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10 Iconic Bands From Manchester


So, who are Manchester’s biggest bands of all time? We’ve covered the 60’s, the 70’s and of course the cities “Madchester” era during the ’80s. Check our top 10 below. As always, if missed someone, let us know.


Formed in 1991, Oasis are purveyors of no-nonsense, in your face anthemic, British guitar rock. Liam and Noel Gallagher both hail from the Manchester suburb of Burnage. Liam had joined a local band The Rain(featuring eventual Oasis members Paul McGuigan and Bonehead), soon joined the band and the outfit became the classic Oasis line-up. Signing to indie label Creation in 1993, the band released the huge selling albums Definitely Maybe(1994) and (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? (1995). Oasis has sold over 75 million records worldwide, and have had eight UK number-one singles and eight UK number-one albums. They were listed in the Guinness World Records book in 2010 for “Longest Top 10 UK Chart Run by a Group” after an unprecedented run of 22 top 10 hits in the UK.The band also holds the Guinness World Record for the most successful act in the UK between the years 1995 and 2005, spending 765 weeks in the top 75 singles and albums charts. After releasing its seventh album, Dig Out Your Soul, in 2008, the band split.


Formed in Manchester in 1982, Smiths singer Morrissey looked as if he would make a living as a writer or poet, but pop stardom was always on the horizon and upon meeting guitarist and songwriter Johnny Marr, the foundations were built for one of Britain’s greatest pop bands. After the addition of bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce, the Smiths created four classic albums and over a dozen ‘perfect’ pop singles. Critics have called them one of the most important bands to emerge from the British independent music scene of the 1980s. NME named the Smiths the “most influential artist ever” in a 2002 poll, and in 2003, three of the band’s albums appeared on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Following their split in 1987, rumors of a reunion continue to circulate to this day.


The Hollies became one of the leading British groups of the 1960s. If you need proof, how about 231 weeks on the UK singles charts during the 1960s. Formed by Allan Clarke and Graham Nash in 1962, Nash ended up leaving the group in 1968 to form the super-group Crosby, Stills & Nash. The Hollies could certainly write pop songs with a deeper meaning, and their track ‘Bus Stop’ is firmly rooted in the everyday normality of life around the small towns surrounding Manchester. Decades later The Smiths and Oasis would be writing about the same subject matter. Over five decades the band has had at least 60 singles or EPs and 26 albums charting somewhere in the world. The Hollies had over 30 charting singles on the UK Singles Chart, and 22 on the Billboard Hot 100, with major hits on both sides of the Atlantic that included “Just One Look”, “Look Through Any Window”, “I Can’t Let Go,” “Stop Stop Stop”, “On a Carousel”, “Carrie Anne”, “Jennifer Eccles”, and later “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”, “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress”, and “The Air That I Breathe” The Hollies were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.



Joy Division was formed in Salford, Greater Manchester, in 1976. The band consisted of singer Ian Curtis, guitarist, and keyboardist Bernard Sumner, bassist Peter Hook and drummer Stephen Morris. Sumner and Hook formed the band after attending a Sex Pistols concert and originally started out life as young punks until their love of Bowie, The Velvet Underground, and synth-propelled prog rock took them into a darker direction.  Their self-released 1978 debut EP An Ideal for Living drew the attention of the Manchester television personality Tony Wilson, who signed them to his independent label Factory Records, and their debut album Unknown Pleasures was released in 1979. Sadly, by the time the follow-up Closer was released, Curtis has died: he committed suicide in May 1980. Joy division as we knew it was over, but the rest of the band vowed to carry on…


Ian Brown and John Squire met at Altrincham Grammar School and formed The Stone Roses Manchester in 1983. Known as one of the founders and pioneers of the ‘Madchester’ movement in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the band’s lineup consists of vocalist Ian Brown, guitarist John Squire, bassist Mani, and drummer Reni. Their debut album, The Stone Roses was released in 1989 and the band garnered critical acclaim overnight, with many critics regarding it as one of the greatest British albums ever recorded. High praise indeed. The album was a mix of classic indie and psychedelia, and it was 5 long years before a follow-up arrived: titled The Second Coming. The band called it quits in 1996, but in 2011 they announced comeback shows and new material. Fast forward to the 24thof June 2017, the Stone Roses played at Hampden Park in Glasgow. During the performance, Ian Brown addressed the crowd with the statement: “Don’t be sad that it’s over, be happy that it happened,” leading many to speculate that the performance would be their final concert.


Easily one of City’s most-loved bands, Elbow were formed by Guy Garvey and Craig Potter after they met at Bury College in 1990. They kick-started their career with a show at the Corner Pin pub in Ramsbottom Manchester, and the rest is history. After releasing their debut album: Asleep In The Back in 2001, the band went on to win the Mercury Prize in 2008 with their hugely well-received fourth outing: The Seldom Seen Kid. The band has released seven studio albums, all of which (including their B-sides compilation: Dead in the Boot 2012), all reached the top 15 of the British album chart. Seven of their singles placed in the top 40 of the British singles chart. In 2008, Elbow won the Mercury Music Prize for their album: The Seldom Seen Kid, and in 2009 they won the Brit Award for Best British Group


One of Manchester’s best for sure, Buzzcocks were formed in Bolton in 1976 around Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley.  Buzzcocks were unchallenged pioneers of punk in Manchester, even putting on gigs and inviting the Sex Pistols to perform in the city for the first time. Self -motivated, their debut EP, Spiral Scratch, was self-produced on their own label and inspired countless other bands to join the DIY indie scene. Devoto left early on to form the band Magazine, but the band continued on and they achieved commercial success with singles like “Ever Fallen in Love” (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve) that fused pop craftsmanship with rapid-fire punk energy. These singles were collected on Singles Going Steady, a compilation that was described by critic Ned Raggett as a “punk masterpiece. Pete Shelley died on the 6thof December 2018.


Following the death of singer Ian Curtis in1980, the remaining members of Joy Division agreed to retire the name. Starting from scratch as New Order, the band added Gillian Gilbert on extra guitar and keyboards. As the 1980s progressed, New Order changed their sound as they became more interested in the electronica and production style that was taking hold of the music scene. Straight out of the box the produced the biggest selling 12” single of all time with the classic: “Blue Monday.” Despite bassist Peter Hook leaving, the band returned in 2015 with a new album, Music Complete.


The band was formed in Oldham in 1983 by old school-friends Graham Lambert (guitar) and Stephen Holt (vocals). Inspiral Carpets really came to prominence when they recruited organist Clint Boon. Following his addition, the band was soon immersed into the burgeoning “Madchester” scene. Their songs, now sung by Tom Hingley, with the added quirkiness of Boon’s psychedelic keyboards, gave them chart success in the early 90s with tracks like “This Is How It Feels” and “Move.”


Formed in Salford in 1980, it took almost 10 years until the end of the decade that Shaun and Paul Ryder’s band of trippy indie funksters signed to the legendary Factory Records. The band also featured their mate Bez as percussionist/dancer, and their unorthodox take on dance-rock fitted right in with the post-Acid House boom. The bands single: “Step On” hit the Top 5 in the UK in 1990, and even though the follow-up album Pills N’ Thrills And Bellyaches was a success, the album pretty much bankrupted Factory. They split in 1993 but have reformed several times in subsequent decades.


  1. the beegees would dwarf most of these bands in terms of sucess and longevity, having produced the biggest selling album of all time at the time of release, i know it`s not cool to include them but they are mancs and they were very succesful not only in performance and sales but songwriting, but M-people are still shite…but there are masses of bands/artists who should be here..


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