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Pick Of The Bunch
As the influential Haçienda DJ who first booked The Stone Roses, Mike Pickering knows the band like the back of his hand. He recalls the extraordinary highs of the Madchester phenomenon.
Craig Fitzpatrick, 06 Jul 2012
Typically Mancunian in his acerbic wit and no-nonsense outlook, Mike Pickering doesn’t give much truck to the myths of Madchester or, more particularly, The Stone Roses. Why should he? To him, the major players are just mates who happened to make great music.
Since the ‘80s, great music has been Mike’s business. A member of the Factory Records band Quango Quango who went on to find fame with M People, it was his role with Factory and presence behind the decks at infamous Haçienda club nights such as Nude that truly changed pop culture. He ushered in the first house records. He was there as the clothes got baggier and the pills came in. He signed The Happy Mondays. And he was the man who first brought The Stone Roses to that Mancunian musical Mecca.
“Yeah, I put them on,” he says matter-of-factly. “The Haçienda was one of their first gigs.”
Notoriously inconsistent live, how did the fresh-faced group fare that evening?
“Now you’re really putting me on the spot! All Manchester bands used to have a history of that. I remember New Order’s electronic equipment was so unreliable that you’d be going, ‘I wonder what tonight’s gig will be like?’. That inconsistency was the same with the Roses. As it happened, it was a really good gig that night.”
The Roses were still finding their feet and their flares.
“We used to rehearse in this old carpet warehouse in Chorlton and The Stone Roses were next door. They weren’t ‘baggy’ at that stage, they used to wear penny drop collars and were a bit psychedelic. Then they embraced Madchester.”
Many would have you believe that the band were early outsiders, at odds with the Factory lot until they exploded. Indeed “Mr. Haçienda” himself, the late Tony Wilson, admitted that he “seriously disliked” the band until they floored him with ‘Waterfall’. Pickering reckons it was much more inclusive than that.
“No, I didn’t get that,” he resumes. “I suppose they could be quite sulky though, couldn’t they? But they were big Haçienda regulars, especially Ian and Mani. We were all mates, everyone hung around together. Manchester got house music before everyone else so we were already in full force when ecstasy hit.”