When DJs had to talk between records

In the mid-1960s, Dave Lee Travis and Jimmy Savile presided over the dance-halls of Manchester. Herman's Hermits brought the city its first ever No 1, and the Hollies had nine hits in a row ...

Throughout the first half of the 1960s, most of Manchester's best beat- room DJs were playing an eclectic mix of tracks, reflecting the music of local bands, the domination of the Beatles (and then the Rolling Stones), the soul classics (like Otis Redding and Dionne Warwick), rougher and ever-present rhythm and blues, (from John Lee Hooker to the Pretty Things), and the beginnings of Motown.

A typical playlist from September 1965 could include tracks by the Small Faces ("Watcha Gonna Do About It"), Wilson Pickett ("In the Midnight Hour"), the Hollies ("Look Through Any Window"), Manfred Mann ("If You Gotta Go Go Now"), pop like Sandie Shaw ("Message Understood") and perhaps even something by the Beach Boys ("California Girls").

As a mark of the continued and now re-emerging interest in genuine rhythm and blues, at the end of September 1965, DJ Ric Vonn's of the week at the Manchester Cavern was Jimmy Smith's "The Organ Grinder's Swing".

The DJs in the early 1960s were using very primitive equipment; Dave Lee Travis at the Oasis was using a Dansette autochange. They talked between records, making a virtue out of a necessity since the technology to segue the records into one another hadn't yet been developed. Thus the patter and personalities of the DJs became important. Jimmy Savile's one-off Disc Club at the Higher Broughton Assembly Rooms promised "Top pops and fun games on the stage with Jimmy".

The excitement in the city at the time was boosted by the success of local bands in the national charts. "Look Through Any Window" was a ninth hit single by the Hollies in a row that included their No 1, "I'm Alive", of May 1965. Manchester's first No 1 was by Herman's Hermits, when they topped the Hit Parade in August 1964 with "I'm Into Something Good", in August 1964. The third of the big three in Manchester at the time, Freddie and the Dreamers, had had four releases in the top 10 by November 1964. Early that year, the Beatles went on tour in the United States, opening the way for other English bands in America. What up until then had been a one-way process - with English music fans looking to the US for constant inspiration - suddenly was reversed. Alan Lawson describes the turnaround as "astronomic".

Freddie and the Dreamers, Herman's Hermits, and Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders: all had huge hits in the US in the mid- 1960s, though only Herman's Hermits maintained anything more than temporary success there. The group's singer, Peter Noone, became a huge star in America, as did a second grinning Mancunian who went Stateside - Davy Jones of the Monkees, after appearances as Ena Sharples's nephew in ITV's Coronation Street.

In Manchester in the mid- 1960s, with clubs galore, venues aplenty, bands and DJs by the score, all the ingredients for a good night out were in place. It was not a narrow scene, easily pigeon-holed. For some young Mancs the excitement was to be found in the more specialist soul clubs which were spinning the purer import sounds rather than the city's pop sensations like Wayne Fontana and the Hollies.

For others, weekends were for spending at folk clubs or Chicago blues jams. Some musicians wanted to be the Beatles, some Bob Dylan.

C P Lee, musician and historian, invokes Billy Liar: "I think in the 1960s ... you wanted to get out and it was a fantasy world that you inhabited. Whether it was British modness or a pale imitation of Californian psychedelia, music was always an escape. Going to a club to see a group of Manchester musicians playing Chicago blues, for that 45 minutes or an hour, you could be part of another experience." DH

Arts and Entertainment
Kathy (Sally Lindsay) in Ordinary Lies
tvReview: The seemingly dull Kathy proves her life is anything but a snoozefest
Arts and Entertainment

Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boy

Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig in a scene from ‘Spectre’, released in the UK on 23 October

Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap

Arts and Entertainment

Poldark review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Katie Brayben is nominated for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Carole King in Beautiful

Arts and Entertainment
Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman
Top Gear presenter James May appears to be struggling with his new-found free time
Arts and Entertainment
Kendrick Lamar at the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles last summer
Arts and Entertainment
'Marley & Me' with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Hamm (right) and John Slattery in the final series of Mad Men
Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

    War with Isis

    Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
    Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

    A spring in your step?

    Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
    Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

    Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

    Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
    Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

    Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

    For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
    Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

    Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

    As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
    The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

    UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

    Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
    Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

    Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

    Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
    Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

    Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

    If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
    10 best compact cameras

    A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

    If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
    Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

    Paul Scholes column

    Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
    Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

    Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

    Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
    Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

    Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

    The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?