Johnny Roadhouse - Oxford Rd, All Saints

JR's may not have been the best or trendiest music shop but it goes down in history as the longest lasting - possibly having done more for the music scene in Manchester than any other store. 

Not that it always intended to but if the stories are to be believed it was a constant source of "cheap" gear in the early sixties.


"I was in a band when I was about 15, can't remember the name but it was the first time I was in a band with a Sax. The bass player was a guy called Freddy D. He looked a bit like a white Sammy Davis jnr. He ordered a Fender Precision Bass and Vox AC30 Bass from Johnny Roadhouse.

They rang him to say the kit had arrived and he went in on Xmas eve to pick it up. As you will no doubt remember in those days everything was on HP. He asked where he had to sign, but they were that "pissed" they told him to come back after Christmas and fill the HP forms out. Obviously he didn't and they must have been that arseholed they forgot and he got the gear for free."

"Most Saturday's there was a freebie session, when gear appeared out the back of the shop into a waiting J2. I presume that cash did change hands but am sure it rarely went into the till. Sadly, I only heard about it after the shop closed"

Despite that, JR's is still around and still part of the Manchester music scene.

How many musos owe their fame and/or life long interest to this shop?

I wrote the above some 14 years ago, when the site started. Seems I am not the only one who thinks the same way. 


Music Legend, Johnny Roadhouse is recognised for his contribution to Manchester's entertainment industry

Johnny Roadhouse, a name familiar to generations of music-loving Mancunians, is to be honoured by the Lord Mayor of Manchester for his contribution to the worlds of music and entertainment in the city.

The Lord Mayor, Councillor Mohammed Afzal Khan, will present Johnny with a Manchester Lifetime Achievement Award in honour of his service to the city on Thursday July 14 at a special afternoon tea reception in the Lord Mayor's Apartments.

In the words of his close friend Stephen Garner, a producer of BBC Radio Entertainment: "Johnny is 84 years of age, still playing saxophone and working in his shop. Performing for everyone from wartime audiences to Royal Command performances, Johnny Roadhouse has been involved with music for 65 years, where he has played at various venues to lift people's spirits during the Second World War. He was a founder member of the BBC Northern Variety Orchestra and BBC Northern Dance Orchestra and played a major role in the history of television and radio entertainment in Manchester."

Johnny Roadhouse has also played with some of the greatest bands and orchestras in the world and has backed artists including the late Bob Hope and Sir Elton John.

He has run the music shop on Oxford Road for more than half a century, remaining loyal to the area. He has played a major role in musical education as well as supporting amateur musicians.

Family and friends, including some well-known faces from the entertainment industry will join Johnny to celebrate his success on Thursday afternoon, when he will share memories and receive his award from the Lord Mayor.

"It is an honour to present this award to a man who has achieved so much and who continues to play a vital role in our great city," said the Lord Mayor.

"Johnny's dedication to music is well acknowledged not only in the community, but in the entertainment industry and his relentless enthusiasm has to be admired. I can only congratulate him and hope that this award shows our gratitude and recognition of his achievement."

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"I remember as Bobby and the Blue Diamonds, going into Johnny Roadhouses on many occasions on Saturday and Mr X (name removed to protect the innocent!) would lend us gear for gigs, usually a tvm as I recall. It was about twenty watts. We had to have it back Monday before Johnny got in. It was a close shave on many occasions. Thanks a lot Mr X.

I think that most bands are in debt to Johnny Roadhouse for turning a blind eye and I thank all concerned. I went on to join several bands, including The Mixture and Savoury Duck. I still do some recording.

Best of luck, in the words of my pal Pete Maclaine "KEEP ROCKIN"

Bob Harrison

Just a touch of trivia maybe but in 1957/58 I and a friend went to Mr Roadhouses shop to make an advert for T.V. It was for Ozone bleach, of course Mr Roadhouse accompanied us both on the piano and it was shown several times. It was a very memorable experience of which I will never forget. It also led to me having singing lessons with Mr Roadhouse and the odd baby sitting job for him.

Eileen Clarke nee Dickinson

You've obviously been mailed about the sad news of Johnny Roadhouse passing away on Saturday 11/04/09.  Almost full page tribute in tonight's edition of the Manchester Evening News. Apparently he was 88 years of age and died in his sleep at Manchester Royal Infirmary following a short illness.

Sad news for all us musos.

