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Jillys and Music Box close

Lauren Murphy and Jonathan Schofield get lost then located amidst sad rumours

Written by . Published on April 13th 2010.

Jillys and Music Box close

A Twitter trend has been circling before our eyes. Jilly's Rockworld and the Music Box are closing down. Or rather 'apparently closing down' – as the Twitter world prevaricated.

“I'm just very sad,” he said. “This was Fagins and Rafters and then Jillys and Rockworld. We've entertained thousands of acts, and tens of thousands of music lovers and club-goers.”

The Twitteress through whom this rumour reached Confidential HQ, openly admitted that she had “no official sources”, but nevertheless made a formal announcement on her Twitter page about the apparent closing of the clubs. When asked where she herself heard the rumours, she answered, “Twitter, generally”. She even started one of her tweets with #RIPjillys in the clear hope of kicking off a popular twitter trending topic. All very dubious and sinister.

So, we checked out the relevant sources, at which point the Jilly's plot thickened.

A bold statement on The Music Box website currently declares that, “The Music Box is not closing down in the near future!! Don't believe the silly rumours!” In light of the previous Twitter trending, this seemed an attempt at dismissing the rumours; it seems Twitter is the most powerful tool for spreading information like wildfire. If they had wanted to effectively dismiss such silly rumours, they would perhaps have been better off starting their own Twitter trend, #RIPsillys.

Then we got it chapter and verse.

Twitter is right.

Jilly's and the Music Box have gone into liquidation.

We spoke to the proprietor of the club, John Bagnall. Bagnall is one of the greats of the Manchester music scene having been at the club for a lifetime, almost forty years.

“I'm just very sad,” he said. “This was Fagins and Rafters and then Jillys and Rockworld. We've entertained thousands of acts, and tens of thousands of music lovers and club-goers. We've weathered storms before but not this one which has been deeper and different, with a down turn that for us has lasted three years. The smoking ban has been a real factor too, people get moved on by the police if they smoke on Oxford Street and we have nowhere else to put them.”

“During the eighties Fagans and Rafters gave way to Jillys and Rockworld. Now the rock scene has been dropping for three years and we're just not getting the custom. We can't go on anymore.”

Bagnall is a joy to talk to, and his reminiscences a delight. He remembers the great cabaret years with real affection when comedians Dave Allen and Tommy Cooper graced the venue and singers such as Lulu and Cliff Richard crooned the night away.

Music buffs might recall how a band called Warsaw played the venue in 1977 and returned the following year as Joy Division and were spotted by Anthony H Wilson. Others might recall the raves and all nighters of the eighties and nineties, or later club nights. Confidential remembers One Tree Island with love, whilst Mr Scruff's Keep it Unreal was legend. And let's not forget Electric Chair, which occupied Music Box for eight years - the Unabombers now own the cracking bar Electrik in Chorlton.

One source Confidential talked to, following the news, who didn't wished to be named said, “ It's a tragedy, what's pretty certain is that it won't be a club again.”

Thus dear fellow Mancunians we are left with the Ritz. The bouncy floor beauty is the last remaining thread linking the age of Swing and Big Band, through the Beatles and the Sixties with today's Indie and Dubstep.

Given the Observer/ Guardian newspaper music tour of Manchester in a couple of weeks, perhaps the least its defunct near-neighbour, up the road, deserves is a blue plaque to mark its passing.

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

AgricolaApril 13th 2010.

Sad news. Did they ever play Fleetwood Mac here?

DescartesApril 13th 2010.

Don't Bruntwood own the building? I foresee the same thing as what happened to Elementals - an office refurb that lies empty (and pointless) for years. Surely the site could be used for something glorious once again?

John NuttallApril 13th 2010.

I went there many years ago to see Richard Hell and the Voidoids. I was accompanied by a young A & R scout for EMI Records, he wanted to see the support act, a local unsigned band called The Smiths. EMI resisted his protracted pleas to sign them and eventually fired him. Later, of course, they signed the band (after they became famous) and sent him a letter of apology but not a job offer. Not really surprising then that EMI continues to lose money at an alarming rate (well, if you're Guy Hands it must be pretty alarming).

Simon McDonaldApril 13th 2010.

