When the club opened in 1958, Bernard recruited two of his old mates from the Cromford Club (now deeply buried beneath the Arndale Centre), Dave Green (Piano) and Frank Hogan (Bass) as his club band. I don’t know the name of the first drummer but for a short while around 1960, the Dave Green Trio became a quartet with the addition of a young Crumpsall guitarist called Mike Harding. Like many people with Embassy Club connections, Mike would find fame as a multi instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, comedian and latterly the presenter of BBC Radio 2s regular folk music programme.
In the late 60s, Kenny Curran joined on drums and despite some of the more outlandish “uniforms” that Bernard would inflict upon them over the years, Kenny, Dave and Frank would continue to work together until 1987 when Frank passed away suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 56.
During that 29 years, many people who went on to become household names played the Embassy Club. Gerry Dorsey (a.k.a Englebert Humperdinck), Freddie Starr, Mike Yarwood, almost all of the guys who made up “The Comedians”, Joe Longthorne, The Grumbleweeds, Frank Ifield, Russ Abbott (who bought a fez from me for two bob so he could introduce a Tommy Cooper impression into his act), Little and Large. Cannon and Ball who were at that time the Harper Brothers, Liz Dawn and Lynne Perry and many, many others. I particularly remember my dad coming home one day and telling me about a young magician who had a very clever and funny act and who one day would make the big time.
He was right, that young man’s name was Paul Daniels.
In 1983, as part of the club’s 25 year celebrations, a video “Bernard Manning Ungagged” was released and a radio documentary “A Night At The Embassy” was broadcast on Piccadilly Radio (now Key 103). The programme not only featured Bernard’s view of events but also those of Dave and Frank who had a chance to let loose with some rather tall tales. I suspect JW Lees’ had a hand in those proceedings.
To celebrate what would have been Frank’s 80th birthday, I edited some of the bits of Bernard’s act ragging my dad about his “reputation” and also an excerpt of the radio interview and placed them on youtube.
Just heard about your site today from Bobby Denver. Wish I'd known before now.
I was around in the late 50s & 60s, working the wonderful cabaret clubs of Manchester including Manning's place, which I grew to love better than anywhere I worked throughout Europe & later further afield.
If you worked the College Theatre Club, you doubled with a pub in Rochdale called the Gay Gordons (when gay meant something different than today) & on the same plot of land was the LUXOR club, owned by Ginger Chilton and you doubled with the Station Hotel, Pendlebury.
In fact you doubled with a pub whenever you worked a nightclub.
I remember working quite a lot with a duo called Sid & Eddy (Little and Large).
Coming from Sunderland, Manchester/Liverpool was like another world. Being a solo singer it was the most exciting time of my life. Good luck with your site.
My friend and I came from the U.S. and lived in Middleton late 66 to summer 67. I worked a few places in Manchester with a Temp agency. We went to Roundtrees, Mr. Smiths but every weekend we went to the Embasy Club.
Got to know Mr. Manning fairly well. When we came through the door he would say the "Gangsters" are here.
Mr Smiths had a moving dance floor and seats like mushrooms. We also went to the Palladium and other clubs.
I was also there the summer of 69 and won a funky chicken contest on the first stage on left as you come in the door. We got free bottle of wine for my table.
I was then 20 and 21. Had the time of my life!!
Creeme Entertainments booked me to appear at the Embassy Club time after time for well over a decade, right up until Bernard ceased his weekly shows there with the Dave Green Trio. (Dave G: keyboards, Brian: electric bass, Judd or Clive : drums).
I must have played it over 500 times. I wish I'd kept the date sheets now, because it sounds like a exaggeration, but it isn't, for what it's worth it's actually a deliberate under-estimate.
It was the easiest job I ever had , too, because Bernard would do his hour, then there would be a short interval of disco, and then Bernard would bring me on to do my bit. The strict instruction was, “no matter what time you go on, son, (he always called everyone son) you come off at half nine”. Well I often only went on at ten past, quarter past, even as late as twenty past nine . Three or four short rock and roll songs, then my guitar instrumental finale Hava Nagila at full throttle, then off. For full money!
