Manchester District Music Archive's brand new online exhibition: City Fun - The Hidden History of Manchester's Post-Punk Fanzines goes live today. The fanzine was published between 1978 and 1984 and is a remarkable eye-witness account of one of the most fertile periods in Manchester’s music history; in its pages you get the unfolding insider story of the rise of Joy Division, the death of Ian Curtis, the beginnings of the Smiths, and the launch of the Hacienda plus a unique insight into the city’s independent labels, long-lost venues and half-forgotten bands.
‘City Fun’ was one of many fanzines of the era; home-made, and cheaply but passionately produced magazines aimed at lovers of non-mainstream music, and sold by hand at gigs and in record shops.
In addition to writing and gossiping about local bands, ‘City Fun’ covered films, politics, and all kinds of local goings on, and developed something of an obsession with Chief Constable James Anderton who is the subject of several ‘City Fun’ diatribes.
Many contributors have since found fame, among them artist Linder Sterling (who designed the cover of issue 8); her work now hangs in the Tate and although most of the writing is uncredited, researchers working on this new online archive have established that an article about Sandie Shaw by “Burt Macho” was a contribution by none other than Morrissey.
Dave Haslam is one of the prime movers behind the archiving of ‘City Fun’; “Morrissey was a reader and a fan of ‘City Fun’ but he chose to write in the fanzine under the pseudonym Burt Macho. It was just as the Smiths were taking off; the same issue carries an advert for the first Smiths single. John Peel said it was most important fanzine of its time, and certainly nothing will give you greater insight into the ideas and history of post-punk Manchester. It’s all in ‘City Fun’.”
MDMA’s project manager Abigail Ward was tasked with tracking down old copies of the fanzine; “We asked our friends and contacts to check if they had any copies of ‘City Fun’ hidden away in dusty shoeboxes in the attic. The response was fantastic - testament to how affectionately remembered the fanzine is. We have now digitised and uploaded every single copy and the online exhibition contains hi-res versions of every page. We hope our members will add more zines from the post-punk era and that the exhibition will expand over time as our main site has.”
The ‘City Fun’ online exhibition is part of Manchester Histories Festival's ongoing celebration and investigation of Manchester's fanzines. Festival Director Claire Turner; “This online exhibition creates a permanent record of an era of alternative music in Manchester that’s now become internationally famous. The archive is a source of information to historians and a source of inspiration for subsequent generations.” The wider fanzines project was funded by Arts Council England.
The online exhibition of the ‘City Fun’ archive can be found here;