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Added 7th March 2024 by The Editor, Alan Wise Project

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


Dougie James Soultrain, Joy Division, New Order, Slaughter and the Dogs, Tony Wilson, Bernard Sumner, Alan Wise, Don Tonay
Russell Club

Bernard Sumner, a lifelong friend and supporter of Alan Wise, at his home in Cheshire, autumn 2023 - from film shot by Rafe Conn.

He started by saying: "Everyone is aware of the usual suspects connected with Manchester and Factory ... but one of the most interesting to me was Alan Wise ... the most colourful Mancunian character out of all those people."

Bernard's autobiography, Chapter & Verse (2014), includes an interview with Alan - hat perched on his belly "like a beetle on a beach ball".

Alan said he got into music after being put off a job as a circus ringmaster because the elephant smelled awful.

He said: "I was a scholarly bloke who drifted into entirely the wrong occupation. I went to Oxford and Manchester, studying theology. I was planning to become a priest But I dropped out after being ditched by a girlfriend, a lovely German girl, a dentist from the university. We got engaged and her parents came over to meet me. Her father's advice was: Flee! He is a bohemian.

"Which I am, and I took it as a compliment. He thought it meant the lowest dog on earth. He took her back to Germany with him.

"While at Manchester University I went to a cafe run by a South American bloke and I'd seen people there slightly older than us called Music Force - Martin Hannett, Bruce Mitchell and later Tosh Ryan - who had a young girl working the phone I had a crush on. I used to go and see her and I thought: I can do this job.

"I had a van which I used to do deliveries with. For the sake of company I wandered down to Rafters, which was puttng on punk groups, and allowed you to be a little eccentric. The owner of the place, still my flatmate and friend, Douglas Thomas James, said 'That's a nice van' so he turned me into his roadie, though I was still a theology student at university. And we could get in the club for free and I met there all the people who are still my friends.

"This would be 76. I was 22, 23. I quickly fell in with a group called Slaughter & The Dogs and did their first tour, Slaughter Bites Back. Then I made friends with the Buzzcocks and then yourselves (Joy Division/New Order). Then I started putting on other groups we saw. I didn't take a wage for two years but we started getting to know the groups. Dougie was hopeless because he used to go down the casino and gamble away all the money.

"Tony Wilson started coming down. And we both started running nights for Don Tonay, who had the Russell Club in Hulme and the Mayflower at Belle Vue. He also had two shebeens, the Nile and the Reno, and a partner called Rudi, Jamaican guy. We were doing it at the university as well.

"Don got me to be licensee of The Russell because he needed a licensee. He told Tony -'He's a bloody idiot but I like him most so he's in charge'. And Tony and I started the Factory Club, Shop Floor Entertainments Ltd, trading as The Factory - predating Factory Records.

"To start with, we were very successful - got a lot of people through the door.

"It closed in the end because there was a lot of sound leaking through its roof and there were objections from people living nearby. It was also losing on the bar. A lot of the drinks were being stolen during the day and ferreted away to the shebeens."

Editor's note: Alan often said he had studied at Oxford. But James Young, who was living in Oxford when Alan turned up there, says he only got as far as being interviewed for a place at a local college, not the university.

If he was offered a place, he never took it up. At the time, he was suffering badly from agoraphobia. But back in Manchester, he did start a theology degree - and on the music scene he found a new life as an extrovert and party animal.

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