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WIGAN CASINO SOUL CLUB. c/o Northern Noise.
"CHRIST RUSS, what the hell have you done? There's thousands outside and a lot of cops". Harry Green then quickly disappeared, shouting for more doormen to go to his aid at reception. I was sat nervously on stage - it was 1.25a.m. - we opened at 2a.m. in those days. Doubts raced through my head. We must be mad, I'm shattered as it is.
I switched on the equipment and cued up the country's rarest sound, 'Put your arms around me' by the Sherries. "Even if we don't get closed down, tonight is going to kill me", I thought.
1.29a.m. Manager Mike Walker shouted, "Ready Russ?" I grunted a hesitant affirmative and tried to quell the butterflies fighting their way to the back of my throat. Although I'd jocked at the Rugby Club for the past two years, this was my first spot at the Casino.
S.A.I. had built a special set of equipment for me, I had plenty of sounds, my mate Ian Fishwick was giving me a break at 3a.m. and 5a.m. so why worry? No I wasn't worried, I was scared stiff.
 
                
                    Richard, Kev & Russ.
The door at the opposite end of the hall opened and a trickle of soulies came through. Clad in tee-shirts, proclaiming their faith to The Wheel, The Torch, Mecca, Catacombs and Va Va's, they tested the vast gleaming floor and their shrieks of approval filled the empty hall.
"We've seen you at the Rugby Club on Fridays. We went to Newton British Legion the other Thursday - it was great".
"Just been to the Mecca," "Levine said, It'll never take off - he's coming down later".
'Is there any boy as sweet as you' flooded from the speakers and the night had begun. Wigan Casino Soul Club was launched.
To think that so many things have been written, radio and TV shows have been broadcast just about the Wigan phenomina, yet the best thing, is that as it is so much a part of people's lives it can't be over-commercialised. I believe that there'll always be a Northern scene because "thinking people" need an alternative to the music that they hear on radio or at most local discos. The Northern scene offers them that alternative.
Whether you've been to the Casino six times or six hundred times, I'd like to thank-you for making it what it is today. RUSS WINSTANLEY.
           A girl dancer in mid-flight.
It looks like the Casino is going to be a success . . . . Frank Elson.
   I knew I was going to have a good time at the opening night before I even got to Wigan. I walked into the Knutsford motorway service cafe and saw a large number of Torch badges (the best way of recognising Brothers and Sisters) and a few faces I knew. After a chat with three friends from Macclesfield, Andre Bartoh, Glyn Genders and Pete Smith. I eventually gave Ian Popple A Catacombs regular who had hitched as far as Knutsford, a lift up to the Casino.
  We arrived just after 2 am to find a huge crowd milling around outside. Plenty of police as well - fully expecting trouble and rather surprised when there wasn't any!
  The main stipulation made by the authorities when they allowed the club to hold all-nighters was that everyone must be a member and, obeying the letter of the law, their membership should stand for 48 hours before they could go in. Naturally with our postal system a lot of people found that they couldn't get in and others had problems getting their membership cards. Although tempers got a little frayed at times those people who stuck it out and eventually got in found that it was worth the wait.
  Later that night - or earlier in the morning I spoke to the manager, Mike Walker, who admitted that it had been the club's fault on the door - they just didn't realise the size of the problem - however things will ease up in the future. Mike was looking forward to the future.
  "The kids are great", he told me, "they don't seem to want any trouble and they've been very helpful, particularly on the door".
  He added that Police had told him that they were very happy with the way things had gone and the future seemed very bright.
  And what about the night itself. No-one had any complaints that I heard of. The dance floor is huge, there is plenty of seating around it and plenty of seats on a gallery running all around. There was no alcahol - only soft drinks but no-one seemed to mind that - the Wheel didn't need it either.
  Since the Torch closed I've met a lot of old friends at various clubs around the country but somehow it all seems better when they are all together in one place. The first figure I saw inside the Club was the unmistakable one of "Big" Willie from Wolverhampton. I'm sure that many people will agree with me that it wouldn't be an all-nighter without him!
  Melvin Harrowby from York, the guy who gave evidence at the Torch court case appeared - and he does alright dancing for an old feller!
  As usual my notes are in a bit of a mess 'cos I was so busy enjoying myself so I'm just going to let it come out as and when I can decipher my horrible writing.