Fucksake... <_<

eva12532April 13th 2010.

gutted i had some great nights there

crazyjohnApril 13th 2010.

I loved Elementals, some class afterparties there

Bill Sykes's BullseyeApril 13th 2010.

I was born in 1977, but distinctly remember being fascinated by the Fagan's sign as a young kid passing on the 42. Did it still exist some years after the club changed name, or did Fagan's survive a few years later than the article suggests?

WildNitroApril 13th 2010.

Perhaps if Rockworld didn't stick to the formula of being 'A Dive', then it would have more business. That, and DJ Chris spoiling my last few times there... Sorry to see the place go but you can't run a club on the reputation of the past. No live bands, lack of decently priced drinks, aggro and nastiness from DJs... not a way to keep your crowd.

Stuart HargreavesApril 14th 2010.

Fagans was definitely going well into the 1980's. I saw Chubby Brown there around 1985. EDITORIAL: we've checked again and changed that sentence

FionaApril 14th 2010.

Electric Chair nights there were dizzy. Great moments

RumpelstiltskinApril 14th 2010.

It's weird that I'm so sad about this. I haven't been to Jilly's for about 5 years however the memories will alway remain. Coming from one of the smaller conurbations outside of Manchester, my college weeks generally ended with an all nighter at Rockworld on a Friday, getting the X43 back on the Saturday morning. The best experience however was the discovery of Mr Scruff and my signed LP of his scribblings now seen all over teacup in TNQ.
Really sad that there are no more new moshers to take the helm and take over what a lot of us grew out of......

Wendy HollowayApril 14th 2010.

i have been a Jilly regular for over 20yrs,there are lots of posts on the Jillys page on Facebook from the angry and distraught regulars. we where all shocked at the news yesterday, no one new about the closure, luckily me and my friends where there for the, unbeknowns, last night. A very reliable source has indicated that Jillys is going to be a Tesco Metro!!

AnonymousApril 14th 2010.

'there are lots of posts on the Jillys page on Facebook from the angry and distraught regulars'

Maybe if the 'regulars' had gone more often it wouldn't be closing.

Simon TApril 14th 2010.

Many great nights in there, all in the last century though. Definitely lost its way recently. The key moment in the Warsaw/Joy Division story was when Rob Gretton (who was a DJ at Rafters) spotted Warsaw there, and then became their manager. I know we all pretend everything is down to Tony Wilson, but let's give Gretton some due.

GooseApril 14th 2010.

Gutted. The place was an institution. Sadly it relied too much on that. I really don't think it's a case of rock being less popular - there are more rock nights than ever in Manchester (Kitchen/Asylum/various stuff at the Phoenix), but Rockworld never seemed to make any effort to compete. Just relied on being Rockworld. When I was a student Thursday nights were packed in there. Went in last year and there were maybe 30 people. I'll miss it though, even though I hardly went.

NortherngeezerApril 14th 2010.

Ahhhhhh, memories.

JenniferApril 15th 2010.

End of an era. Just wanted to point out though, that the Music Box predecessor was Fagins, not Fagans. My dad used to work there back in the 80s.

AnonymousApril 15th 2010.

Thank god we've got a council leader with vision who can come up with plans to help this city retain its heritage, against the odds, and works to have our great past have a foothold in the future of the city. It'd be terrible if the guy in charge encouraged the selling off of cultural institutions by having no regard other than the immediate financial flash of cash....

Siobhan SamuelsApril 18th 2010.

RIP Rockworld my beautiful dirty freaky friend and i say that with the most sincere of hearts. , I will miss you dearly. Rock world has seen me thru my teens and 20's, and i am devastated at the sad news. Snogged many a pretty boy in there and a few frogs ha ha.... Have to agree with WILDNITRO on chris the DJ comment, he was such a twat at times. Gonna miss my pissed up convo's with the lovely toilet attendant, she had the patience of a saint. Love you ROCKWORLD coz you always loved me, and you've seen me at my worst, ripped tights smudged eyeliner down to my chin you never judged me xxxxxxx

Samantha17200April 25th 2010.

The rock community was certainly alive and kicking last night at Satan's Hollow for the Jillys Farewell party...


The 'Twitteress'December 29th 2010.

You never did give me credit for my 'dubious and sinister' rumour starting ways ;)

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