In the beginning…

The legend runs that originally The Blue Note Club was owned by Alex Fogel and was a drinking den and gambling joint in the late fifties and early sixties. The drinks licence was lost to no one’s surprise and Alex’s daughter, the robust and formidable Debbie decided to reopen it as a soul club after stealing the Twisted Wheel’s veteran DJ, Roger Eagle by the simple device of
paying him more money. Debbie managed to get the drinks licence back before emigrating to Australia with Mike the bouncer.

Debbie deserves her own biography but this is all we’ve got at the present. I remember two incidents with Debbie. One was when she asked me to take off my fedora (Elliot Ness was big among mods at the time but we had no conception of when wearing a hat was appropriate, ie,
never!) and the other was when I decided to talk to her at the same time as drinking a pint of Guinness. Needless to say, the Guinness left a nasty stain on my Tonik mohair (biscuit was the colour) which never left it.
John Fogel then took over the family business as well as doing his day job as a loss adjuster. This man was the last word in cool at the time.In fact, the Bluenote Club was the coolest club in Manchester for a fairly brief period. Johnny’s French girlfriend Vivienne (how cool was that?) basically ran the show with Johnny mainly walking about in his cool white suit, smoking black Russian cigarettes and talking in a Mockney accent. For the car enthusiasts among you, Johnnie drove a metallic oyster Ford Corsair two litre GT, followed by a metallic blue Alvis which fitted with his cool image. My own small part in the story centres around the fact that I used to print the membership cards and so never had to pay admission. To be honest, I don’t think I was the only one.

The club also became the headquarters of another John Fogel’s business ventures, Balfodem Management group which looked after such luminaries as The Famous Watson Browne Band and the singer Leicester Montrose. The other partners were Nicky Balcombe and the infamous Pat Dempsey (ex Ivan’s Meads)  who allegedly ran off with the company’s money, as well as the DJ’s girlfriend (sorry Dave).

Bob Cummings

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