  A well-known (if not well-loved) figure is Hector from Derby. He works for a certin firm whose name rhymes with his but I don't hold that against him. He told me of a couple of scenes that are doing well, The Brit, at Nottingham plays soul (and nothing but) on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and the Old English at Matlock, has a Friday night soul scene. Hector, who was with his lovely Sue Law, from Stockport, says that these scenes are well worth a visit.
  Here's a nice one. I've got a note scribbled down that says, "The best soul fans in the world come from St. Helens". Apparently Steve Ferris, "Jonno", John "Otis" Allinson, Linda Marren, Pat Killdea and Paul Rafferty, told me that. I wonder what part of the world they come from!
  I had a nice rap with a large band of Burscough Footie club people including most of the Soul spinners who inform me that they are now doing St. Anne's Social Centre, Prescott Road, on Sundays. They also mentioned that since my story about Burscough in "Check Out" they have had a great many new members. Thanks from me to everyone who has acted on what I have written. It's nice to know that people take a bit of notice.
  Gillian Derbyshire, of Southport was amongst the Burscough people and she was talking about the disco she and her brother are getting together. She is all set to become the first girl soul DJ. Anyone know of another?
  All too soon the All-nighter was over - doesn't time go quickly when you are in good company? And a group of us, Martyn Ellis and his young lady Lynn Mellor, a guy from Nantwich whose name I've forgotten, Russ Ashton and myself went over to Russ's place somewhere around Stockport to listen to a few records. Talk about gluttons for punishment! By the way Lynn is currently raving about Marv Johnson's "A Beautiful Place".
  Russ Winstanley, the "Everysound Disco" guy deserves a round of applause for not only playing the records but for being the one to get the all-nighters started. He has only one ambition left now and that's to host a Soul show on radio. Russ shared the playing with Ian Fishwick.
Mike Walker remembers..........
  I WELL remember the first time I set foot in Wigan. I'd been temporarily transferred there to help out with the advance bookings for the Beatles show at the town's ABC Cinema. I had been working a few miles down the road at their cinema in Leigh and, at sixteen, the prospect of being involved with a 'live' show, as opposed to films, was about the most exciting thing that had occured during my short working career.
I had only just moved to Lancashire the previous year, having lived in a number of towns, up and down the country, eventually completing my schooling in Carlisle - the town I was born in.
For as long as I can recall, my father has worked in theatres and cinemas, so it was no great surprise that I should follow in his footsteps at the outset of my professional life. I did, however, try my hand for a few months after leaving school, working in beat groups - but £8 a night between four, even in those far off days, wasn't much to live on!
My stint at Wigan's ABC venue lasted for some four years, where I rejoiced under the auspicious title of Assistant Manager, and for the initial eighteen months or so almost every fortnight, a 'live' package tour presented a One-nighter at our theatre. The Rolling Stones, Hollies, Tom Jones, Roy Orbison etc, packed the hall during that period, and I still vividly recall the night Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, the Supremes, Stevie Wonder and several; other Motown stars appeared together on the same bill - and played to a half empty house. Of course that was in 1964......
I made many friends in Wigan during that period, and was very sad when I was transferred to Manchester, albeit for only a relitively short spell. But during my stay, I became a member of the Twisted Wheel club. Their Saturday All-Nighters were something else! The atmosphere was dynamite, and some of the acts who worked there as virtual unknowns, are considered legends.
Can you imagine the night Otis Redding appeared ...enough said methinks! After six months I returned to work in Wigan - although by that time, things had changed somewhat. The live package shows were becoming less frequent and somehow the atmosphere wasn't quite the same. I concidered the prospect of becoming a cinema manager was not, perhaps, as exciting as I had originally imagined. Plus the fact that everybody else seemed to be having such a good time at night, whilst I was having to work. So, at tyhe tender age of 19, I decided to spread my wings and look around for another job.
A friend of mine was working for a local newspaper and, when a vacancy cropped up, he suggested that I apply. Fortunately, I got the job and remined there for several happy and informative years.
Gerry Marshall was, at that time, the manager of the Casino Club, and whilst attending a function one evening at the club, we started chatting - the result being an offer by Gerry, for me to work as a deejay in the Beachcomber - the Casino's under 18 room. I must confess that I was somewhat flattered by his offer, and felt the opportunity was not to be missed. Accordingly, and with many reservations concerning my own ability, I eventually decided to accept. Within six months I was working a regular five-night week, having progressed to the main hall within the Casino, and will readily admit that I was thoroughly enjoying my new career as Wigan's latest record spinner.