Most times there was a really good atmosphere in the club and Hava Nagila regularly used to get the audience banging loudly on the tables as it sped up . Eventually Bernard said to me “Stop doing that one son, - its causing mayhem “ So I dropped it with an “OK, you're the boss, Bernard”. About four weeks later he asked me ” Why don't you do that Hava Nagila anymore? ” I said he'd told me not to. ”Oh you must do it son, it's great. Start with it!”. He was like that!
He always had three support acts, with usually a girl singer in the middle spot.
He'd introduce the girl, then sneak out of the club, with a dressing room routine that never deviated, in which Sharkey, his minder, would say to him “Your car alarm's going off Bernard”, and to which Bernard would reply “Thanks son, I'll come and sort it”. With that he'd leave. The intention was that no one inside the club would realise he'd gone. Sometimes they would undertake this ritual in earshot of me solely, and of course I was already in the know. But they always did it, anyhow.
Don't think I ever saw any real trouble in there, either, Sharkey and his boys kept things in perspective.
That said, a woman did jump up on stage when I was on one night and grabbed the mic and stand and threw them off the stage. Don't think she thought I was much good. She was gently persuaded out of the room. Naturally that had to happen when I had visiting friends in from America. Obviously! (Maybe my friends were a jinx!) But I played it cool, as though that sort of thing happens all the time to entertainers. Normal behavior in this country y'know. Sort of, almost a kind of mark of respect for an artist.
And how did I find Bernard?
Offstage, I chatted with him many times, I found him to be a really nice guy, no edge, no stardom . Always polite and respectful to me. He had a big heart, he was a total softy. Also he was a clever guy. He was absolutely down to earth, and you could chat to him about anything, really. He'd been around, and was genuinely interested in and knowledgeable on many subjects.
Onstage, he was the best stand up comedian I've ever seen.
He had a comically inventive mind, and he always made me laugh, even after multiple hearings of a gag. (maybe that's why I got the repeat gig).
I look back upon my Embassy days with fondness - they were great times, with so many laughs.
Images courtesy Dave Peters
The show BERNARD MANNING...."BACK FROM THE BRINK" Is simply AMAZING ! !
Starring comedian RICKY LANE this show was conceived and produced by ROBERT YOUNG, and is based on the legendary BERNARD MANNING'S theatre show.
Bernard toured the theatres with support act, the incredibly talented singer and comedienne JANICE YORKE for 15 years, and we are also proud to present Janice once more in this brand new show. "BACK FROM THE BRINK" premiered recently at the world famous Bernard Manning's EMBASSY CLUB in Manchester to a packed house of long standing Bernard fans plus the Manning family and the reaction was "WOW"....a standing ovation was enjoyed by Ricky.
Bernard's son BERNARD MANNING JR said
"I just could not believe my eyes and ears...I really though my Dad had walked out on that stage".... This is the tribute show to end them all !!
Bring back the good times to your venue, and GUARANTEE a fantastic night of comedy and song that will leave your customers shouting for more ! !
I recall apearing at the Embassy Club on many
occation and remember a time when I was on a treble - The Lively Lobster in Sale, the Great Western, Moss Side and finishing at the Embassy Club. I had in my possesion a printed schedule from I
think John Sharp, the agent.
After rushing around like a meerkat on speed I
managed to get to the last gig at twenty past ten
for my half past spot. Bernard was on stage and when he spotted me stated slagging me off as I was lugging my amp and guitar up the aisle.
Tthis didn't faze me as it was par for the course with Bernard but when he came into the dressing room he ripped into me with all guns blazing saying I should have been on
stage at half past nine. He was still raging when I
pulled my schedule out of my pocket as he scanned the sheet he said "Fucking agents, I am so sorry".
After my spot he beckoned me over to the bar where he had bought me a pint and continued to apologise and I continued to appear there later.
