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Muhammad Ali, Ovaltine and the tale of the missing Factory Records poster

Andy Spinoza

Manchester PR guru Andy Spinoza has a new book on the shelves, Manchester Unspun: Pop, Property and Power in the Original Modern City, in which he promises to sort the truth from the spin over the past 40 year’s of the city’s history.

Spanning the City Life and SKV Communications founder’s 40+ years as an adopted Manc, the book’s story arc takes us from Spinoza’s early days in the decaying industrial city as a student in the late seventies and early eighties through to its current renaissance as an international hub for the arts, creative and tech industries dubbed “Manc-hattan” due to developers’ fondness of squeezing skyscrapers onto every spot of spare land they can find in the city centre.

All the familiar faces and stories are there, from Tony Wilson, Joy Division and the birth of The Hacienda through to more recent fixtures such as “King of the North” Andy Burnham, via household names like Anna Friel, Timperley’s finest the late Chris Sievey/Frank Sidebottom (who played his own small part in the city’s emergence as a hub for film and TV by training as an animator at Altrincham’s erstwhile Hot Animation, home to Bob the Builder and Pingu, during his downtime from making Papier-mâché heads), Shaun Ryder, Bernard Manning and Sir Alex Ferguson.

Spinoza even promises a walk-on part for Muhammad Ali, who had a little-publicised penchant for picking up cans of Ovaltine from Stretford Mall in the seventies.

Spinoza, who modestly notes he has “met, interviewed, irritated and worked with just about anyone of note in the city in the last four decades,” said: “Manchester unspun is an account from punk to the pandemic of how the 1982 opening of the Hacienda gave the kiss of life to a dying city centre, and of the chain reaction it began leading to today’s dynamic international city. It’s also a memoir of my experiences working with the famous personalities in music, football, business and politics who made Manchester the most headline- grabbing city in the UK.”

Speaking of The Hacienda, no paean to the joys of Manchester is complete without a thorough re-re-re-retelling of the Factory Records story, and the book sees the label’s designer, Peter Saville, launch a public appeal for the return of the original poster he designed for the very first Factory club night, the forerunner of The Hacienda and a regular gig for the likes of Joy Division, Durutti Column and Crispy Ambulance.

The poster was seemingly stolen, or perhaps just borrowed, when Saville lent it to The Cornerhouse for an exhibition at some point in the nineties. Saville would now like to see the poster join the collection at the recently opened British Pop Archive in the city’s John Ryland’s Library.

If you’ve been guiltily hoarding said item for the last two or three decades, we’re sure the archive will gladly take it back, no questions asked.

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