Caught by the River

Caught By The Reaper – Johnny Roadhouse Snr, 1921 – 2009

15th April 2009

Graham Massey pays his respects to Manchester music legend Johnny Roadhouse Snr who passed away this week;


Johnny’s shop has been a hub in the Manchester music scene since the late 50’s, linking all eras and genres together.
Situated on Oxford Rd in the university district its charming cranky edge has slightly been modernised over the years but still supports some weather beaten ‘real instruments’ nailed to the outside of the shop. When I first started shopping there as a teenager in the 1970s Americans would have called it a Pawn shop as it seemed to do house clearances, alongside the drum kits and guitar amps were
Tretchicov ‘s and radiograms, TVs and aspidistras..I think you will find many Manchester musicians that bought some crucial gear from
Johnny’s early on and remained loyal customers. I know a big chunk of 808 State s synth and keyboard collection came out of his basement, a wonderful alladins cave of neglected musical treasure. As years passed by the shop became a proper music emporium with experts in each field and expansions over three floors as it stands now run by Johnny Jnr.

I personaly didn’t know him very well but Johnny Snr was always a gent and always had time to ask after musical projects. Once we borrowed his personal “Bass Saxaphone” for a TOOLSHED concert at the Bridgewater Hall, a proud moment for me, not just because of the halls links with Manchester’s music history, but more because Johnny Snr turned up. Some kind of circle completing in my head, something linking, certainly made for some self conscious saxophone playing from me and the band (J.R. Snr played all saxes in various BBC big bands).

Graham Massey.

short biog from the shops site;

Johnny Roadhouse Music is a family owned and run music superstore that has been serving the musicians of Greater Manchester and beyond for over half a century.

We were founded by Johnny Roadhouse, a professional and world renowned saxophonist. Johnny played for the BBC for over 30 years as well as numerous other bands and musicians including the Herb Miller Band, Sir Elton John, The Beatles and many many more. Johnny was one of the founding members of the BBC Northern Variety Orchestra and the BBC Northern Dance Orchestra as well as spending 15 years with the Halle Orchestra, he has recently published his autobiography. Johnny was recently awarded a lifetime achievement award by the City of Manchester “in recognition of the outstanding contribution made by Johnny Roadhouse to Manchester’s musical history for more than 65 years” , presented by the Lord Mayor of Manchester.