Did you know that the bass guitarist of American rock band Blondie was born in Stockport?

Or that Neil Sedaka recorded his 1972 album Solitaire there with the help of future 10cc members Eric Stewart, Graham Gouldman, Kevin Godley and Lol Crème?

Stockport, thanks to Strawberry Studios on Waterloo Road, truly was the epicentre of Manchester music in the 1970s and 80s.

The Bee Gees back in London 22nd November 1981.

The Bee Gees back in London 22nd November 1981.

Along with 10cc, the Smiths, Joy Division, Buzzcocks, Barclay James Harvest, Simply Red, Durutti Column, Happy Mondays, Crispy Ambulance and James all recorded there.

Blondie never did, even though Stockport’s Nigel Harrison played bass for the high profile band from 1977 to 1982. He joined them from the group Nite City formed by Doors’ keyboard player Ray Manzarek.

Born in April 1951, Harrison was part of the Blondie line-up that produced the group’s smash-hit third album Parallel Lines in September 1978. It went to Number One in the UK and sold 20 million copies worldwide.

10cc – the force behind Stockport’s Strawberry Studios, July 1975

10cc – the force behind Stockport’s Strawberry Studios, July 1975

The album included the UK chart-topping single Heart of Glass as well as the Top 20 songs Picture This and Hanging on the Telephone.

Harrison wrote Blondie album tracks as well as a string of hit singles with lead singer Debbie Harry. They included One Way or Another in 1978, Union City Blue in 1979 and War Child in 1982.

War Child proved to be the last single from the band’s most successful line-up of Harrison, Harry, guitarist Chris Stein, drummer Clem Burke and Jimmy Destri on keyboards.

Debbie Harry April 1977 With pop group Blondie

Debbie Harry April 1977
With pop group Blondie

While Blondie were tearing up the charts with Parallel Lines, another Stockport musician – Martin Fry – was playing additional keyboards with a band called Vice Versa.

When he switched to lead vocals in 1980, the band changed their name to ABC – and never looked back!

Born in Stretford, Fry grew up in Bramhall, Stockport, with his younger brother Jamie who was a founder member of the 1990s indie rock band Earl Brutus.

Debbie Harry Singer leader of the pop group Blondie with boyfriend Chris Stein

Debbie Harry Singer leader of the pop group Blondie with boyfriend Chris Stein

The Sex Pistols’ ground-breaking gig at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall in June 1976 inspired a host of musicians, including Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner, who recorded in Stockport.

The Salford school pals formed the band Warsaw, inspired by David Bowie’s song Warszawa, but found success with its much more familiar name – Joy Division.

Sumner and Hook were not the only artists galvanised by the Sex Pistols. Also at the concert were Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley of the Buzzcocks, Simply Red front man Mick Hucknall, and Mark E. Smith who later formed the Fall.

Stockport-born Martin Fry of ABC, May 2016

Stockport-born Martin Fry of ABC, May 2016

Presenter and impresario Tony Wilson, who created Factory Records and helped launch the Hacienda nightclub, was there too along with producer Martin Hannett and a budding young singer called Steven Morrissey.

Hook was so inspired by the raw power and energy of the Sex Pistols that he immediately borrowed £35 from his mother to buy a guitar. Terry Mason, also at the gig, bought a drum kit and joined the band. All they needed now was a vocalist.

An advert placed in the window of the Manchester Virgin Records store brought one reply. It was from Stretford-born musician Ian Curtis, who was working as a civil servant at the time.

Joy Division founder Peter Hook, October 2016

Joy Division founder Peter Hook, October 2016

Warsaw played their first gig at the Electric Circus on May 29th 1977. They supported the Buzzcocks and Manchester performance poet John Cooper Clarke.

New drummer Stephen Morris, from Macclesfield, joined the band in August 1977. The name Joy Division was chosen in 1978. It came from the sexual slavery wings of Nazi concentration camps depicted in the novel House of Dolls.

The band then signed up for Factory Records – but as their musical career progressed, the health of vocalist Curtis deteriorated. He suffered his first epileptic seizure in December 1978.

Elkie Brooks singer DBase

Elkie Brooks singer DBase

Joy Division played a live session for DJ John Peel’s Radio 1 show in January 1979 and recorded their debut album, Unknown Pleasures, at Strawberry Studios in April.

Curtis suffered more seizures, sometimes during performances, which led to the cancellation of several gigs in April 1980. The band’s final performance was at Birmingham University on May 2nd.

Curtis committed suicide on May 18th, the day before Joy Division were due to leave on an American tour. He was 23 years old. 

The Sex Pistols who played at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall, December 1976

The Sex Pistols who played at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall, December 1976

The iconic and haunting tune Love Will Tear Us Apart was released in June, reaching No. 13 in the UK charts. Its lyrics were inspired by Curtis’s marital problems and mental illness.

It has since been described by music magazine NME as the greatest single of all time.