Madchester was a music and cultural scene that developed in the Manchester area of North West England in the late 1980s, in which artists merged alternative rock with acid house culture and other sources, including psychedelia and 1960s pop. The label was popularised by the British music press in the early 1990s, and included groups such as Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets, Northside, 808 State and James amongst others.
The rave-influenced scene is widely seen as heavily influenced by drugs, especially ecstasy (MDMA). At that time, the Haçienda nightclub, co-owned by members of New Order, was a major catalyst for the distinctive musical ethos in the city that was called the Second Summer of Love.
The opening of the Haçienda nightclub, an initiative of Factory Records, in May 1982 was also influential in the development of popular culture in Manchester. For the first few years of its life, the club played predominantly club oriented pop music and hosted gigs from artists including New Order, Cabaret Voltaire, Culture Club, Thompson Twins and the Smiths. It had DJs such as Hewan Clarke and Greg Wilson and switched focus from being a live venue to being a dance club by 1986. In 1987 the Hacienda started playing house music with DJs Mike Pickering, Graeme Park and "Little" Martin Prendergast hosting the Nude night on Fridays.
The Festival of the Tenth Summer in July 1986, organised by Factory Records, helped to consolidate Manchester's standing as a centre for alternative pop-culture. The festival included film-screenings, a music seminar, art shows and gigs by the city's most prominent bands, including an all-day gig at Manchester G-Mex featuring A Certain Ratio, the Smiths, New Order and the Fall. According to Dave Haslam, the festival demonstrated that "the city had become synonymous with ... larger-than-life characters playing cutting edge music ... Individuals were inspired and the city was energised; of it's [sic] own accord, uncontrolled".
Another key factor in the build-up to Madchester was the sudden availability of the drug ecstasy in the city, beginning in 1987 and growing the following year. According to Dave Haslam: "Ecstasy use changed clubs forever; a night at the Haçienda went from being a great night out, to an intense, life changing experience".
By the late 1980s, the British music was symbolised by a robust sound such as a Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet and the pop music of Stock, Aitken and Waterman. The Guardian stated that 'The '80s looked destined to end in musical ignominy.' The Madchester movement burgeoned, its sound was new and refreshing and its popularity soon grew.
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Although the Madchester scene cannot really be said to have started before 1988 (the term "Madchester" was not coined until a year after that by Factory Records video director Philip Shotton), many of its most significant bands and artists were around on the local scene long before then.
The Stone Roses were formed in 1984 by singer Ian Brown and guitarist John Squire, who had grown up on the same street in Timperley, a district of Altrincham, to the south-west of Manchester. They had been in bands together since 1980, but the Stone Roses were the first to release a record, "So Young", in 1985. The line-up was completed by Alan "Reni" Wren on drums and, from 1987, Gary "Mani" Mounfield on bass.
The Happy Mondays were formed in Salford in 1980. The members between then and the break-up of the band in 1992 were Shaun Ryder, his brother Paul, Mark "Bez" Berry, Paul Davis, Mark Day and Gary Whelan. They were signed to Factory Records, supposedly after Haçienda DJ Mike Pickering saw them at a Battle of the Bands contest in which they came last (the winners being Manchester band the Brigade). They released two singles - "45", produced by Pickering in 1985, and "Freaky Dancin'", produced by New Order's Bernard Sumner in 1986 - before putting out an album produced by John Cale and bearing the title Squirrel and G-Man Twenty Four Hour Party People Plastic Face Carnt Smile (White Out) in 1987.
The Inspiral Carpets were formed in Oldham in 1986. The line-up was Clint Boon (organ), Stephen Holt (vocals - Tom Hingley would not join up until the beginning of 1989), Graham Lambert (guitar), Martyn Walsh (bass) and Craig Gill (drums). They released a flexi-disc a year later, and in 1988 the Planecrash EP (on their own Cow Records) brought them to the attention of John Peel.
James were formed in 1981 by Paul Gilbertson and Jim Glennie (after whom the band was named), recruiting Drama student Tim Booth on vocals and Gavan Whelan on drums (Gilbertson and Whelan were to leave the band before it attained commercial success). They released their first EP, Jimone on Factory Records in 1983, and attracted critical enthusiasm, as well as the patronage of Morrissey. Sales of their two albums for Blanco y Negro Records, Stutter in 1986 and Strip-mine in 1988, were disappointing and, at the time Madchester hit, the band was using t-shirt sales to fund its own releases through Rough Trade Records. Madchester helped bring them commercial success and the single "Sit Down" became one of the most popular anthems of the era.
808 State were formed in 1988 by the owner of the Eastern Bloc Records shop on Oldham Street, Martin Price, together with Graham Massey and Gerald Simpson. The three put together an innovative live acid house set, performing at various venues around town, and releasing an acclaimed and influential album Newbuild on Price's own label. Simpson left soon after the release of Newbuild, but went on to record as A Guy Called Gerald.
Only "Voodoo Ray" was a commercial success, but by December, a sense had started to develop in the British music press that there was something going on in the city. According to Sean O'Hagan, writing in the NME: "There is a particularly credible music biz rumour-come theory that certain Northern towns -- Manchester being the prime example -- have had their water supply treated with small doses of mind-expanding chemicals ... Everyone from Happy Mondays to the severely disorientated Morrissey conform to the theory in some way. Enter A Guy Called Gerald, out of his box on the limitless possibilities of a bank of keyboards".
