THE TWISTED WHEEL
The place that originated Northern Soul!
The Twisted Wheel known affectionately as the ‘WHEEL’ goes down in history as the place that generated the genre known today as Northern Soul.
There were in fact two Twisted Wheel locations: The first Twisted Wheel was in the old premises of a late 50’s beatnik coffee house that had a large cellar beneath: it was called the Left Wing Club and it had lots of goatee bearded blokes in there with duffle coats and Jazz playing on a record player.
The location was on an alley corner in Brazennose Street off Manchester’s Albert Square, were the City’s Gothic Town Hall stands.
Two brothers Jack & Ivor Abadi took over the premises in late 1962 and opened up the underground cellar, they put in some cartwheels and bicycle wheels into the walls with back lights and with a mesh of bicycle wheels with cogs covering the DJ area. They put in two stages and opened it as a club for teenagers; mostly because they had no alcoholic drinks licence. It opened for business with a local group from Blackley called the Karl Denver Trio headlining on Saturday 27th of January 1963. A full listing of all the live performers at the Twisted Wheel can be found on the Manchester Soul Website.
Soon the ‘Wheel’ was attracting lots of teenagers and young adults and many were gravitating to the new youth movement in England – The MODS. The club soon became THE MOD club in the city and its clientele followed the unwritten rules of Mod culture with rapidly changing styles and ‘IN’ crowd signals only known to ‘members’ within this stylish sub-culture. The way you back-combed your hair, the way you buttoned your jacket, the shoes you wore, etc it was an endless stream of such things in late 63′ & 64′ Then it fizzled out in London: its birthplace (Scene Club Ham Yard), but in Manchester it evolved into SOUL MODS who kept the smart suited style and adopted Soul music and some other related musical influence, evolving from KING’s (King Mods) into SOUL MODS.
The ‘Wheel’ went through several distinct periods and styles, first pop, reflecting the U.K. pop music, the Beatles music was huge at the club in 63’. The local groups The Hollies, Herman’s Hermits, Wayne Fontana and others appeared as live acts. The music was British pop and often songs from the USA: early Soul, R&B and Blues. There was a Blues boom in England in 1964 and Alexis Korner became the Clubs resident band. Others appearing were the Spencer Davis Group, Zoot Money and Geogie Fame and the Blue Flames. The music played by the club DJ’s was Blues, Soul, R&B, Surf, Some Jazz (Jimmy Smith) and Blue Beat & SKA.
Roger Eagle the clubs music mentor, who arrived in late 63 was by 1964 was encouraging and booking Stateside Blues artists to appear live at the club. Sonny Boy Williamson appeared at Christmas (Boxing Day) in 1963. All the English groups including the Beatles and of course the Rolling Stones were doing versions of Stateside material, Georgie Fame had a complete repertoire of songs from Soul artists, Jamaican Ska, and Jazz.
The club had a totally unique an eclectic atmosphere.
It had clientele coming from all over Great Britain by 1967 at its second location, across town from the first one to a location near Piccadilly Station, on Whitworth Street. The Saturday All-nighters were what most wanted and Amphetamines fuelled these all night Soul rallies.
The legend goes on and on and expanding right up to today. Many believed it was the Wigan Casino that began it but this is wrong.
It began half a decade before the genre was christened NORTHERN SOUL in 1970 by Dave Godin of Blues & Soul Magazine.
It was ALL about MANCHESTER
And it was ALL about the MUSIC!
To know much more visit MANCHESTER SOUL