I bought my 8 piece Ludwig rocker kit off him 20 years ago. It's still in the spare bedroom and is dusted off periodically for a bit of a thrashing to get rid of lifes' stresses and bring back happy memories and thoughts of what could have been in those halcyon years of the '60s.
Can't take our memories away can they, pal ?

Dave Anderton - 12/4/09

At some time in the late fifties or early sixties John Mayall had a small record business in the room above the JR Emporium. Here he used to sell quite rare blues albums that he used import from the States. He would bring them in, copy them on to tape for himself and then sell them in the shop.  Sadly I could never afford to buy any of them but I do have a few records, mostly 78s, that he sold while he was still at the Art School, just across All Saint's Park from Mr. Roadhouse. A man with an eye for business is Mr. Mayall.

When I moved down here to the Cotswolds and started gigging, several people, when they found that I came from Manchester, asked me if I knew Johnny Roadhouse. That's how famous he was. Or is the word infamous?

Pete Crooks - 5/6/09

I used to go from home into Manchester on Saturdays with a friend to shop and walk down Oxford Street to gorp in music shop windows. One evening we noticed that Johnny's shop was still open as he and his partner was cashing up his till. He said that we should go upstairs, plug in anything we liked. I came down with a Framus Star bass and asked about it. Next week I returned with my Colorama and asked if he would part/ex it. 

Johnny looked my up and down, asked what school I went to (Central Grammar) and took out a 'Rent Book'. He told me to leave the guitar, take the bass and just come back when I had some money and bring the book in until paid off!

I worked with Johnny on occasions and reminded him of this - sadly others, offered the same deal, did not pay off their arrangement. A truly great man.

Alan Jackson - 3/4/10

While managing the Pecussion Centre I was having lunch with Barratt`s manager and he told me he used to manage Johnny`s shop. I asked why he left.

He said the last straw was when,before he finished one Saturday, he spent a couple of hours cleaning the shop, leaving it "Like a new pin". Coming in on Monday morning he was pleased to find Johnny had put a motor car engine "very oily" on the counter.

Syd - 27/4/10

I (or rather my dad!) bought my first electric guitar from JR's shop. It was a Rosetti Solid 7, the single cutaway version. My pal had the double cutaway version but they didn't have one in stock when I went. Some weeks earlier I went in with my father to look around. Johnny's brother Bill was managing the shop. He pointed to some sheet music and said I could have any guitar in the shop if I could read it. Of course I couldn't.

Just then (must have been around 1960/1 and solid guitars were not as common then) a sales rep came in and asked if Bill needed any "planks"! My father thereafter always referred to my guitars as planks!

Bob Ainsworth - 25/10/10

Does anyone remember there being a recording studio at the shop? I used to go up the stairs for jam sessions on Saturdays, and I'm sure I passed a studio door on my way up.

Bernard Morris - 28/2/12

I recall going to Johnny Roadhouse's shop, sittuated about hundred yards or so past the BBC on Oxford Rd.

At first glance it looked like a junk shop - this would be early sixties when it appeares that Johnny himself was a well known and well respected musician who played either sax or trumpet. I am sure somebody will correct me in this.

Anyway it transpires that he had recording facilities. Tthis was in the days when my ego was much bigger than my talent, any way the upshot was I booked myself in for a recording session and as I walked into the shop he asked me where my backing group was. At the time I didn't have one. I didn't even bring an ampliflier! I intended to make a record for a girlfriend of the time and sat there with an acoustic guitar and played the theme from Juke Box Jury [was it called Walk Don'r Run?)

Any way when it was finished he gave me a ball of black wool and said this is you in reverse. I just felt that Johnny's shop warrented a mention.

Al Richie - 23/3/12

I got my first electric guitar from Johnny Roadhouse around 1960. It was a Rossetti Lucky seven single cutaway. Clearly a bad copy of a Gibson. I can recognize that now. It seemed to be made of tea chest plywood.

My contribution to this story is that it was Johnny Roadhouse senior that sold me the guitar. And the Futurama I got a couple of years later.

I haven't seen any mention of him here. Johnny junior was there, of course. A strange shop but definitely worth going to.

Robert Farnley - 16/2/13

I bought my 1964 Fender Telecaster from Johnny Roadhouses in 1971 At that time it was more of a secondhand/junk shop with just a few instruments. Still got my Tele. Cost me £80. Worth a tad more now!

Brian Brittain - 30/1/2016

I worked at Jim Reno's just down the road. I first met Nidge from the Factotums when he worked there. Whenever anyone came in and said they had had gear nicked, Jim would send them straight to Roadhouses !

William G Danson - 9/7/2017




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