Gerry and I became very close friends, and when he advised that he was considering buying the business and wished for me to become the club's manager, I again felt flattered, and again accepted.
Russ Winstanley was also deejaying in Wigan at that time, and had secured a good reputation for himself via his soul nights at the Rugby Club and New Town British Legion venues. We did, in fact, get to know each other pretty well as a result of my soul import purchases from his record stall and, having become manager of the Casino, I approached Russ with regards to running a record stall within the club itself.
During those early days, our regulars were being "lost" to the Torch All-Nighters in Stoke and although we were playing the big sounds of the day, we failed to emulate the incredible atmosphere the Torch had managed to acquire with their All-nighter sessions.
Russ suggested that we try a one-off at the Casino at approximately the same time as the lease for the Torch was due for renual, and with Gerry's blessing, September 23rd 1973 ( a date forever imprinted on my memory ) the Wigan Casino All-Nighter was born.
The subsequent success story has been related many times and with many glorious years behind it, the place has become a legend in it's own time. Russ and I still talk about 1973 as if it were only yesterday; it is just amazing how time has passed.
Checkin' It Out . . . . . By Frank Elson. ( Aug. '74 )
   IT SEEMS like there's always something nasty about the Soul Scene to write about these days. I'm hoping that one day I'll have nothing but good things to write about.
The latest thing is really despicable. It seems that certain people, including very well known DJ's have found a way of making money that makes the regular pressers look very soft indeed. These people are obtaining records from lists on approval maybe as much as £40 worth, getting Emidiscs cut of them and then sending the Originals back saying they don't want them. Then, not only are they playing the emis but they also have a few extras cut and sell them for £5.
The crookedness here is twofold. Not only does the DJ get the latest sounds but he also makes a hell of a lot of money out of the ordinary Soul fan. The guy who sends out the list in most cases has to work very hard to find the good sounds and he's getting nothing for his trouble. The fan who buys the cutting is getting a bad deal because these things are cut, not pressed, from acetate and they rapidly wear out so you're not getting much for your £5.
The solution is simple, don't send any records on approval if you put a list out and for goodness sake don't anyone buy an emidisc.
THE WACKY 70's.  From an article in 'Soul Galore' magazine.
CHARADES - Dreaming up a world of fantasy.
SHIRLEY MATTHEWS - My sugar baby.
DEL SATINS - Baby you're the fire.
DENA BARNES - These heartaches.
  Oh, the seventies was such a wild and wacky decade for the Northern Soul scene. Forget the 60's. You had to be there to appreciate what was going on; and there was always something going on. Take these four records for instance; all played at the same time; all new vocals to popular instrumentals; all hammered to death by Russ Winstanley at Wigan Casino. Well glory be! Had some intrepid collector unearthed a batch of obscure soul records on a trip to the USA and brought them back here to share with his soul brothers and sisters? Sadly, no. The truth is somewhat murkier than the waters of the Irwell. Enter Mr Simon Soussan, sometime DJ and bootlegger who was one of the first ex-scene personnel to make it to the States. Old Simie wandered into a US recording studio accompanied by some anonymous girlies and copies of 'Afternoon of the rhino', 'My little girl', 'Double cooking' and 'Crying over you'. A good fifteen minutes later he had written some 'new' vocals to these tunes and the aforementioned ladies of the nighter had dubbed their dulcet tones over the popular stomping instrumentals. Before you could say 'Here's an exclusive, Russ' the acetates were revolving around the decks of Wigan Casino and filling the floor with gay abandon. Hey, that Russ Winstanley, he certainly knows how to find those rare dancers!  Surprisingly enough the bootlegs were in the shops within 3 months of their debut spin at the home of soul music. Doesn't it make you feel good to be a supporter of soul music? Can you imagine someone trying that one today? Er, yes I can actually!  DAVE McCADDEN.
Wigan badges.          
   THERE'S BEEN a hell of a lot of controversy over my piece a few issues ago about Chris Burton's Wigan badges and it looks as though there's been an almighty 47% up over them. Anyway to clear the situation up I spoke to both Chris Burton and Mike Walker and here's what they had to say.
