Caught by the River

Remember Roger Eagle

27th April 2009


Next Monday, May 4th, is the tenth anniversary of the passing of Roger Eagle.

OK, here comes a curve ball. Back in January I hit the google button in search of a photo of Roger Eagle to accompany a post by Kevin Pearce on CBTR. Kevin had mentioned Roger in issue 2 of his ‘Your Heart Out’ fanzine. The search gave up the pic I’ve used above, one of many great shots taken at the Wheel by Roger’s friend and colleague Brian Smith. It was then that I noticed the date of his passing and realised that it was coming up to the tenth anniversary. So, with a little help from my friends I set about contacting people that knew him and sent them a letter asking for a ‘memory’.

I’ve had a great response and next Monday we are going to make all of the memories available to download. Plus, thanks to Bernie Connor, a club regular, we’ll include a selection of music from the Eric’s jukebox. To receive it you will need to be signed up to this site as it will come as an e mail. Just put your e address in the box above.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with the name, Roger was a DJ and club runner who made a mark in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s. They were pretty big marks as it goes, big enough to have become legacy and certainly big enough for us all to pay our respects and make next Monday ‘Remember Roger Eagle’ day.

In 1964 Roger became the resident DJ at The Twisted Wheel nightclub in Manchester. This was the first time that he had ever been a DJ.
When he moved in the club was playing the beat music that was popular at the time but Roger’s love was black American rock ‘n’ roll and Rhythm & Blues. He immediately changed the club’s music policy simply by playing what he loved and before long the Wheel became one of the (two?) most important clubs in the country. But it was more than that. He played great records. Records that you couldn’t hear any where else. He sought them out with a hunger and played them with a passion. He built up a following, of mods, of
fanatics, of people who talk of it to this day. He inspired people. He created a ‘scene’, a scene that would eventually (and at that club) become known as ‘Northern Soul’.

But, of course, by then, like all true hipsters, he was gone, on to ‘The Magic Village’, among other places. On to managing Manchester’s first psychedelic band ‘Greasy Bear’ (later to become Albertos Y Lost Trios Paranoias) and eventually on to Liverpool, where he promoted shows at the Liverpool Stadium – Bowie, Beefheart, Lou Reed and, as documented brilliantly elsewhere by Bill Drummond, Roogalator.

Then, in 1976, Roger along with mates Ken Testi and Pete Fulwell opened up their own club, Eric’s, in Mathew Street. Local heroes Deaf School played the opening night and from then on in the club became the second home for the new Mersey beatniks who would meet and form groups in the hope of getting to play at ‘their’ club on the same stage that they had watched the Ramones, The Pistols, The Clash, the Banshees and the Buzzcocks play.

Among those groups were Big In Japan, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, OMD, The Spitfire Boys and Dead or Alive. Some folk started record labels, most notably Zoo, started by Bill Drummond and Dave Balfe.

But this is Roger’s life in a very small nutshell. He was bigger than all of it. There are a million more stories, and, put simply, if you give a toss about these things, I think he was an inspiration whether you knew it or not. For me he is one of the most important people in British music culture.

This week Caught By The River will remember Roger Eagle.