The Stone Roses' following increased as they gigged around the country and released the "Made of Stone" single in February 1989.Bob Stanley (later of Saint Etienne), reviewing the Stone Roses album in Melody Maker wrote: "this is simply the best debut LP I've heard in my record buying lifetime. Forget everybody else. Forget work tomorrow".
This sound, which was to become known as "baggy", generally includes a combination of funk, psychedelia, guitar rock and house music. In the Manchester context, the music can be seen as mainly influenced by the indie music that had dominated the city's music scene during the 1980s, but also absorbing the various influences coming through the Haçienda.
Alongside the music, a way of dressing emerged that gave baggy its name. Baggy jeans (often flared) alongside brightly coloured or tie-dye casual tops and general '60s style became fashionable first in Manchester and then across the country - frequently topped off with a fishing hat in the style sported by the Stone Roses' drummer Reni. The overall look was part rave, part retro or part hippie, part football casual. Many Madchester bands had football casual fans and a number of bands even wore football shirts.Shami Ahmed's Manchester-based Joe Bloggs fashion label specialised in catering for the scene, making him a multi-millionaire.
The Happy Mondays record, featuring the lead track "Hallelujah!", coined the term "Madchester" - it had originally been suggested by their video directors the Bailey Brothers as a potential t-shirt slogan.
In November, the Stone Roses performed a gig at London's Alexandra Palace and were invited onto BBC2's high-brow Late Show (during their performance the electricity was cut off by noise limiting circuitry and singer Ian Brown shouted "Amateurs, amateurs" as the presenter tried to link into the next item). On 23 November 1989, the Stone Roses and the Happy Mondays appeared on the same edition of Top of the Pops. The "Fools Gold" single made number 8 in the UK singles chart, becoming the biggest-selling indie single of the year.
The Charlatans came to prominence through appearances in Manchester, particularly as a support act to the Stone Roses and became strongly associated with the scene. They released a debut single "Indian Rope" in October 1989 and their second "The Only One I Know" made the UK top ten.
A number of other Manchester bands gained the attention of the music press during 1990, including World of Twist, New Fast Automatic Daffodils, the High, Northside, the Paris Angels and Intastella. These "second wave" bands, according to John Robb, "copped the critical backlash, but were making great music". and they also received a great deal of local support with TV appearances on various Granada shows and local radio play.
Outside the UK, the success of Madchester was limited, although some releases gained recognition in specialist charts around the world. In the U.S., the albums The Stone Roses, Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches and Some Friendly reached the lower echelons of the U.S. album chart. Several singles by the Stone Roses, the Inspiral Carpets, the Happy Mondays and the Charlatans were successful on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. The Happy Mondays toured the US in 1990 and charted on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Step On" reaching No. 57 in 1990. They also reached No. 1 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart, with "Kinky Afro" in 1990. The only other Madchester artist to reach No. 1 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart was the Charlatans, whose single "Weirdo" was No. 1 for the week of 23 May 1992.
On 27 May 1990, the Stone Roses performed at Spike Island in Widnes, supported by DJs Frankie Bones, Phonso Buller, Dave Haslam and Dave Booth. This concert has been described as a "Woodstock for the E generation.
The Stone Roses cancelled their June 1990 tour of the US, issuing a press statement saying: "America doesn't deserve us yet". 
The making of the next Happy Mondays album, Yes Please! was also problematic, and it would not be released until October 1992. The band flew to Barbados to record it, where they went "crack crazy", according to Paul Ryder, making repeated requests of Factory Records for extra time and additional funds. This is reputed to have been the major factor in the bankruptcy of the label in November 1992.
Local bands catching the tail-end of Madchester, such as the Mock Turtles, became part of a wider baggy scene. The music press in the U.K. began to place more focus on shoegazing bands from Southern England and bands emerging through Britpop, such as Blur and Oasis, and the U.S. grunge scene.
]Blur, from Colchester, adopted a baggy style in their early career, although in an interview with Select Magazine in 1991 they claimed to have "killed" the genre. Blur famously shared a rivalry throughout the 1990s with fellow Britpop band Oasis, who hailed from Manchester.[
There have been numerous polls in the year following the Madchester movement to find the best song of the era. In 2005, "Voodoo Ray" by A Guy Called Gerald was voted as the best song from the Madchester scene. The song beat "Step On" by the Happy Mondays and "Waterfall" by the Stone Roses for first place.
In 2010, a new nightclub managed by Peter Hook of New Order, FAC251 opened in Manchester, with musical emphasis on Madchester music. Although Madchester faded by the mid-1990s, various bands have reformed for one-off concert tours. Notable bands which reformed in 2012 include the Stone Roses, the Happy Mondays and the Inspiral Carpets.
The mushrooming of Manchester's nightlife during the Madchester period has had a long-term impact, particularly with the subsequent development of the Gay Village and Northern Quarter. City centre living is also something that began to catch on in Manchester in the wake of Madchester, and which continues to this day.
Organised crime became an unfortunate side-story to Madchester, with the vibrancy of the clubbing scene in the city (and the popularity of illegal drugs, particularly ecstasy) providing a fertile environment for opportunist gangsterism. Violent incidents at the Haçienda led to a campaign against it by Greater Manchester Police, and contributed to its closure in 1997.
In the late 1990s, a Manchester musical walk of fame was commissioned for Oldham Street in the Northern Quarter of Manchester. The walk includes a triangular slab for each music group and pays homage to bands such as the Stone Roses, the Happy Mondays, the Inspiral Carpets, 808 State, and James.
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