Chris - "Although I did not have an order in writing I was informed by Alan Day that Mike Walker wished us to design and make a badge for Wigan Casino. The badge was designed and Alan took it to Mike who confirmed that he wished me to order two-thousand of them. When I was informed by the manufacturers that the badges would be ready soon I spoke to Mike who told me that he did not want them. We were able to cancel the order but were forced to take delivery of 396 badges. When Mike told me that he did not want even these I told him that I would have to sell them to get my money back."
Mike - "Our badge was designed by Brian Rigby in October or November of last year and the order placed with our own badge manufacturers. Alan Day did bring some designs to us after this time but I told him we already had them being made. I have never told anyone other than our own manufacturers and Brian to design, make or supply badges for the Casino either verbally or in writing."
I also spoke to Brian Rigby at Wigan who confirmed as far as he could what Mike said about the design and manufacture of the badges.
Odds and ends Lynne Halsall and Christine Till, the young ladies who run the snack bar part of the Beachcomber reckon that I've neglected them. Right there's your mention ladies and I'll have 800 rounds of toast and a coffee please !
It seems ther Wigan crowd went down South during the wrong week. Amidst loads of letters and people telling me how good the Coral is at Newquay the Wigan lot told me it was terrible.
All sorts of lovely things happening at the Casino for their Anniversary All-nighter and I understand that so many people want to go that it'll be rather a surprise if they don't have to close the doors.
            
 So this is where Frank Elson spent the 1st Wigan Anniversary night!
Frankie's the one one the left by the way. ( Photo supplied by Russ ).
Oh, what a night! APOLOGIES to the Dells. What can be said about that absolutely fantastic First Anniversary at Wigan Casino? It's just one of those nights that will go down in Northern Scene history. Just about everything nice that could happen did. And who took notes? Well I did take some but I can't find them for the moment. Now doesn't that make a pleasant change?
Hey now I was there wasn't I? I know what happened without any notes anyway. Lot's of "POP" music papers were represented and at the time of writing I've not seen any of the reports. Should be interesting to say the least.
First impression I have is of Andy Peebles making his first visit to the All-Nighters and just standing on the stage staring at the mass of bodies dancing away and muttering, "fantastic, terrific" and other epithets. ( Watch your language Elson ). In fact when Andy and Allan Dene decided that they had to leave their companion - that lovely Dianne from EMI - didn't want to leave!
Mr Peebles, Dave Mc.Aleer and myself were press ganged into judging the dancing competition and with a rather nice system of points we ended up with Steve Ceasar of Leeds wining; 2nd Kim Habbits ( not bad we hope ) of Wolverhampton; 3rd was Gethro
( that's how he said it was spelled ) also of Wolverhampton and 4th was Sharon Dyke of Gloucester. And if anybody thinks judging is easy how about only four points covering the top four. That is tight.
I've found me notes and the dancing comp is all that's on 'em! Except that Bob Mills' young lady Kath had a birthday which I forgot last year! ( Sorry about not drinking all my coffee the next morning Kath, my love. )
Mike Walker told me that only 1,500 tickets had been printed but there were easily 2,000 people in that place. When walking from the press room into Mr.M's ( a second smaller
disco ) my glasses just steamed up with heat!?
Oh yes and I don't think it was very nice of those peole who decided they would rather steal tickets than buy them. One guy I spoke to got a punch in the mouth and had his ticket and some money pinched. Now to some people that might be a little bit funny but make no mistake it is known as robbery with violence and carries a prison sentence. And prison is where animals who do things like that belong. Obviously such people are not Soul fans. If anyone can help catching people like that it isn't squealing - it just helps to clear such dross out of the way of normal human beings.
I got quite carried away there for a moment but it does make me mad. However, anyone who went shouldn't get the idea that there were bad vibes around the place. The few incidents which did occur were obviously by people who wanted tickets to sell - not get in themselves.
Close on 2,000 people had a whale of a time - and didn't they give owner Gerry Marshall an ovation. It started with cheers and handclaps and ended with foot stamping and went on for a couple of minutes. As I mentioned earlier there were representatives from lots of pop papers there and although quite a number didn't go for the music ( which led to soom heated arguments with Bob Mills, Wes and myself! ) most of them were incredibbly moved by the size and the atmosphere of the occasion.
