to recall now, but ‘up-to-date’ glamour was very ‘out’ back then… the closest we got to endorsing ‘glamour’ was sticking black and white postcards of fifties film stars on our walls… and Sade,
    Thanks for a really interesting article,
    Urs

  7. Paul Rae August 25, 2011 at 9:34 pm #

    Alright then! All tha big boyz are playin out now! My days behind the decks started in 1971 as a relief DJ for Patrick Allen at the “Piccadilly Funk Club” in Preston. Spinnin 7″ James Brown tunes, but the greatest small nightclub I ever worked in (and believe me, I’ve work quite a few), was “Legend” in Manchester. Nothing came close for sound and light or atmosphere. Regardless of the night in question the club just rocked. From the serious serious jazz funk Wednesdays to the hardcore “Danceamatic” Thursdays, anything and everything that was cool on a dancefloor happened at “Legend”. The club had a membership and the members turned up on most nights Wednesday thru Saturday, it was packed ever night. This continued until the end of 1983, when Ralph, Greg & myself had all left the club for some reason or another. Mainly, due to “new music policies” from management. The club started to play more middle of the road music, chart and TOTP hits, consequently most of the members stopped going, and many, if not all moved on to the “Empty Waste of Space” some people called “The Hacienda”, which was a running joke in Manchester at the time, but that had now become the only “real dance music” club in Manchester. I stood on the sidelines at a smaller club (previously called Slack Alices & The Zoo) called The Playpen (yeah I know, name kinda sux right). From my new residency I saw “Legend” dying week by week (I knew the new DJ’s there) and “The Hacienda” rising up from the dead, I went a few times to Hacienda in this “transitional” period, so I witnessed the change. One great club died and another great club was born. I always wonder what would have happened if Ralph, Greg & I had stayed at “Legend” and the management had left us to our own devices…… I think we might have experienced something even bigger.

  8. kermit August 26, 2011 at 11:32 am #

    i wouldnt call legends a great club i would call it a cultural experience the impact it had on the music scene in manchester was massive i used to go every week back in the day and belive me ive never had a club compare to the vibe of that place. what i remember most is that it was about the tunes thats why we would buzz all wednesday during the day all afternoon and evening till the doors opened greg used to put out list of the tunes he was playing.(thats why i know what a lot of the tunes where )it was like a jedi accademy for tunes and we were ALL gregs padawans …….
    cheers for some great times greg

  9. connorthek August 27, 2011 at 12:54 am #

    Hi Greg

    looking at this post I think Urs makes a great point . Hindsight is a wonderful thing !!! I’m not from the north west and wouldn’t begin to pretend to know anything about Legend apart from what i’ve read from websites like yours but I can associate with Urs comments about perceived nightclub trashiness . I distinctly remember as a young fledgling clubber in the mid to late eighties in London , the urge to disassociate from the past . For example ,with hindsight the obvious links between Disco/boogie and house music are there to see but at the time it didn’t feel like that . Electro first and then House music felt fresh and new and totally unrelated to the past. When I look back on the amount of clubs that i went to at the time of 84-87 with a perceived perception of seventies dodgy light shows and flashing dance floors (Flicks in Dartford and Stage 3 in Kent among others). All because my mates (and secretly me !) still wanted a bit of Luther and Aleaxander O’neal , I have to laugh now at how ignorant I was. I was in shoreditch the other day in a pub/club with a light up dance floor that the acid house crowd would have run a mile from . Back then It was as naff as can be! That time was so back to basics for the new clubbers , a strobe and a smoke machine was what the punters wanted. I suppose what i’m trying to say is trends come and go but good music is good music and looking back on it now I would love to have a few nights out with all those flashing lights that at the time I disliked so much !

  10. greg wilson August 27, 2011 at 8:10 pm #

    Great to see some of those who were there sharing their memories, including the first 3 DJ’s to ever work there – respect to my Legend brethren.

    Hi Urs and connorthek – you’re correct about the perceived trashiness of glitzy clubs, but Legend was on a whole other level. They went pretty much as far as you could go with regards to sound and light. You couldn’t accuse it of being pretentious because its claims weren’t exaggerated – it was the real deal when it came to state-of-the-art technology. Maybe this is why we haven’t seen the likes of Legend since – because they took it as far as they could.

    It was the perfect environment for the Futurist night that Paul & Ralph did, for this was very much a futuristic setting. Clubs like Flicks and Stage 3 went down the path, but Legend went all the way. I’m pretty sure I remember Ralph or Paul telling me that it picked up an industry award as best small club in the world. I know that the people who ran Juliana’s, the company that installed the sound and lighting, would fly potential clients over from different parts of the world to show off their masterpiece. Juliana’s were an international company who did most of their installations outside of the UK, including discotheques in various Hilton Hotels around the globe. This was a serious organization – I wish I knew more about their history (Ralph & Paul may). I’ve often thought that they must have taken lots of photos in Legend, and filmed in there – but I’ve no idea how you’d go about locating this material.