I never held it against him and admired the tight ship that made his club such a success apart from the fact that he was a great comedian.
I worked The "Embassy" 3-4 times a year through "Creeme Ents". I always looked forward to it. Bernard always made me very welcome, every time i'd walked into the dressing room he would say..."Hello Tony, how are doing son? You're looking well."
Then before he introduced me on stage, he would say...."Now folks..Here's a young man who had the misfortune of having his guitar stolen last week, Unfortunately some bastard has brought it back." Then I would go on & do my 20 mins.
I had great respect for Bernard, Sadly missed...R.I.P Bernard.
I was born and lived in Harpurhey in my early years - in a back to back street just up from Bernard Manning's Embassy Club. I did go to that club in late sixties where Mr Manning would start his act with .." when you walk in this club you go down 3 steps .. physically and socially ..."
PS - to all - Well done Paul for your efforts with this site - I do hope it will both entertain and educate many in years to come.
I was sorting through a box of old photos yesterday and happened upon this one from the Embassy in it. I would guess it’s the early 60s. It shows my Dad (Frank Hogan) on the bass and I think it was Kenny Curran on the drums (see below). Judging by the list of worthies behind them, Freddie and The Dreamers hadn’t yet played the club because Bernard would have capitalised on that. I have done a little restoration work to get rid of bumps, scratches and creases.
All the best
Re the article by John Hogan. Ken Curran was the regular drummer from the middle 60's at the Embassy - but this pic isn't him. I don't know who it is, but it deffo isn't him. Ken was in a group, Danny and the Dominator's prior to becoming resident at the Embassy and this pic looks like the early sixties.
William (Bill) Sullivan
Hi there I am Kenny Curran's son, and thepic above is definitely not him. He sadly passed away in Aug 2009. I remember going to the Embassy as a young lad ( 13 or 14 I think ! ) particularly on Sunday nights when after the band call, Dave Green, Frank Hogan and my dad would nip off to the Golden Tavern for a few beers before the show. I spent many hours listening to tales from them all and can still hear them all ( particularly Frank) howling laughing at stuff. That trio could back anybody that came with their eyes shut. I came across an old photo from 1978 which I have attached.
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Message for Michael Pritchard -- Hi I knew your Dad Kenny Curran at Moston Lane Primary School he was my best pal and an amazing guy - he went onto North Manchester grammer School at 11 and we lost touch until about 1962 when I saw him playing drums at Th Domino Club with "Danny and the Dominators" He was so proud that they had recently been playing clubs in Hamburg -- Michael you had an AMZING dad - sorry to hear he has gone
The "unknown" drummer on John Hogan's photograph looks like (can't say if it is, ask him!) Brian Higham! I did the Embassy many times with different groups. I went in one night as a soloist and Bernard said "You've been in some ******* groups you have!"
Early '73 and I'm working out at a gym above a men's outfitters on Market Street, Manchester. Doing curls with dumbbells the size of a small car is a chiseled guy about 6 foot, with a shaved head, muscles you could probably bounce large rocks off and a demeanor that says, "Yes, I am the last person in the world you wanna #### with." Think Jason Stathem, but a lot more convincing. His name turns out to be Alan Salt, he's the pleasantest guy you could wish to meet and he's the front-desk security at Bernard Manning's joint. I wangle an invitation and take four buddies from work (the Manchester Evening News; boozers all). Alan introduces us to the boss before the show and it's instant lunacy. He skewers us during his act; I've never laughed so hard before or since; my ribs ache for about three days afterwards. A magic evening ...
Hi, This message is to Kenny Currans Son. I knew your dad in the 60s used to help him carry his drum kit around when he played with Danny and the Dominators. Great guy also when I lived in Cleveleys used to see him in one of the clubs there. Good old days. Regards Stuart Foster.x
we used to play the Embassy regularly in the 60s and 70s. One night one of us got caught short just before we were due to go on,and started relieving himself in the sink, on which Bernard came in and said some dirty bxxxxxxd washed there hands in there last week, he was so funny.