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Twisted Wheel

The Twisted Wheel was a nightclub in Manchester, England, open from 1963 to 1971. It was one of the first clubs to play the music that became known as Northern Soul.

The nightclub was founded by brothers Jack, Phillip and Ivor Abadi as a blues and soul live music coffee bar/dance club. The original location of the club was on Brazennose Street, near Deansgate and Albert Square. This was the rhythm and blues mod venue, with Roger Eagle as DJ. The club's later location was on Whitworth Street. This venue was the mostly soul-oriented club with resident Saturday "All Niter" DJ Bob Dee compiling and supervising the playlist and utilising the newly developed slip-cueing technique to cue in vinyl records. The Whitworth Street venue was a converted warehouse, with a coffee snack bar on the ground floor and a series of rooms in the cellar. These lower rooms housed the stage, a caged disc jockey area, and the main dance room. Back-lit iron wheels decorated the simple painted brick walls. Ivor Abadi ran the club without an alcohol licence, serving only soft drinks and snacks. There was another Twisted Wheel in Blackpool under the same ownership

Prior to the opening of the Twisted Wheel, most UK nightclubs played modern popular music, Soul and R&B. The Twisted Wheel DJs and local entrepreneurs imported large quantities of records directly from the United States. Many of the records played at the Twisted Wheel were rare even in the United States; some may only have been released in one city or State. At the time, in addition to records released by larger record companies, there was a huge number of soul releases by a wide variety of artists on a multiplicity of obscure, independent labels.

All-night sessions were held each Saturday, from 11:00 pm through to Sunday 7:30 am. DJs played new records generally not played elsewhere. However, by 1969 more mainstream songs like Steam's "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" and Tony Joe White's "Polk Salad Annie" were added to the early session playlist. Allnight DJ, Brian "45" Philips introduced - Jerry Cook - "I Hurt on the Other Side"; Dobie Gray - "Out on the Floor"; The Artistics - "This Heart of Mine"; Leon Haywood - "Baby Reconsider", Earl Van Dyke - "6 by 6" and U.S releases on Ric-Tic, Brunswick, Okeh and other obscure labels

The Last Days Of The Twisted Wheel

Each week at 2:00 am Soul artists performed live at the club. Junior Walker, Edwin Starr, Oscar Toney Jr., Marv Johnson, Mary Wells, Ike and Tina Turner, Johnny Johnson and the Bandwagon, and Inez and Charlie Foxx were among the many musicians to squeeze onto the tiny stage. Soul fans travelled from all over the UK for the all-nighters; some by car, most by train, coach or bus. Singer Chris Rea on his album Deltics commemorates the club in the song "Twisted Wheel". Rea is said to have written this song because of his chagrin at being too young to go on the organised trips to the club's weekend all-nighters from his hometown of Middlesbrough in the mid-1960s

The club gained the reputation of playing rare and uptempo soul. Following a visit to the Twisted Wheel in 1970, music journalist Dave Godin noted that the music played at the club, and in northern England in general, was quite different from the music played in London. His description "Northern Soul" became the accepted term for this genre and subculture

The club shut down in early 1971 because of a bylaw which prevented premises from staying open more than two hours into the following day. Since 2002, nostalgia soul nights have been held in the original Whitworth Street location on the final Friday of every month. These nights feature the original DJ playlists, many original members attend including Brett Speddings, Alan Trotter and John Watson. Two "Goldmine" recordings,Twisted Wheel and Twisted Wheel Again, feature songs from the original DJ playlists. The closure of The Twisted Wheel gave the Golden Torch its opportunity to take the Northern Soul crown for the next few years until it too was shut down under local council opposition

The Twisted Wheel was reopened in the 1970s as a fully licensed and expanded venue, The Placemate. On the DJ roster was Gary Abadi a nephew to Ivor, who would become Gary Davies on BBC Radio 1.

The physical structure of the Club was finally removed from the Manchester landscape in 2013 when it was demolished to make way for a hotel. This despite attempts to impress on the Council the venue's cultural importance. In the few years before the demolition it was reopened as The Twisted Wheel by Pete Roberts, and enjoyed capacity attendance for its Sunday afternoon sessions, alongside of those sessions there were also all nighters and Friday evening sessions.

Twisted Wheel DJ fights to save 'iconic' Manchester club

A DJ is fighting to save the former home of an "iconic" Manchester club from being destroyed. The building which housed soul club The Twisted Wheel in the 1960s has been acquired by developers Olympian Homes. It is considering a number of options for the site, including the building of a 330-room hotel, which could mean losing the basement club.

Twisted Wheel DJ Pete Roberts said the loss would be akin to the demolition of the original Cavern club in Liverpool.

The Twisted Wheel was one of Manchester's most important clubs in the 1960s, hosting live shows by black American soul artists such as Ike and Tina Turner, Ben E King and Edwin Starr before it closed in 1971. After it was taken over and became Legends nightclub, Mr Roberts resurrected the soul night as a bi-monthly event at the venue.

'People crying'

He said he was unhappy the proposals included the possible destruction of the club. It'll mean a great deal to a lot of people who are still into soul music, because the Twisted Wheel is the most iconic soul club that there ever was Pete Roberts, DJ, The Twisted Wheel "If they knock it down, then we've lost it," he said. "Liverpool only has a Mickey Mouse Cavern now and the council probably regret ever dropping it.

"We've still got the Manchester Twisted Wheel - once it's gone, it's gone, and there'd be a lot of people crying, none more than me." An Olympian spokesman said the company was "currently considering the various options for the existing basement which houses Legends". "Among these are to retain it in its current use but with a different night club operator, an alternative music related venue, or a leisure facility associated with the new proposed hotel," he said. "This property is a key gateway site to the city and all the stakeholder groups will be properly consulted, and their views fully considered before any decisions are taken and any redevelopment can take place."

Mr Roberts said the club's importance could not be underestimated and its loss would be upsetting for fans. "It'll mean a great deal to a lot of people who are still into soul music, because the Twisted Wheel is the most iconic soul club that there ever was," he said.

"Coach trips came from the length and breadth of the country to the Wheel - we were importing black American artists when there was segregation in America and treated them like gods." He said the club was also important in the formation of the famous Northern Soul music scene, which was based around Wigan's Casino club. The Wigan Casino opened two years after the closure of the original Twisted Wheel.

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