    However, as perfect a playground it was for the Futurist / New Romantic audience, the fact that there was a night catering to the black crowd had real cultural significance. What must be remembered is back then the city centre clubs where black nights were held were ramshackle rundown venues that were struggling to find an audience of any kind. Legend broke the mould in this respect – I always remember the manager of a band we had there for a personal appearance being gobsmacked to find a club of this calibre welcoming a black audience. He told me that there was nothing remotely comparable in London. As such, this was a totally new environment for black people in this country, who had grown used to second class standards with regards to the clubs they could get into, just as they had in their general day to day lives, given the prejudice that was rife.

  11. Paul Rae August 28, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

    For more info on Julianas //www.julianas.com When they started girls names were all the vogue. So, Juliana’s was chosen. Another group that did discotheque installations at the time was Bacchus, I thought that Wigan Pier started as a Bacchus fitting, Julianas bought out Bacchus (I think). I was at the opening of the Julianas club in Bangkok in December 1979. John Marlow (Norwegian DJ) opened the club “Bubbles” in the Dusit Thani 5 star Hotel (Still there, the hotel anyway). The Juliana tech guys were amazed I knew so much about their equipment, hehehe. I just said all Pro-Dj’s knew how to work all quality gear! I know Ralph thought that someone from Juliana’s had made the SoundSweep, but I’m sure it was a company in Chicago. I know the Sub Bass speakers were 3 metres high and the sound travelled in a corkscrew up the tower and back down again to be “kicked” out at the bottom. You felt those suckas! Julianas did fly in potential customers from all over the World, especially on our “Danceamatic” Thursdays. People dressed differently, you know ladies in silk underwear, stockings etc, and sometimes the guys too! Half-naked wasn’t unusual. So, not only did guests see fantastic lighting and hear amazing sound, they saw a club packed to the rafters with all kinds of weird and wonderful people partying like there was no tomorrow.

  12. phil hongkins August 30, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    wow 30yrs !!! where has the time gone, well greg , i am in full agreement with u that legends was manchesters FIRST super little club. an it did set the scene for upfront music , mainly due to u n your cohorts and of course despite the interference of lennon and his partner dippy dave, i also wasnt to impressed with mel he was not a good choice for manager (given his dislike for people who where a little darker than him ) as i found out when terry sent me and our dave up to see why there where so many problems on the door, mel openly said to me ” i dont like these people” i looked at our dave he just laughed n shrugged his shoulders . the first night we both watched how disrespectful the doormen (if u could call them that ) were with the customers , as i recall the only man on the door who didnt look out of place was erm charlie redd he was white but he was well known in the moss n had plenty respect from the black youth , he also knew how to talk to people . two weeks later we went bak up to go on the doors on a more permanent basis , took a few weeks to sort things out ,but after that the door became a much easier place to be .. we had a few issues wi sum young rude boys but once they got “mannersed” the door began to run itself , i remember Mel used to lock himself in his office ha ha best place for him really didnt need him gettin in the way. most of the nights for me were spent on the door itself ,our dave used to go in about midnight and go on his patrols ( this was something terry insisted on and a practise he had us do in the pier,towards the end of 81 the queues were startin to get bigger earlier , the only issue then was how to stop the queue jumpin as we were on our way to being fuller earlier , but this was a manageable situation , i had formed a good working relationship with charlie so we had it boxed off . early doors i remember kermit n his crew was allways tryin it on ha ha , but legends was more than just a good night out for the music,the atmosphere , the venue, the lighting rig etc , more n more crews were “throwing down” n challenging each other to see who had the best moves !!!! this was a sight to see , kermit defo came into his own at this time , the morris bros etc who went on to become the BROKEN GLASS dance troupe … by the summer of 82 we were rockin all the staff were buzzin it was quite cool to be involved in manchesters premier night , other djs began to pop in for a looksey , we were defo on the map . i dont recall hearing anything about the hacienda till 83 n then it was stuff involving greg coz he was box office by then gud n proper . first time i went the hacienda i am sure mike pickering was the manager , i thought it was a bit of a shithole to be honest and very very grey, but i liked the projections n the sound was wicked . then came the gallery but that was a whole different story . sorry i cant add to much more about the actual legends nights inside but as i said i spent most of my time on the doors mekin sure yooz all had a gud night .

