Caught by the River

One Top Class Manager

13th September 2008

The notebooks of Joy Division’s manager 1978-1980

‘1 Top Class Manager’ is a collection of Rob Gretton’s working notebooks kept during his time as Joy Division’s manager.

It condenses twenty-odd notebooks into one volume, and also contains posters, letters, invoices, diaries and studio notes, dating from August 1978 to late 1980. It is a full-colour, 220-page softback, with a foreword by Jon Savage. Design is by John Coulthart with Lesley Gilbert and Abigail Ward.

‘Bands, Posters, Lights, Money’

During his twenty-one years managing Joy Division, and then New Order, Rob Gretton – a dedicated hoarder – built up a private archive of notebooks and business records (plus a wealth of memorabilia such as posters, sleeve artwork and gig tapes) in a secret lock-up in Manchester city centre.

When Rob’s wife, Lesley, decided to bring some order to this collection, she contacted Manchester District Music Archive, and together we began cataloguing the objects that Rob had left behind.

Soon we began to think about doing something in celebration of Rob’s life, using the material he had stored so diligently. And then it was decided: we would turn Rob’s Joy Division notebooks – perhaps the most intriguing element of his archive – into a book that we would publish ourselves.

So this is ‘1 Top Class Manager’ – an enthralling collage of ‘to do’ lists, gig plans, artistic manifestos and scaps of ideas from which an entirely new story of Joy Division emerges.

It debunks the myths of the trade (‘Bands, Posters, Lights, Money’ could have been another title for the book); sheds new light on one of the most talked-about music scenes in recent times; and perhaps most importantly of all, allows us a glimpse of one of Manchester music’s most influential, yet elusive, characters. It’s about world domination, Wythenshawe-style. It is the real Rob Gretton.

1 Top Class Manager