Famous Bands from Manchester England

Manchester has had a wealth of musical talent over the years and it is logical to start with a big name from the 1960s. The decade of peace and love produced an explosion of talent in the pop industry and Manchester produced bands that could stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the biggest names in the business.

Arguably the most famous of these was The Hollies. Formed in the early 60s and taking their name, as legend has it, from their admiration for Buddy Holly, the original lineup consisted of Allan Clarke, Graham Nash, Jeremy Levine, Eric Haydock and Don Rathbone. Their sound was easily distinguished by its vocal harmony which would become a great influence on many later bands.

The success they found in the UK eventually transferred to America around 1966. The band had twenty-two UK Top Forty single hits between 1964-1970., starting with a cover version of ‘Stay’ which reached number 8 and ending with ‘I Can’t Tell the Bottom from the Top’ in 1970. Their most famous hit is considered to be ‘He ain’t Heavy, he’s my Brother’ which was released in the UK in 1969.

The band hold the distinction of being amongst only a handful of bands who, despite line-up changes and fallow periods, have never officially split up and still continue to tour and record music to this day.

Moving forward into the 1970s and it is hard to pick out one band but 10cc were certainly one of the most famous Manchester bands, though actually formed in Stockport, a part of the Greater Manchester area. The band included Graham Gouldman, Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley and Lol Creme (who later formed Godley & Creme).

The origin of the band’s name was at first disputed, originally claimed by Jonathan King and attributed to a dream he had proclaiming 10cc as the world’s best band. In a 1988 interview, Lol confirmed that the name was chosen because “it represented a volume of semen that was more than the average amount ejaculated by men, thus emphasising their potency or prowess.”

‘Donna’ was the band’s first single release under the 10cc name and reached number 2 in the UK charts in 1972. Their biggest success was with the song ‘I’m Not in Love’ which became a massive hit on both sides of the Atlantic. It reached number one in the UK in 1975 and number 2 in America.

The band went into decline in the late 70’s, split and were finally reunited between 1992-95. Graham Gouldman has toured since 2004 with a band called 10cc although he is the only original member. Kevin Godley occasionally makes guest appearances with them.

Undoubtedly, the biggest 1980s band to come out of Manchester had to be The Smiths. An alternative rock band and one of the most influential, the band consisted of songwriting pairing Morrisey and Johnny Marr plus Andy Rourke on bass and Mike Joyce on drums. The group are credited with greatly assisting the return to popularity of guitar based music.

The lyrics which spoke of alienation hit at exactly the right time to propel the band into the spotlight amongst a youth bored with a stagnant music scene. Morrisey’s flamboyant style made him the ideal front-man and mouthpiece for a decade that had become boring and repetitive.

The band’s name was said to have been a reaction against the ‘pompous’ bands of the time such as Spandau Ballet and Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, Morrisey himself saying that is was “the most ordinary name” and that it was “time for ordinary people to show their faces”.

Their first big hit was ‘This Charming Man’. Although it got no higher than twenty-five on the singles charts the band had a growing following and their subsequent album release shot up to number two in the album charts.

Controversy followed the self-titled debut album with accusations of pedophilia thrown at the tracks ‘The Hand that Rocks the Cradle’ and ‘Reel Around the Fountain’. The grandfather of a Moors Murder victim required a meeting with Morrisey to convince him that the track ‘Suffer the Little Children’ was not a commercialization of those terrible events.

Three further albums followed, increasingly political in nature, the final album being, ‘Strangeways, here we come’ and reaching number two but the end was in sight. Then band split around 1986 and despite repeated rumours and attempts by television shows, Morrisey has always said that there will never be a reunion. To quote the man himself “…would “rather eat [his] own testicles than re-form The Smiths, and that’s saying something for a vegetarian.

Into the 1990’s and yet another raft of bands appears, perhaps the most famous of which being Oasis. Between the warring Gallagher brothers and the rivalry with the opposing band from the South, Blur, it was inevitable that this band would go through the roof in popularity terms, eventually becoming as famous for their dysfunctional dynamic as for their superb music.

Oasis members are Liam and Noel Gallagher, Gem Archer, Andy Bell and Chris Sharrock. The band has sold over 50 million records across the globe, achieved eight UK number one singles and collected more than 30 music industry awards since they were first formed in 1991.

Their first successful single was ‘Supersonic’ which reached number thirty-one in the charts and was closely followed by debut album ‘Definitely Maybe’ which reached number one in the album charts and was the fastest selling debut album at the time.

Over the next few years they were constantly in the press and rarely far from the public eye. The fights between Liam and Noel became legendary as did the media-fuelled rivalry with Blur. In 1995 the ‘Battle of the Britpop Bands’ was further fuelled when Oasis and Blur released their singles on the same day. Blur’s ‘Country House’ marginally outsold Oasis’ Roll with it’ in the final count but the publicity did no harm to either band.

The band continued to record, despite constant splits, feuds and the hedonistic behavior of both brothers but their popularity eventually waned to the point where they disappeared from the spotlight. The band managed a comeback in 2005 with their sixth studio album ‘Don’t Believe the Truth’ but they would never again reach the same popularity they had attained during the 90’s with songs such as ‘Wonderwall’ and ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’.

So to the present day. Manchester still continues to bring new bands and music to the world with popular and critically acclaimed artists like The Doves. From Ewan MacColl via Barclay James Harvest, The Beegees, New Order, The Charlatans, Inspiral Carpets to 24 Hour Party People and beyond, Manchester is a music city and has provided the world with some of the most influential bands ever known.