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Jimmy versus Peter

Who’s been more important for Manchester? Peter Saville surely - not Jimmy Savile?

Published on June 23rd 2009.

Jimmy versus Peter
Yes: - 37%
No: - 63%

By popular demand here’s the vote.

This follows our story about Peter Saville having a suite named after him at the Radisson Edwardian and comments that maybe another Savile (or Saville) should be given the role of Creative Director of Manchester.

It’s Peter Saville v Jimmy Savile showfight. Who is the true Manchester champion?

On Jimmy’s side you could say he invented disco here (and in Leeds). All right he was an injured ex-miner from Yorkshire but when he arrived in Manchester he did it in his own inimitable style. As a club impresario he set up house in Lower Broughton, Salford, like a king of rock’n’roll in a swaggering show-off manner that would become his hallmark.

In Manchester he perfected the lunchtime disco at clubs like the Plaza and claims to have invented modern disco by playing continuous recorded music on two turntables without recourse to live acts. This claim has subsequently been backed up by a Parisian intellectual who wrote a history of clubbing. He also had outrageously bizarre promotions such as free polio jabs when you pay for entry into one of his clubs. In 1964 it was inevitable that Jimmy would be chosen to host a new broadcast from Manchester: Top of the Pops. He did a lot for putting the city on the sixties, pop culture map.

Then he buggered off.

As for Peter Saville, well he clearly wins in the cool stakes. He’s been defining ‘cool’ since he started producing graphic design work for Factory back in the late seventies. His simple designs have become icons of the period particularly the cover for Joy Division album Unknown Pleasures, but also with his club flyers and posters.

Subsequent work, particularly with New Order and Suede, but also with fashion houses such as Givenchy and Dior, have reinforced his credentials. But by that time he’d buggered off too. But at least he kept his hand in with Manchester as a big buddy Anthony H.

In recent years after a fabulous retrospective of his work in Urbis he’s become the city’s Creative Director and given us the phrase ‘Original Modern’ to live up to. He sees this as an encapsulation of what made the city and what should drive it now: the belief in being at the cutting edge of whatever intellectual or creative processes are taking place.

The lasting legacy of this phrase looks destined to be Manchester International Festival, which brings in new and original work from around the world every two years.

So who would you rather have representing the city?

Does Jimmy fix it for you?

Or is cool Peter the main man?

Vote on the homepage.

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19 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

D-I-S-C-O!June 23rd 2009.

Says it all really!

CasJune 23rd 2009.

Would have been better to ask if we need a creative director at all! And do the options have to be so weighted? Have you just got back from helping Iran with their elections? Vote Jimmy as we don't pay for him.

AnonymousJune 23rd 2009.

Cas, if Jimmy took up the post presumably he'd get paid for it. We're picking people here, it's like creative director pop idol

CasJune 23rd 2009.

I don't want to pay for either, it's not needed so will vote for the one not in the post ;)

PhilJune 23rd 2009.

As Jimmy spends most of his time in Scotland promoting Highland Games, being Cheiftan of god knows what clan and behaving like a a throwback from the fuedal system, why should he be voted as a Manchester icon.

Disillusioned DanJune 23rd 2009.

What a ridiculous comparison and what an obvious choice! Peter Saville is a living legend and his position as Creative Director subtly encourages Manchester to be what it is now and what it will be in the future. With respect to Jimmy, if he were appointed as representative, we'd become a laughing stock and would surely be relegated to the position of 'England's Third City'.

east lancsJune 23rd 2009.

Erm, neither the article nor the vote itself is implying that Sir Jimmy should be installed as Creative Director. It's just a bit of fun, c'mon people!

Kevin CigarJune 23rd 2009.

East Lancs, some people eh? It's a fun piece to provoke the question whether P Saville is worth the position. I thought it was funny. I voted for Jimmy.

M30June 23rd 2009.

It has to be Sir Jimmy for me. He's far less pretentious and much more inclusive. With regard to 'England's Third City', is the reason this is the case as the City of Birmingham is pretty much in one local authority area, whilst the City of Manchester also lies within Trafford (Stretford), Salford (Swinton), Tameside (Denton), Bury (Prestwich) etc. Surely we need a boundary comission as opposed to a "Creative Director"?

Disillusioned DanJune 23rd 2009.

Yes, yes, yes, I know it's a 'fun' piece, but there is a question at the end of the article asking "So who would you rather have representing the city?", to which I responded earlier. If, Kevin, you believe that the article is simply asking whether Peter Saville is worth the position, then my answer is , of course, YES!

Disillusioned DanJune 23rd 2009.

No thanks M30, I don't like the idea of a Boundary Commission. I prefer perception... it's much more inclusive. ;)

spicyJune 23rd 2009.

@Phil - loving the irony of you voting for Peter because Jimmy spends most of his time in Scotland. Peter spends all of his time in London and when he is here, as ManCon revealed yesterday, we - the counciltaxpayer - stump up for him to stay at the Radisson!@Disillusioned Dan: no wonder you're disillusioned fella if you think that Peter Saville is a good ad for Manchester! Many of us who don't feel the need to abandon the city we love for the big smoke can't bear Peter Saville and would gladly wave him off at Piccadilly if he promised to stay in his real home town of that there London and not come back up to lecture us all about culture!

Disillusioned DanJune 23rd 2009.