  13. Chris Hayes September 13, 2011 at 7:06 am #

    My top 3 memories of Weds nights at Legend:

    1. Weekend by Class Action absolutely mashing the dance floor, probably around 1am
    2. We are the Jonzun Crew – ditto above
    3. Greg bollocking me for playing Indeep at 9.45pm while he wrote the weekly newsletter munching on some free chips in the cafe.

    Happy Days indeed…

  14. greg wilson September 27, 2011 at 3:21 am #

    It’s like a staff reunion here 🙂

    Great to hear all these impressions.

  15. tony lionni January 26, 2012 at 10:41 pm #

    I experienced house music from its very first arrival in the UK Manchester. I remember how people didn’t know how to react or whether to accept house music as a real form of music and extension of soul music. I remember being at a famous Manchester night club called “Legends” during a soul all nighter and during the House half hour the Dj got on the Microphone and took the piss out of one of the first Acid teds we called them, Smiley T-shirt long hair, whistle etc and said Ha that guy thinks he´s fuckin Jesus….you had to be there to appreciate it.

  16. dave booth June 14, 2012 at 12:10 am #

    well all i can say is DJ Greg Wilson still remains top of the tree for me
    the first dj i ever saw using 3decks pre dating carl cox by at least 8years
    learnt so much from listening to Greg Wilson
    and can i also give a mention to Paul Rae and Ralph Randell who set up the thursdays
    which i was privileged to do at numerous times in my career

    and a special mention goes out to Phil Hongkins who had the foresight to give Terrys sister club in the city “the Playpen”infamous Tuesday night “the Psychedelic Jungle”enough time to grow
    a night thats still going to this very day and is Manchesters longest running club night

  17. H January 25, 2013 at 1:32 am #

    Legend was the best club I’ve ever been to. I can even remember the first time I went – 30 September 1981. It was a Wednesday, so Greg was the DJ. What a night! We started to go every Wednesday night after that, and stay till chucking out time even though most in my group had work the next day. Great read, thanks for the memories this has brought back. But I do feel old!

  18. Howard February 23, 2013 at 9:04 pm #

    Greg. I was researching a sharp boom box on google and stumbled across your blog, I have been a huge fan of Philly disco and jazz funk since 1979 and Legends was the first club that satisfied me and the boys needs.
    Memories of dancing all in a row and the girls dancing opposite came flooding back, my real first taste of Manchester at night. Living round the corner from Mike Shaft was cool as he used to play requests for my dance crew The Electro Warriors. (cringe)
    I always looked forward to the Sunday night tcob show and the Greg Wilson mixes which mr shaft used to play. Along with Shep Pettibone.
    After my taste of spinning the wheels and playing the best in jazz funk we frequented the Gallery which rocked on a Sunday night, again the boys loved the tunes, always looking out for that girl with a ponytail that would complete the Manchester top boy look !
    I never stopped loving Disco, Soul , Funk and Philly. and the fact that Djs like you gave us monster tunes Only reinforced that it still fills any floor.
    From Arthur Adams to Sharon Redd I can still see the lights at Legends flashing ,
    I moved to Ibiza and span the tunes in smaller clubs like The Star club and NightlIfe, however always chucking in a tune from the old days, watching people groove to the sounds of Harold Melvin and Shalamar always took me back.
    The Hacienda took things to another place as we know, however still making Manchester groove.
    The reason I write (and I never do this ) is to say thanks.
    Thanks for playing some of the soundtracks to my life and being part of a culture of real music
    And not this crap we have to listen to every time there’s an advert.
    Viva Legends and long live the 80s

  19. Alan Gibson April 20, 2013 at 12:03 am #

    Great to read all this stuff – I was in Faces, Birmingham 1980-1982 (New Year’s Eve – when I quit England and was on the road with Bacchus on January 13th 1983!)… before that I’d got 1200-1500 Mods out on a Monday night to the Top Rank :0) But that’s another story (one that includes the fact that the DJ was not actually old enough to be IN the club, legally, when he first started!!)… anyway, I digress…

    I intended to just make a comment about Bachhus, Juliana’s (but the passion is flowing and the memories are making me smile even as I write this)… they were two separate entities in the 70s and into the mid-80s… Juliana’s was (it seemed to me as a Bachus boy) more “highbrow”, lo-tech (a very broad generalisation for now) while Bacchus was high-tech installations and exciting all-round DJs being the / a centre of attention.

    Many of the “Juliana’s clubs” mentioned these days seem to have been mistakenly re-labeled. For example Bubbles in the Dusit Thani in Bangkok was Bacchus…. (I remember arriving in Bangkok in 1983 to work at Diana’s, Oriental Hotel, taking over from John Marlow, who was 34 – or claimed to be – and thinking “move over Grandad”… yet here I am, into my 36th year as a DJ (now in Kobe, Japan) and not looking to slow down ….

