DJ’s Mike Pickering, Graeme Park, Greg Wilson, Jon Dasilva, Tom Wainwright, Allister Whitehead, Hewan Clarke and Chad Jackson were responsible for the musical direction of The Hacienda, playing week in week out at the club, breaking the records that went on to influence dance music worldwide.
They remain masters of their craft and return to the club with them not only having shaped the music policy but with the club having shaped many of their careers.
Mike Pickering, who has found world-wide success with M People and as a record exec with Deconstruction and now Columbia Records, was the club’s original booking manager, hired prior to the club’s opening in May 1982 by his old friend Rob Gretton.
Staying at the club for a full decade, Mike worked across both the indie and the acid house eras of the club. “It was wonderful prior to acid house. People didn’t come in there for a while but we still had an amazing time. Like 150 people, like it was very secret society.”
When Mike took his first ever holiday in June of that year, Graeme Park was called in to deputise. He had gained a reputation for championing the development of house music at Nottingham’s The Bomb and first DJ’d at The Hac as well as playing live with Groove at February 1988’s Northern House Revue.
“The whole night was amazing, within 20 minutes the whole place was packed which was a weird one as well. And then for three weeks I had an absolute ball, I didn’t want it to end. And then I got a call from Mike after I’d headed back to Nottingham the following week asking “Did I want to come and do it with him every week?” and I was like, “Absolutely, yes!”
He remained at FAC 51 for an unbroken eight year stint, first sharing the decks with Mike, then taking over Saturday nights when the club split the Park / Pickering partnership in May 1991.
The first ever resident DJ, Hewan Clarke aka The Big H, will play a special set of early Eighties cuts reflecting the eclectic sounds that characterised the club early doors. Hewan was a veteran DJ in town by the time The Hacienda opened, having cut his teeth at clubs like The Nile, The Reno, Fevers and Berlin. Mixing his staple soul and jazz funk cuts with commercial early Eighties pop,
Tony Wilson claimed Hewan was his second favourite DJ in the world, second only to New York’s Frankie Crocker and made him The Hacienda’s debut resident which meant an almost week long residency.
“I was doing practically every night. Tony Wilson was very ahead of his time, saying that black music was going to be the next commercial dance music. I never thought like that in those days, I just got on with playing the music.”
Also representing The Hacienda’s early years is the legend that is Greg Wilson, bringing his sublime selection of remixes and edits to the event. Although only resident for a four month period, Greg returned to the decks in the early Noughties becoming much in demand and greatly acclaimed in the process.
“The Haçienda was never a club in the conventional sense, somewhere underpinned by sound business logic – that was both its strength and its weakness. It was all about crazy dreamers, people like Tony Wilson, Rob Gretton and Mike Pickering, who kept believing, initially very much against the odds, that it would all somehow come together, which it eventually did in such a seismic way. I’m just happy to have played my bit part, helping sow the seeds that would lead to the venues phenomenal rise later in the decade.”|
Despite his American sounding name, Chad Jackson hails from the North West and with Greg Wilson pioneered the art of mixing in the early Eighties, playing at clubs like Legends and Wigan Pier before being asked to take control of The Hacienda’s new Saturday night, “Big Noise” in 1985. Later responsible for the number one hit, “Hear The Drummer Get Wicked”, Chad was also crowned Technics/DMC World DJ Mixing Champion in 1987 and also may have been the first to play house music at the club.
As the club entered the Acid House era, the mercurial Jon Dasilva, whose talents have seen him dubbed ‘the Eric Cantona of house music’ was recruited to spin the emerging sounds of the underground at seminal nights including Hot, Wide, Void and Shiva. Jon’s innovative style and use of soundtracks, as well as mixing in key came to inspire many DJ’s including a young Sasha who has consistently name checked Jon as one of his key early influences.
“Initially, the scene was very small. You were only talking about a few hundred people really in what is a very big city but those few hundred people it changed their lives.”
When the club re-opened in May 1991, Tom Wainwright became a resident and supported Graeme Park on the club’s new Saturday night. Considered more upmarket than its Friday night counterpart Shine which replaced Nude, the Saturday didn’t have a name and was represented by a squiggle design. Playing the cream of US house and garage, Tom would warm up for Graeme playing deep house and dubs and went on to remain on Saturday duty for five years until 1996.
“Playing at the club was huge for me. I started going in 1987, and I used to go three or four times a week. By the time I got to DJ there I’d spent several years on the dancefloor and had a pretty good idea about what made the club tick. I was lucky enough to play at a lot of great clubs around the world, but for me nowhere really came close to playing at The Hacienda ”
Allister Whitehead became a resident at the club in 1992 at Friday night’s ‘Shine.’ Originally covering for Mike when he was on tour and recording with M People, Allister remembers some very special Fridays, including playing alongside Todd Terry and Kevin Saunderson, as well as the infamous foam parties.
“Not many DJ’s got the chance to play the Hacienda, it was like being asked to play for England. To play the Hacienda at full pelt was a rare thing for a DJ apart from Graeme and Mike. The memories I will l keep with me forever. I thank you Mike Pickering, Graeme Park, Peter Hook, Ang Mathews and everyone at the club.”
The Xmas Residents Party @ Sankeys
Tuesday 27th December / 10pm to 5am
Sankeys, Radium St Manchester, M4 6JG
Tickets : £12 Earlybird / £15