Currently viewing the tag: "Granada TV"

In 1980 I was working with U2, I’d been taking them in and out of radio stations prior to the release of their first single, ‘11 o’ clock tick tock’ and trying to get them in for interviews wherever I could. They had released three singles in the six months from May to October that year and we had been working relentlessly driving up and down the motorways to talk to whoever would have us. And then more of the same upfront of the release of their debut album, ‘Boy.’

You hoped all the hard work would pay off and that opportunities would come your way, you’d take some risks, take a chance on something. It might all go pear shaped but you’d never knew unless you gave it a try, it’s the reason you try it in the first place. If you believe it enough you won’t need convincing and you won’t need to convince others.

November that year was incredible. There were a few of us at Island Records who believed in the band and we were all convinced they could be huge. Rob and Neil in the press department had done an unbelievable job getting journalists along to see them play and were starting to get some really good feedback. All their efforts culminated in an NME (New Musical Express) front cover at the start of the year. I’ve rarely seen a band work so hard at cracking the UK. The previous December they had done, I think six London shows in ten days

At that time there had still been no significant breakthrough with any national radio or television exposure and we all knew we would struggle to survive on press alone. It was a catch 22 situation, in order to maintain the great press coverage they (the press) would need to see others pick up on the band; and to get radio and television interested you needed the press. We were at the crossroads, something needed to give. We needed to get that break otherwise it would be impossible to keep the momentum going.

I received some amazing news. Tony Hale the Radio One producer who was based in Manchester, and therefore a contact of mine loved the band. Were they available to record a session for the Peter Powell show? WERE THEY AVAILABLE? Too right they were available! Around the same time, maybe a week or so sooner I got confirmation that Granada TV’s network kids show ‘Get it together’ wanted to book them. I couldn’t believe my luck, all my Christmas’s had come at once. I say luck but in all honesty I had been working hard on the band for most of the year, we all had and genuinely felt we deserved this break. This was the most significant result we’d had up until now from national radio and TV in the UK. Now we were really starting to get others to believe in them. At this point we were starting to think, just maybe…..

I’d met Tony Wilson properly in 1978 when he was at Granada TV and one of the anchors on their local news program. Within the format they used to have a What’s On section which Tony presented……. which strangely enough was about what was on in the area regarding music, the arts etc. Tony had been and gone with So it Goes, Granada’s attempt to oust the BBC from their dominance of music on television…… more detail to come when I approach music on television, a worthy topic in itself, and something I remember fondly because of the people in television it introduced me to.

So it Goes had started in the summer of 1976 and had a second series run in 1977 only to see December bring it’s last ever show. When Iggy behaved rather outrageously and Granada was fending off criticism from the network Tony too was done with it and agreed it had run it’s course. With Granada being a TV station governed by advertising it was always treading dangerous waters. To give them their credit they always were more adventurous than nearly anyone out there for many years before and after So it Goes.

What Granada did and Tony especially was to break all the rules, it was anarchic and certainly the right show at the right time. I think more than anything what it did do was give Tony a buzz and make him want to be part of the scene that was developing. With his partner Alan Erasmus they started the Factory club in legendary outskirts of Manchester that was Hulme…..I say legendary because less than 100 yards away was the BBC Playhouse where I took U2 for their first UK radio session. In 1962 this was where The Beatles recorded their first radio session too, and the first time they wore those Beatle jackets! It was an old Victorian music hall, and although I’m not positive I think The Beatles played in front of an audience……..can you only imagine what it would have been like being there. I say that because I was familiar with what an incredible building it was and throw in it was the start of the sixties…..wow but 9 was far too young for my mum and dad to let me be out late!

I think Tony and Alan were captivated by CBGB’s in New York and the Velvet Underground, Talking Heads, The Ramones…..all the stuff that So it Goes had exposed him to. Prior to that Tony was in to Van Morrison , Neil Young,Jackson Browne, Leonard Cohen and brilliant as these guys were this was something totally different and very visual with it. I love Van the Man, but the word visual doesn’t always spring to mind….. They wanted somewhere to put bands on and managed to get a Friday night at The Russell Club which became The Factory for that one night……Andy Warhol recreated in their own home town. There were some amazing nights there, although I do remember wondering if my car had been stolen each time I went to a gig there…..something that later on happened once again every time I went to The Apollo in Ardwick.

Joy Division played there in October 1978 and I remember Tony turning plugger on me. After I’d been bending his ear about putting the B52’s, Grace Jones, Eddie and The Hot Rods n all on TV he was now telling me I had to come down to his new club….not only that he’d put me on the door…..and all I was thinking was that I was terrified I’d have my car nicked. I’m glad I relented.

