Former English teacher writes book on history of Manchester’s music scene

Date published: 21 November 2020

Former English teacher, Richard Lysons, has written a new book chronicling the history of one of Manchester’s most famous music venues, the Free Trade Hall.

‘Were You There? Popular Music at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall - 1951 to 1996’ will be published on Friday (20 November), and is Mr Lysons’ first full-length book.

The Free Trade Hall was arguably the most popular music venue in the country after being reconstructed after the Blitz, and played host to some of the most iconic names in music, including Billie Holliday, Blondie, Duke Ellington, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Happy Mondays, The Beach Boys, David Bowie and Suede.

Richard, of Littleborough, first attended a Free Trade Hall concert in 1972 and has held an interest in the venue ever since.

‘Were You There’ is aimed at anyone who ever attended a concert at the hall or who is interested in the musical history of Britain's musical capital.

It features Lysons’ thoroughly researched commentary on every headline act, as well his narrative on what was going on in the wider Manchester music scene.

There are also important photographs of blues gigs by Brian Smith who attended many concerts at the hall throughout the 1960s.

The book will feature a foreword by popular music and Bob Dylan expert, Clinton Heylin.

Richard is also an avid historian, community rail advocate and Chairman of the Friends of Littleborough Station, who has previously carried out research for the booklet, ‘Discovering Amazing Women by Rail’, which was published in 2018.

‘Discovering Amazing Women’ tracks the life and times of extraordinary women from 32 towns and villages from the mid-Chesire line (Chester to Manchester) and Calder Valley Railway Line (Leeds to Manchester).

‘Were You There?’ can be bought from Empire Publications via:

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