biography_square button_minus button_plus close_artbutton exhibitionarrow_left exhibitionarrow_right follow_button home_sq-artefacetsViewArtefacts home_sq-exhibitionViewExhibitions home_sq-sqaureSupportUs home_sq-uploadUploadArtefact artist dj keyword_3 industry keyword_member magglass newburger onthisday_button profileicon randomiser_button reload_button soundcloud twitter uploadbutton zoom_in
In the last 30 days the archive has grown by 45 new artefacts, 16 new members, 55 new people and places.


Created by mdma_volunteers


Suffragette City - women in Manchester music

This is an online exhibition celebrating women in Manchester music developed in tandem with our physical Suffragette City exhibition at The Refuge, February 23rd-March 10th 2018. It's been put together by MDMA volunteers, and we hope it will grow and grow over time. We've just made a start - we can't do this on our own! Obviously, there are many gaps, and we'd like you to help us fill them. If you'd like to contribute an artefact, just upload one to our main website, and we will do the rest. Alternatively, you can email us an
Gracie Fields
Photograph, 1973
Photo: Allan Warren.

Excerpt from Wikipedia:

Fields was born Grace Stansfield, over a fish and chip shop owned by her grandmother, Sarah Bamford, in Molesworth Street, Rochdale, Greater Manchester. She made her first stage appearance as a child in 1905, joining children's repertory theatre groups such as 'Haley's Garden of Girls' and the 'Nine Dainty Dots'.

Fields met the comedian and impresario Archie Pitt and they began working together. Pitt gave Fields champagne on her 18th birthday, and wrote in an autograph book to her that he would make her a star. Pitt began to manage her career and they began a relationship; they married in 1923 at Clapham Registry Office. Their first revue was called Yes I Think So in 1915 and the two continued to tour Britain together until 1924.

Fields came to major public notice in Mr Tower of London, which appeared in London's West End. Her career accelerated from this point with legitimate dramatic performances and the beginning of a recording career.

Fields' most famous song, which became her theme, "Sally", was worked into the title of her first film, Sally in Our Alley (1931), which was a major box office hit.

The final few lines of the song "Sally" were written by her husband's mistress, Annie Lipman, which Fields sang at every performance from 1931 onwards – claiming in later life that she wanted to "Drown blasted Sally with Walter with the aspidistra on top!", a reference to two other of her well-known songs, "Walter, Walter", and "It's the Biggest Aspidistra in the World".

In the 1930s her popularity peaked and she was given many honours: the Officer of the Venerable Order of St. John (for charity work), the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) (for services to entertainment) in 1938 and the Freedom of the Borough of Rochdale in 1937.

She donated her house, The Towers, 53 The Bishops Avenue, London, N2 0BJ (which she had not much cared for and which she had shared with her husband Archie Pitt and his mistress) to an orphanage after the marriage broke down. In 1939, she became seriously ill with cervical cancer. During World War II, she paid for all servicemen/women to travel free on public transport within the boundaries of Rochdale.

Fields also helped Rochdale F.C. in the 1930s when they were struggling to pay fees and buy sports equipment.

In 1933 she set up the Gracie Fields Children's Home and Orphanage at Peacehaven, Sussex for children of those in the theatre profession who could not look after their children. She kept this until 1967, when the home was no longer needed. This was near her own home in Peacehaven, and Fields often visited, with the children all calling her 'Aunty Grace'.

World War II

In 1939, Fields suffered a breakdown and went to Capri to recuperate. World War II was declared while she was recovering in Capri, and Fields – still very ill after her cancer surgery, threw herself into her work and signed up for the Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA) headed by her old film producer, Basil Dean. Fields travelled to France to entertain the troops in the midst of air-raids, performing on the backs of open lorries and in war-torn areas. She was the first artist to play behind enemy lines in Berlin.
Sheila Collier and Smokey City 7
Band On The Wall
Photograph, 1976
Sheila Collier onstage at Band on the Wall. The background is a mural that used to be at the back of the stage.

Photo possibly by Sefton Samuels.