Certainly a night to remember and I would like to extend my personal thanks to Mike, Gerry, Russ, Richard, Kev and all the other D.J.'s - but more especially to all the friends that I have made over the last year for ensuring that I've never yet had a bum night at Wigan Casino. Happy Birthday and many happy returns!
                 
WIGAN CASINO C/O Frank Elson ( May 1975 )
   After a "rest" of a couple of months I meandered my way to Wigan Casino for the All-Nighter and it was like coming home.
I made a decision to give the Casino a break in the days when the complaints about overcrowding and trouble at the door were at their height but I'm pleased to say that on this later visit there were no problems at all. There are now two openings for getting into the Casino ( not counting the back door where bouncers earn "overtime" ) and the overcrowding seems to be a thing of the past. Probably, another symptom of having been away for so long was the fact that the place seemed much less crowded and much more happier and pleasant than it was.
The music certainly seems to have improved a hell of a lot and I've got a nice list of tips from Russ and Richard. Russ' first - Lou Edwards "Talkin' 'bout poor folks"; Toni Lamar "Need to be loved"; Chandeliers "The who who song"; Lesley Gore "Can't get enough"; Richard Temple "Love runs out"; Vicky Adams "I'm drowning"; Tempos "I'll be so happy"; Lorraine Chandler "Love you baby".
Richards tips - "Best thing for you baby" Gloria Parker; "I can't change" Lorraine Chandler; "Sweet baby" Al Gardner; "I'll always love you" Sam Moultrie ( even got offered £100 for my own copy ! ); "Contact" Three Degrees; "Talkin' 'bout poor folks" Lou Edwards; "On the road to ruin" Earl Wright; "I love my baby" International GTO's; "Salvation" Robert Thomas. Some bloody good records there.
All those "regulars" who, like me got a little fed up with the Casino should follow my example and go back for another look, I think you'll all be pleasantly surprised. Wigan Casino seems to have got over all its troubles and its now as good as it ever was.
I had a very long chat with Manager Mike Walker who told me that they have suspended membership to the Casino for a while as one way of slowing down the crowds. He also had a few uncomplimentary things to say about the National and "Pop" press and the record companies for the way they have commercialised the Northern Soul Scene and used Wigan Casino for their own ends. Record companies can note that they are no longer welcome to the Casino. Richard and Russ feel the same way, as do I, and it seems that we've all awakened from a deep sleep to come back out into the sunshine. Forget the Wigan's Ovation and the Sounds of Lancashire and all that rot. What does it matter if they get into the charts ? We now know that good Northern Soul doesn't stand a chance. Let the record companies delude themselves - they can count the money so long as we're left alone - and anyway, now and again good Soul music does get released so that we, who do like good music, can still buy it.
So what else happened out at Wigan ? Arnie Clark was there - celebrating his freedom and loving the sounds in Mr M's courtesy of Mike Rolo, Kenny Spence, Dave Evison, Billy Paul and Derek Banner. Still as popular as ever that room and it was really nice to see the way people were dancing to the oldies. I flipped when Mike Rolo played Ramsey Lewis' "Wade in the water" !
It's funny but I hear of oldies being sold at the inflated prices used for contemporary sounds these days. Funny but sad, don't ever pay a lot of money for an oldie, there's plenty of chance of getting it at a lower price if you look.
                 
Dave Evison's Oldies Spot at Wigan Casino proving to be somewhat of an embarassment since some of these way back sounds are proving to be more popular amongst the younger set than the "latest discoveries" in the main hall . . . Inevitable perhaps since every record is "new" until you've heard it, and a good record regardless of whether it was in the spotlight two years ago or not . . . no one disco covers the entire nation on its playlist, even though some of the jocks think they call the shots . . . Dave Evison is a veteran Soul follower who puts a lot of thought into his weekly compilations . . . so much so, that the only disc he plays more than once is his all time favorite "Love you baby" by Eddie Parker on ASHFORD . . . a minor indulgence compared to the colossal indulgences we see in other quarters . . . . And whose got "exclusive" emidiscs of unisued sides by The Exciters then? . . . . I know at least one label rejected them when they auditioned duplicates, and those duplicates are still around . . . more stunning details as they embarrassingly develop . . . . .