Photography by Harry Potts
John Roadhouse is the owner of Johnny Roadhouse Music. The store is an icon in the musical history of the UK’s most music-obsessed city and has been a permanent fixture on Oxford Road in since 1955.
A cornerstone of Manchester music, Johnny Roadhouse Music specialise in buying, selling and the part exchange of equipment. Musicians of all ages and experience levels have purchased their gear from the store for almost 70 years. Customers have included, Joy Division, Buzzcocks, The Smiths, Oasis and even Sir Paul McCartney - who borrowed an acoustic guitar for a session at the nearby BBC.
Johnny Roadhouse Music
John Roadhouse was born at St Mary's Hospital, Manchester in 1963. He was raised in Moss Side and moved to Chorlton as a young boy. John was encouraged by his dad Johnny Snr to join the family business as a teenager and took over the running of Johnny Roadhouse Music on his dad's passing in 2009.
Johnny Roadhouse Music was established by legendary saxophonist Johnny Roadhouse Snr (born 1921) who decided to create a store for musicians that was run by musicians.
Johnny Roadhouse Snr outside the store
Johnny Roadhouse in his BBC Northern Variety Orchestra days
Originally an aircraft fitter with Metropolitan-Vickers at Trafford Park, the self-taught saxophonist began to play with local dance groups during his spare evenings. Johnny got his first big break when he became a member of the Teddy Foster orchestra in 1948. He later went on to join the BBC Northern Variety Orchestra in 1953 and opened up his music store, Johnny Roadhouse Music in 1955. Johnny played with many of the greats of music and entertainment, including Elton John, Bob Hope, The Beatles and The Hallé Orchestra.
The man was an absolute institution in Manchester. All the biggest bands have been through those doors since the days when Top of the Pops was made in the city – Terry Christian, TV and radio presenter
Johnny Roadhouse Snr was presented with a Lifetime Achievement award by the Lord Mayor of Manchester in 2005.
The Oasis connection: In the early 1990s, the band would be regular customers at Johnny Roadhouse Music, with some of their early equipment purchases helping to create their unique sound. Noel describes in a recent 'music tech' video how the WEM amplifier he bought from the store defined the Oasis guitar sound. Noel goes on to explain how he and Bonehead both bought Epiphone guitars from the store and how he used his Epiphone to write the (What's the Story) Morning Glory? album.
Noel Gallagher explains how Johnny Roadhouse Music had a profound influence on the early Oasis sound
Johnny Roadhouse Music as featured in Oasis' 'Masterplan' video
Every single band in Manchester has gone through Johnny Roadhouse Music at some stage - it's impossible not to. Music shops come and go, but Johnny Roadhouse stays. It's synonymous with Manchester music – Mike Joyce, former Smiths drummer
Such was Oasis' affection for Johnny Roadhouse Music, the band chose to feature the store in their 2007 L.S Lowry inspired video for The Masterplan.