Sheila Collier’s ‘Memories of The Band on the Wall’

When The Band on the Wall opened up its doors as a music venue in September 1975, Sheila Collier’s Smoky City Jazzband took up a weekly residency that lasted for six years. It was every Wednesday from 9pm to midnight. Prior to that we had a weekly club at The Midland Hotel [now The Metropolitan] in West Didsbury which became very popular, and where we had a wonderful array of guests, including The Alex Welsh Band, George Melly and Joe Harriott.

The Band on the Wall was very special for me. There was a real stage, good lighting and sound, a grand piano, and space to perform – a chance to dress up and ‘do my thing’. I would dream up fantastic ensembles to wear – and be teased by the band for my efforts! At that time I was a freelance fashion designer and worked on vintage garments with my friend Carl Twigg who had a boutique on King Street. I created some great outfits which I teamed with stretch black trousers and stiletto heels, over-the-knee, black leather boots! Years later I was having afternoon tea alone in Buxton when a lady approached me, she said she and her friends loved anticipating what I would be wearing on Wednesday nights.

Musically and artistically, it was a wonderful time for me. The Smoky City Jazzband was at its best. We had a great repertoire, and we were very creative in our choice of programme, varying it from week to week. We played New Orleans, Ellington, Gospel and Swing. We did not copy, but made our own arrangements.
Ludus, Linder Sterling
Russell Club
Flyer, 1979
Design: Linder

What a line-up! Thanks to Jon Savage for sending this in.

Taken from Wikipedia:

In 1978,Linder Sterling co-founded the post-punk group Ludus, and she remained its singer until the group split in 1983. She designed many of the band's covers and sleeves, or posed for artistic photographs taken by photographer Birrer and used for Ludus sleeves and the SheShe booklet that accompanied Ludus' 1981 cassette Pickpocket. Ludus produced material ranging from experimental avantgarde jazz to melodic pop and cocktail jazz, characterised by Linder's voice and unorthodox vocal techniques (which occasionally included screaming, crying, hysterical laughter and other unusual sounds), as well as her uncompromising lyrics, centred on themes of gender roles, love and sexuality, female desire, and cultural alienation. Although critically acclaimed, they never achieved any significant commercial success. Most of their material, originally released between 1980 and 1983 on the independent labels New Hormones, Sordide Sentimentale and Crepuscule, was reissued on CD in 2002 by LTM.

Ludus' concert in the Haçienda club in Manchester on 5 November 1982, filmed by Factory Ikon, showed Linder's confrontational tactics in expressing her sexual politics. Before the concert, Linder and her associates/managers, Cath Carroll and Liz Naylor, a.k.a. "The Crones", Manchester scenesters and creators of the City Life magazine, had decorated every table in the club with a paper plate with a red-stained tampon and a stubbed cigarette. Linder performed in a dress made of discarded chicken meat sewn into layers of black net, while the Crones handed out packages of leftover raw meat wrapped up in pornography. During "Too Hot to Handle", Linder whipped the dress aside to reveal a large black dildo. "Bucks Fizz had just won the Eurovision Song contest. At the end of their song the men pulled up girls' skirts, and that ticked off an outrage in me. Oh no, I thought, it's still going on. At the same time at the Haçienda they were showing lots of soft porn and they thought it was really cool. I took my revenge. I was a vegetarian, I got meat from the Chinese restaurant, all the discarded entrails. I went to a sex shop and bought a large dildo. I didn't tell anybody about it." Meat and tampons were supposed to represent "the reality of womanhood" and the dildo "Here's manhood, the invisible male of pornography. That it can be reduced to this, a thing that sticks out like a toy. I remember the audience going back about three foot. There was hardly any applause at the end. And that was a crowd who thought: nothing can shock us, we see porn all the time, we're cool. When that happened, when they stepped back, I thought, that's it. Where do you go from here?"

Linder and her former Ludus bandmate Ian Devine have re-established their collaboration in the 2000s. He contributed the soundtrack to the short film Light and Fuse, as well as the soundtrack (consisting of atmospheric, mostly electronic music) to her performance piece Requiem: Clint Eastwood, Clare Offreduccio and Me, which they released as Devine & Sterling as a limited edition CD in 2002. In June 2004, Linder and Devine reunited for two shows at the London Royal Festival Hall, as a part of Morrissey-curated Meltdown Festival, playing a set of rearranged Ludus songs, as well as other material.