 

I pulled up and into a meter bay right outside the front door of Granada, banged in a couple of coins and marched my band The Plastics, or two Plasticos to be exact up to reception.’Tony Michaelides and The Plastics here to see Tony Wilson…Thanks.’ The lady buzzed through to the studio and within a minute Carol, one of the ‘What’s on’ crew came through to meet us and take us down to studio. The show was just about to begin and we had about 20 minutes so I nipped them in to make up just for a quick polish and then we’d be right as rain, at least that’s what I thought. They both were fine looking specimens so I didn’t reckon they needed much of a ‘face repair.’….. I was lucky I wasn’t there with Steve Tyler or any number of road warriors,might have taken a tad longer! Everything was fairly rushed, obviously but all the time they were smiling and happy to be lead along by anxious little plugger man, notably me!

Tony was introducing a couple of items to camera and while we stood waiting in the wings we were informed that in two minutes they’d cut to a filmed item and that was our cue….we’d then be taken us on to the set for the interview and miked up. They looked very excited and were whispering to each other and giggling in what appeared mild Japanese flirtatious behavior.’Let’s go’ came the cry and on we danced.

The studio floor assistant clipped a couple of microphones on their lapels, Tony smiled at them, someone shouted ’30 seconds left’ then ’15’ and ‘go!’ I eased a sigh of relief, I knew ‘What’s on’ had the video because even in the mayhem I’d phoned ahead to check and as we were there on time no one need know how close we’d come to disaster. Tony voiced a link in to their current video, mentioned where the band would be playing and actually held up the sleeve of the single. Brilliant, much more of a plug for a relatively unknown act than I ever could have expected so I was more than happy. ‘ 30 seconds’ again came the cry, this time until the end of the video.’ ………’And action !’

Tony back announced the video made a mildly humorous comment, mentioned the forthcoming gig once more and The Plastics were on, LIVE ! ‘In the studio tonight I’m delighted to have singer Chica and guitarist Hajime from Japan’s latest sensation, The Plastics making their debut on UK television…..Welcome guys and thanks for popping in’. ‘Hello, Hi’ they uttered back through smiling, excitable grins and shiny white teeth’

‘ So what do you think of Manchester, have you had any time to look round yet?’ Tony spouted. There was a gap, probably 10 seconds , felt like an hour for me…they glanced at each other, Chica smiled and Hajime said ‘I like Beatle’ Pause, another gap, though not quite as long and Tony asked them a question about the album…..not a clue what, I just remember it was another question, another gap and again an even better smile from Chica. Hajime once again uttered ‘I like Beatle’ What the fuck, you like Beatle I was thinking…..who cares, what has that got to do with anything????

There was another gap, you couldn’t blame him but Tony expected something to follow on from ‘I like Beatle’ Nothing, not a soddin’ thing. He glanced over at me looking confused in the wings and like the complete pro he was said ‘Great video, let’s see a little more.’ ….and out from the director’s box they cut to the video……again???

We were the final item on the show so they played out with the video, Tony unclipped his microphone and headed straight towards me. ‘ Absolute classic!……..only you could bring a band in who couldn’t speak a word of fuckin’ English’

 

In 1980 I was working with U2, I’d been taking them in and out of radio stations prior to the release of their first single, ‘11 o’ clock tick tock’ and trying to get them in for interviews wherever I could. They released 3 singles in the six months from May to October and we had been working relentlessly driving up and down the motorways to talk to whoever would have us….and then more of the same upfront of the release of their debut album, ‘Boy.’

You hoped all the hard work would pay off and that opportunities would come your way, you’d take some risks, take a chance on something…..it might go pear shaped but you’d never know if you didn’t give it a go…… It’s the reason you try it in the first place.

If you believe it enough you won’t need convincing and you won’t need to convince others.

November that year was incredible. There were a few of us at Island Records who believed in the band and we were all convinced they could be huge. Rob and Neil in the press department had done an unbelievable job getting journalists along to see them play and were starting to get some really good feedback. All their efforts culminated in an NME (New Musical Express) front cover at the start of the year.

At that time there had still been no significant breakthrough with any national radio or television exposure and we all knew we would struggle to survive on press alone. In order to maintain the great press coverage they (the press) would need to see others pick up on the band……… and to get radio and television interested you needed the press, it was catch 22. We were at the crossroads, something needed to give. We needed to get that break otherwise it would be impossible to keep the momentum going.

I received some amazing news. Tony Hale the Radio One producer who was based in Manchester and therefore a contact of mine, loved the band. Were they available to record a session for the Peter Powell show? WERE THEY AVAILABLE……Damn right they were available! Around the same time, maybe a week or so sooner I got confirmation that Granada TV’s network kids show ‘Get it together’ wanted to book them. I couldn’t believe my luck….all my Christmas’s had come at once. I say luck but in all honesty I had been working hard on the band for most of the year, we all had and felt we deserved this break. This was the most significant result we’d had up until now from national radio and TV in the UK……..now we were really starting to get others to believe in them. At this point we were starting to think, just maybe…..