AbstractIn the 1970s, Northern Soul held a pivotal position in British youth culture. It originated in the English north west and midlands in the late-1960s, and by 1976, it was attracting thousands of enthusiasts across the country. They flocked to hundreds of venues where ‘rare soul’ records, by predominantly black performers recorded mostly between 1964-68, were spun by ‘disc jockeys’ (DJs) who became legends of the scene. For much of the 1970s Northern Soul was largely ignored by the national music press and found little space in the wider media. The lack of awareness and marginalisation of Northern Soul in the lexicon of youth culture and popular music was linked to three inter-related factors. First, the scene predominated outside of London and was most prominent at the margins of cities and towns of the midlands (Wolverhampton, Stoke-On-Trent) and the north west (Wigan, Blackpool). Secondly, it was a retrospective scene that was steeped in nostalgia, locality and an identity that could not easily be absorbed by other music scenes and related youth subcultures. Thirdly, Northern Soul was largely a working class scene, which did not produce influential intellectuals and commentators that would proselytise on its behalf in newspapers, magazines and television shows. In popular characterisations of post-war youth culture and popular music there is an orthodox chronology that stretches from Teddy Boys/Rock ‘n’ Roll in the 1950s, the Mods and Rockers and the counter-culture/hippy scene of the 1960s and on to punk rock in the 1970s. Yet in 1976/77 the ground zero for punk rock, Northern Soul was arguably far bigger in terms of the number of specialist venues, participants, and organisations that gave the scene a distinct identity
CitationCaterall, S. and Gildart, K. (2020) Keeping the faith: A history of northern soul. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
PublisherManchester University Press
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