    In a nutshell, in the late 80s Juliana’s bought Bacchus out/merged the companies but it was (in general) the Bacchus staff – from DJs and engineers, to office, sales, etc.) that took over running the merged company… the likes of myself (DJ training manager/”Contract Executive”, Paul Cohen (music man IN the office in Singapore), Roger Hague (sales), or Mike and Ardan (engineers) were all Bacchus people… while even today the likes of Richard Sealey and Simon Brown are still running a Juliana’s office in London – both ex-Bacchus DJs…

    It’s not the subject of this blog” so I’ll cut myself off there, but wherever you happened to be in the late 70s and early 80s, I was proud and honoured to have been able to play some music for you 🙂 And if you’re ever in Kobe, get in touch . . . still “at it”!

  20. Ian Atkinson January 15, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

    Ian Atkinson

    Hi there, my kids now go to 5th Ave and they were amazed when I told them that their owd dad used to go to the very same venue over 30 (ahem) years ago! Fab nights, best sound system and lighting in Manchester by far………..I remember being blown away by Harry Thumman “Underwater” bouncing around the place (how did they get the sound to revolve around the dance floor???), Was awesome. Ahhhhh happy carefree days!!!!!

  21. Jane Edwards February 8, 2014 at 9:47 pm #

    I managed 5th Avenue in the early 90`s used to love all the stories of legends and still have the book the above pictures come from the new lay out of 5th is my design wish I d never shown Nigel my boss those designs now as 5th back then had original legends lay out only darker with no lazer but was still had to have a light tech dance floor was amazing even when nobody was in the club. Since managing 5th I became a big fan of greg Wilson and always wished I d been old enough to remember those early days

  22. Ben March 20, 2015 at 7:33 pm #

    I started work at Legend in early 1989 as a glass collector. Very naive eighteen year old who had only been in a club about three times in my life at that point.
    I think the manager then was called Dean.
    At that time, Thursday night was “alternative” night, Friday was full of office workers and cheesy chart music, and Saturday was Stu Allan. Every night I worked was a brilliant experience for me. I was still there when it became 5th Avenue and it became mainly an indie music “Madchester” club. After a while I ended up doing the lights alongside a DJ known as Oz? I’m going back more than twenty years now so my memory ain’t what it used to be! I had some of the best nights of my life working there. After a while it stopped being a job and became a social event that I got paid for. I’m sure I remember The Jungle Brothers playing there on a rainy midweek night while it was still Legend. Thanks for the write up – even though most of what you’re writing about was before I worked there, it’s brought back some great memories.

  23. Maz May 3, 2015 at 5:20 am #

    Wow this a blast from my past, I went nearly every week, the music jumping so was I…Maz

  24. Dean cooper September 2, 2015 at 3:32 pm #

    I was lucky enough to be a part of what was legends,
    I started working there in 84 assistant manager to Paul valance, my first impression of the club was that it was well ahead of its time, the decor and lighting and sound system really were outstanding and as I was to find out the djs were of the same standard.
    I experienced some amazing nights at the club, like the night loose ends played on the Wednesday soul / funk and house night in 85.( what a night) The djs taking care of the Wednesday’s were Mike shaft, Colin Curtis and Hewan Clarke and after Colin Curtis….leaky fresh joined the show…..The Wednesday nights really did live up to the club’s name- as did all the nights
    The Wednesday nights definitely paved the way for the Saturday night for me….
    When Steve silk hurleys track jack your body smashed the charts that was start of things to come.

    In 88 along with the love for house music people started to see the potential in promoting nights with new promoters knocking on the door all the time! I’m glad to say I chose wisely at the time and made some massive nights and great memories with promoters like spectrum bringing djs like paul oakenfold Danny rampling and nick holloway!
    Tony Wilson approached me to film happy mondays wfl at the club….that was another massive boost for the club
    There was such a great buzz about the club!
    For djs it was the club to work at and for the clubbers it was the club to be at!

    The Saturday was another monster night with Stu allan packing the place out to capacity ” and some” every week! As soon as the night finished the crowd would say I can’t wait for next week!
    It was the Saturday night I gave Paul Fitzpatrck ( dj nipper ) a
    spot…..phenomenal!!
    the bedroom dj came big!
    He could mix!
    Once again great memories of a great club! There are probably so many people I have not mentioned…..Please share your memories if you had pleasure of going to legends.

  25. Dean cooper September 2, 2015 at 3:58 pm #

    Hi ben, yes I was the manager at that time you worked there…. from 85- 89 and the jungle brothers did play there one mid week night sometime in 89 I think.dean

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