Man-chester Well-named

3DTwin intend to create a Manchester Music Hall Of Fame. The result will be an exhibition space filled with the likenesses of men.

3DTwin concede this:

“… Hall of Fame inductees will be nominated by the public – and yes, this may well mean an abundance of white men being inducted… we can only tell the story that history presents us with…”

Here is a list of possible female… ‘exhibits’?

Gracie Fields, born in Rochdale (1898-1979):

Patricia Kirkwood, born in Salford (1921-2007)

Lisa Stansfield, born in Rochdale (1966):

Heather Small – M People, born in London (1965):

Carmel McCourt – Carmel, born in Lincolnshire (1958):

Lynn Paul – The New Seekers, born in Manchester (1949):

Elkie Brooks – Vinegar Joe, born in Salford (1945):

Rowetta Idah – The Happy Mondays, born in Manchester (1966):

All these women are (were) fantastic singers, and are (were) very good-looking; their voices are musical instruments. They could have earned a living through music in any major city… Manchester wasn’t vital to their success.

This list reveals, unsurprisingly, that to be a female pop star in Manchester, it helps enormously to have exceptional musical talent and star quality.

But there is another way:

Brix Smith – The Fall (and Adult Net) born 1962, Los Angeles, U.S.A. :

Gillian Gilbert – New Order, The Other Two, born 1961, Manchester:

Katie White – The Ting Tings, born 1983, Wigan:

Brix took a short-cut into the Manchester music scene through marriage. Not the most ‘liberated’ route, but never-the-less remarkable for its single-minded sense-of-purpose. (I didn’t realise I cared about The Fall until I found myself outraged by her tactics.)

Brix proved in spectacular fashion that for women without fantastic singing voices, there is another way into the Manchester music scene: marry someone who’s already in it.

I really like Gillian Gilbert of New Order, but she unfortunately also fits into the bracket of being in the band because she was another band member’s girlfriend.

And Katie White of The Ting Tings was fortunate to have a father in the music business, who set her up in her first band while she was still at school – Beyonce style. She wasn’t successful until later, but she met her band partner, who was already a professional song-writer, through her father’s company.

So in the absence of a fantastic singing voice, Manchester women wishing to become pop stars will need to be going out with, married to, or descended from a man already involved in the Manchester music business.

It isn’t surprising that women with fantastic voices, and women with family links to the music business, have made it in music in Manchester. What is shocking is the absence of other women on the music scene in Manchester. Which just goes to show that Manchester isn’t musical fertile ground at all.

It’s like punk never happened for women in this city, isn’t it?

All these years, I’ve accepted the official line about how punk opened doors for ordinary people to ‘have a go’ at music, and I’ve only just noticed that this didn’t apply to Manchester women; the punk scene here was a boys-only club.

The more I think about this, the more horrified I become at the entrenched conservative attitudes which have existed in Manchester all these years.

Very weirdly, punk did nothing to shake it up… if anything, punk, as it unfolded in this city, helped to set the pattern in stone… no pun intended.

I keep reading books about blokes from Manchester with no clue about music or the music business, miraculously changing the course of music history; it’s becoming quite monotonous. Maybe one day soon I’ll read about a bunch of girls/women starting a band, from scratch, in Manchester, without knowing anything much about the music industry, and being successful. (I’m getting worrying flashbacks of The Spice Girls.)

It’s bound to happen eventually… I just hope I don’t automatically hate them. After all, I’m probably just as conservative as everybody else here.

← Previous post

Next post →


  1. Carol morley

    Hi, been thinking of some more Manchester connected names for your list…from back in the ’80’s or so…

    GONNIE- signed to factory in her band Quando Quango

    NICO lived in Manchester for 8 years in the 80’s… played a lot of gigs around town.

    STELLA GRUNDY in her band Interstella

    CATH CARROLL was signed to Factory (and used to be in a band with LIZ NAYLOR- Glass Animals)


    • Hi Carol – thanks – but would they qualify for a ‘Hall of Fame’? It depends on how you define fame I suppose.

Leave a Reply

Confirm that you are not a bot - select a man with raised hand: