Being Young in Bradford: Gary

This is another in a series of blogs linked to the forth-coming ‘Being Young in Bradford’ exhibition, that will be held at Cartwright Hall.

Gary, who wrote this blog, is working alongside Jill,  one of our Community Curators and 5 others to create the exhibition together.   They hope to present an evocative idea of what Being Young in Bradford meant to them.

B&W image of a young man, dark jeans, light coloured jacket sat in chair reading. Various images pinned to wall behind him including an calendar dated August 1983
Gary, reading a newspaper in 1983 (at least according to the Calendar!)

Growing up in the 70s
As a youth growing up in Bradford, I was a normal lad living through the Miner’s Strike, the three-day week, writing by candlelight, in a sort of black and white Cold War world. In 1973 I started work and also began my life-long love affair with music. A wage packet meant a new LP record each week. My first taste of a live gig was the same year for 50p at St. Georges Hall seeing blues-rock band Savoy Brown support Status Quo. I found live music so thrilling.
The next ten gigs I attended included Hawkwind, Black Sabbath, Focus, Argent, Mott the Hoople, Alex Harvey Band, The Strawbs, Golden Earing supported by Lynyrd Skynyrd and German techno-synth band Tangerine Dream – quite an introduction to the UK live music scene for a young lad in the mid-1970s! It was an era when major bands still played Bradford on a regular basis.

4th Idea
After a stint on the buses as a conductor, I joined the staff of 4th Idea Bookshop in late 1979, as a volunteer member. Based at 14 Southgate, it was a collectively run radical/alternative bookshop which was also a meeting place for local activist/pressure groups who used the premises as a contact address. I had a Labour/Socialist background and was Anti-Racist having grown up with Asian and Black friends. Working at 4th Idea helped to radicalize my awakening political view of the world as I educated myself with the wealth of material available

Shortly after I was among a group of local activists who formed the Bradford branch of the Claimant’s Union (CU). While working at 4th Idea I’d also befriended a motley group of punks who were members of punk bands Living Dead and Chronic. They appeared most Saturdays at the shop sitting upstairs playing their latest 7 inch singles and drinking tea.

With these contacts I organised and put on my first gig – a benefit for 4th Idea at Bradford University’s Communal building featuring Violation, Chronic, New Model Army, Living Dead, Requiem, Boys From The East and poets Joolz, Little Brother and Big Dave Bob in March 1981.

Birth of the 1 in 12 Club
Following the success of the University gig, and some previous benefit gigs, it was decided by the members of the CU to start our own Club. The 1 in 12 Club started weekly Wednesday night gigs on 29 April 1981 at the Metropole Hotel on Grattan Road. In an atmosphere of mutual aid and self-management, it was collectively volunteer run, with a strict no racist / sexist / homophobic policy.

Within a few weeks the 1 in 12 had attracted many new people and had extended the list of local bands and poets to Leeds, Huddersfield and Manchester. From these small beginnings, the Club expanded and gained a national and international persona during the rest of the 1980s. It moved from venue to venue and organised umpteen gigs, dozens of benefit gigs, three free festivals, a regular Fanzine (KDIS), three vinyl LP compilation records, a dozen live reviews in the National Music Press (N.M.E/Sounds) as well as a membership of over 1,000 people.

A government grant enabled the Club to buy a building at 21-23 Albion Street which it’s members renovated and opened as a permanent venue in April 1988 where it continues today. Over the years the 1 in 12 has developed an international underground reputation with bands from all over Europe, USA and Japan playing.

It is more than a simple venue though, it is a social centre that allows its membership to develop and be active in local community and national/international activities and campaigns. The Club runs various member-led autonomous collectives so there are groups of people who, for example, book bands; record and produce CD’s of bands who play there; run the café; take care of building maintenance; put on drama performances; look after the library; coordinate the football team – and more!

Over the years, as the ebb and flow of new to old member’s changes, we’ve a generational aspect, as well as growing a new generation of Bradfordians who continue to get involved and are proud of the Club’s longstanding heritage and the work it has done fighting injustices.

Being Young in Bradford Playlist

Gary also took the time to give us a list of some of the songs he enjoys

You can find his selection via the spotify playlist below.

(Due to the nature of some of the songs, there may be some explicit lyrics)

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