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Added 13th February 2024 by The Editor, Alan Wise Project

Featured in the following Online Exhibitions:
Don't Mention The Hacienda - The Adventures Of Alan Wise

Artefact

Photograph
Alan Wise, Don Tonay
Bodega, Nile Club, Reno Club, Russell Club
1975

picture belongs to Donna Tonay

Possibly the most inaccurate thing about the film 24-Hour Party People was its portrayal of Don Tonay, landlord of The Russell Club.

Peter Kay played him as a comic northerner - basically Peter Kay in Phoenix Nights. The real thing was more dapper and more dangerous.

He was an Irishman who was born in 1925 and arrived in Manchester in wartime, aged 16, driving horses from Dublin. He ended up running illegal betting all over England and investing his earning in Moss Side.

This is him aged about 50, with his ex-wife, Rani, and a friend, Jimmy Gaynor. Don and Rani met when he was 35 and she was a 16-year-old trainee croupier. In 1965 they had a daughter, Donna. But in 1970 Don went to prison and when he came out Rani had a new partner.

Her mother became housekeeper to Don and foster mother to Donna while he built The Russell Club into a major venue for black music, starting in 1972. He had a Jamaican business partner and they also ran the Reno and the Nile.

He saw a new opportunity when Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus started their Factory nights at The Russell in 1978. And when Alan Wise and Nigel Bagley turned up to join them, he made Wise the club manager.

In 1980, he went to Barbados to run a casino to avoid another prosecution by the Inland Revenue. But he eventually came back and he and Alan Wise were collaborating on a new club, The Bodega, when Don died, aged 75, in the year 2000.

His daughter, Donna, was 13 when the punks arrived at the Russell and 16 and working behind the bar when they left.

She talks frankly about her beloved dad and his unlikely pal, Alan, in the film posted at
www.mdmarchive.co.uk/artefact/34773/A...
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