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Johnny Roadhouse Senior 1921-2009

Gary Cooper
Johnny Roadhouse Senior 1921-2009

Johnny Roadhouse, a leading figure in Manchester's music scene for many decades and the City's most prominent music retailer, has died, aged 88.

Roadhouse, despite his long association with Manchester, was actually born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, but moved to Manchester's Moss Side, as a child.  Given a saxophone by his father, he taught himself to play and during the Second World War, developed a thriving evening career in local dance bands. In 1946, he turned professional and in 1948 became leader of the saxophone section of the BBC Northern Variety Orchestra - later, the renowned BBC Northern Dance Orchestra, with which he remained associated until the 1980s. Unusually, for a self-taught dance band musician, Roadhouse also went on to play with both the Hallé Orchestra under Sir John Barbirolli,  and the Liverpool Philharmonic. He also toured extensively, travelling much of the world during his career.

Roadhouse opened his famous music shop in Manchester's Oxford Road, where it remains today,  in 1955 and it rapidly became a focal point of the City's thriving music scene. Famously, Les Dawson used to meet his agent there and it became the favourite haunt of generations of musicians, lately as diverse as the Happy Mondays, the Smiths and Oasis - the latter of whom paid the shop a tribute in one of their promotional videos.

Cheerfully chaotic in its early days, when asked to describe the shop, Ray Moore, the BBC announcer, described it as looking 'like a drained canal'.  The shop is run today by Roadhouse's son, also called John, and remains a vital part of the local music community.

A token of the esteem in which he was held and the importance of Roadhouse's career was that obituaries appeared beyond the confines of the local and music media, including on BBC Radio Four and in the Daily Telegraph.

Johnny Roadhouse was married twice and had four children. Following his second marriage, he lived for the last 20 years with his partner, Ann Cowan.

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