I wouldn't say the he abandoned Manchester. If that were the case, surely he'd have washed his hands of the city a long time ago and this article wouldn't exist? The kind of work he was looking for back in the day simply wasn't available here. Doors were opened to him in London offering the kind of opportunities he couldn't resist. If he hadn’t taken them, he might now be known as plain old ‘Pete’ Saville, Graphic Designer, as opposed to Peter Saville, Creative Director.

CasJune 23rd 2009.

I put the following on another rant but it's the same point : Got a bee in my bonnet over this, so I’ll let it out! Manchester is great, I love Manchester and it irks me that this guy can hold seemingly so much sway in the creative direction of a city he hasn’t lived in whilst I’ve been alive! Yes, he did some great designs but probably rode on the back of the wave that was Factory Records and was one of the fortunate ones to make a bit of money and a career out of it. Surely being creative is about looking forward so why do we pick someone who did their best work decades ago? The title ‘Creative Director’ seems a bit of a contradiction to me. What has been his contribution as Creative Director – a ranter above says he influences people from the inside, do we really need that? If people in London have such an adverse attitude to us that we have to have little words in big ears, then sod them. I just can’t abide the idea of some guy who hopped off to London first chance trying to big us up, it’s all very Beatles and seems incredibly condescending to me. His ‘creative direction’ from London seems a bit Corinthian-esque and we don’t need it. If we’re going to bestow these titles upon folk then let’s pick the right folk and not just the ones we’re all supposed to think are cool

Creative Director SpotterJune 23rd 2009.

Hey spicy, when P. Savile is here, we may well stump up to pay for him to stay at the Radisson - but last Friday night he was spending his dosh (or was it ours?) in the Nags Head on Lloyd Street. Obviously a man of taste. 'Fraid I couldn't engage him in conversation, I had to leave as the karaoke was excruciatingly bad.

DescartesJune 23rd 2009.

east lancs, I actually think Jimmy might do quite well at it, don't give up on him before we give him a chance.

darren ScottJune 23rd 2009.

The city needs a creative/architectural director. Someone responsible for the architectural aesthetics of the city, and control what gets built and where. Not the ****y/flowery/cosmetic stuff that Peter Saville is supposed to be doing, but the serious issue of nuts and bolts planning and building for the future. Everything from street furniture to new buildings, and public spaces. Look what Santiago Calatrava has done for Valancia, and everyone associates Barcelona with Gaudi and recognises the Art Nouveau metro signs in Paris designed by Hector Guimard. Those details are what make those cities historic and iconic. This level of design makes these cities precious and memorable. Not ‘off the shelf’ tat selected by government officials out of a catalogue. How many awful 70’s building are been pulled down now because they were generic and bland. We need to stop building bland generic buildings like the green quarter (awful) and start creating our own distinctive identity for the city. It’s like wearing and £2,000 Armani Suit with a £5 Mickey mouse tie, who notices the expensive well designed suit, NOBODY, they judge you on the tie. We as a city have an increasing amount of Mickey mouse ties. We need to invest in our future, forget Peter Saville, we don’t want a fashionable cosmetic solution, but a long lasting plan to take us into the future. (designing record sleeves does not qualify you to design a city, sorry). Get LORD NORMAN FOSTER to do it. He is Mancunian and a living legend that is more than qualified to make our skyline a public space iconic again. LETS MAKE IT HAPPEN BEFORE WE GET OVER RUN THE MUNDANE!!!

Simon TJune 23rd 2009.

Jimmy has since become a bit of a laughing stock but he was pivotal in bringing great music and good times to Manchester. His lunchtime sessions at the Plaza opened up the generation gap and caused kids to bunk off school, his outlandish haircuts encouraged kids to see a way out of the comformist 1950s, his showmanship at the Ritz and then at Belle Vue brought colour to the city - like a one man Carnaby Street. He was on the frontline in music and fashion for six or seven years in the city before he moved onwards. Peter wasn't so much on the frontline, and would NEVER have been remembered if it wasn't for the people he associated with - Tony Wilson, Rob Gretton, New Order - which, again was unlike Jimmy who was a genuine pioneer and was way ahead and on his own. Peter Savile hasn't lived in Manchester since late 1979 (Factory was less than year old before he moved on!), and you have to wonder how much insight a person can have into the various networks, stories, and complex processes of a city's creative community when they haven't lived in the city for 30 years. OK, he's a very bright chap and his work in the early years of Factory was astonishing, but to me he always seemed like the sexy appointment rather the right one. He doesn't talk with real authority about anything that's happened here in the last 30 years and he's not representing the new and the emerging in the city and he's not really got stuck in and energised has he? Jimmy made a much bigger contribution to Manchester as a music city; if you were writing the biography of Manchester music, Jimmy was like someone who kickstarted our life, tapped into the traditions of non-confomrity and 'flash' in Manchester, and nurtured the rebellion and entertainment value of rock & roll. Peter was like someone popping up with a few friends when you're already well set in life and hanging out with you for a bit. Neither of them should be 'Creative Director', it's a job for someone much closer to the now.

TykeJune 23rd 2009.

So you're saying the Manchester music scene was launched by a Tyke? Not something the city crows about too much! Agree on Jimmy though--wearing the bling and the tracksuits years before rappers, and then changing into the business suits years before rappers did THAT. National treasure. And all tyke

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