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Soul City Limits
Heart Of Soul
Imbers Ovation
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Hello all, I really do not know where to start or for that matter where to finish. Let me tell you a bit about wigans ovation, well I joined the band in 1973, back then their name was “forum” I had never sang live on stage before and one of the reasons for me joining the band was that I could not go on working shifts anymore.

The band took a chance me, because they had been going since the 60’s. Back then they were called “the wigan piers” they were very good, and on occasion, they were supported by groups of such caliber as; the moody blues, the squires, and an up and coming welsh lad called tom jones. They didn’t do to bad for themselves did they?. Anyway, “the forum” and later, in the glitter days, “sparkle” we did all the working mens clubs and disco’s up and down the country, trying to make a name for ourselves, then one day we were booked to play a ballroom in wigan, called of course “the casino”.

We used to play there about every 6 weeks or so then one night around mid-night as we we’re packing our gear away and getting ready to leave the doors burst open and all these kids rushed in. I asked mike(walker), who was the manager of wigan casino and who, 2 years later, was to become manager of wigans ovation, “whats going on?” and he told me that, “it was something new he was trying for a few weeks, you’ll never know”, he said, “it may never catch on” of course it was the first northern soul all nighter. It was a massive success and the rest they say “is history”.

I had always been a big fan of soul music, and all my friends thought I was mad, they we’re all into the beatles and rock ‘n’ roll, I used to be into bands like james green, the clovers, ray charles etc, so the all-nighters were a breath of fresh air to me. However, being on the road a lot with the band meant that I would not be able to goto as many I wished I could have, but Sundays we would go straight to the casino around 4 or 5am, it was unbelievable.

One day in 1975 we were doing a couple of soul tracks in our set, skiing in the snow and the snake, we couldn’t do many soul tracks when doing a gig because we had to earn a living and not many people in the clubs we played liked that type of music. Mike walker asked us would we like to go down to London to record a single version of skiing in the snow. We jumped at the chance and were very excited. We never thought that the single would do anything but it was a challenge and a break from all the dingy working mens clubs.

We waited for the word to goto London and in the meantime I wrote northern soul dancer for the b-side. We had a load of fun in the studio and we thought everything went well so we returned home and back to the working mens clubs performing either side of the bingo. Then about 3 weeks later we were in hartlepool doing a week of shows, when we got the word that the record was finished, all the trumpets and violins had been added. We very quickly aquired a copy and dashed off to the casino to hear how it sounded in a big room mike put it on the decks and we listened, it sounded fantastic, we couldn’t believe it. I had to pinch myself, I couldn’t grasp that it was me singing, 2 weeks later we were invited to perform the single on top of the pops, not bad for 2 lads from Bolton (alf the drummer, and me) and 2 lads from wigan (phil and pete on guitars)altogether we had 3 singles in the charts in 1975 skiing in the snow, personally and superlove and appeared on top of the pops 13 times in total, the band actually split in 1976 but not before being ripped off by promoters and the like but I must’nt go into that to much.

I started a band of my own but was never happy without the lads, they were like family to me. So in 1977 we got back together again but the spark had gone, we kept going on and off until about 1984 when our manager mike walker killed himself, for what reason nobody knows to this day. We all gave up after that , we’d had enogh and done things far beyond our expectations. We were there at the beginning and the end of the casino which, lets face it, was as near to the cavern of the 60’s as you could get. There will never be another wigan casino it truly was an unbelievable place. Im sure the legacy will remain strong even though the building has gone. I hope you enjoyed my little reminisce and if there are any questions, mail me and I’ll be more than happy to answer them.

Good luck, keep the faith.

Jim McClusky

This Northern Soul Circle site


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