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m people - manchester people
M People - Heather Small
"Clubs were still very much thugs in ties, and scallies were not allowed in. I was a scally really and so the one thing I didn't want was a dress policy. So it became a meeting place, and what I suspected was that if those people had a meeting place they would be creative. And it worked. Because nearly all those bands, from the Roses through, all came from that Friday night.' - Mike Pickering on his Friday night talent shows at The Haçienda
click here to read our exclusive Heather Small interview.

M People were 'created' in 1991 by ex-Haçienda DJ, Mike Pickering and soon became the World's best dance act of the 1990's.

The Chorlton-cum-Hardy DJ had previously worked as an A&R man for Factory Records and was credited for shaping the success of The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and James with his Friday night talent shows at the Haç. In fact his contribution to Madchester earned him the title, 'The Godfather Of House'. In forming M People ('Mike's People'), he also provided success for three other talented musicians in Londoner's Paul Heard, Andrew Lovell (better known as 'Shovell'), and the brilliant vocalist Heather Small.

The distinctive voice of Heather, ex-wife of England Rugby League star Shaun Edwards, immediately won M People critical acclaim. It was therefore no surprise that their debut single "Colour My Life", was a hit in 1991 (and also on its re-release in 1992).

northern soul

M People's first album, "Northern Soul", was named after the legendary Mancunian style of music that found fame in the Wigan Casino which was often visited by Mike. "I'm an old Northern Soul boy and I always thought that the Northern House scene was the modern equivalent of the old Northern Soul scene", he was later quoted as saying. The album was re-released in 1992 with an amended track listing to include their second single, "How Can I Love You More", which was a huge hit and introduced M People to a mass audience.

M People's 1993 follow-up album, "Elegant Slumming", spawned the massive hits "Moving on Up", "One Night In Heaven" and the cover of Dennis Edwards' "Don't Look Any Further".

Amazingly, M People's 1994 "Bizarre Fruit" album stayed on the UK-chart for two and a half years, producing the smash hits "Sight For Sore Eyes", "Open Your Heart", and the brilliant "Search For A Hero" (which was also used in Peugeot's European advertising campaign and as an official UK Labour Party rallying cry). The huge success of "Bizarre Fruit" prompted M People to release "Bizarre Fruit II", a double limited edition re-release incorporating remixes of the original tracks and an additional cover of the 1975 Small Faces' UK Number 3 classic, "Itchycoo Park", which subsequently gave them more chart success. The promotional tour produced, "Come Again", the live video recording at Manchester's G-Mex.

M People supported Simply Red in the huge Euro'96 concert held at Manchester United's Old Trafford football stadium. Over 65,000 people attended and the show was also broadcast live to millions more worldwide. (Mike Pickering incidentally is a die-hard Manchester City fan).

cream of manchester

As a promotional campaign, Boddingtons gave away a free copy of "By Personal Invitation Only", a mini CD of M People tracks, which included remixes of "Just For You", "Moving On Up", "Excited", "Search For The Hero", and "Open Your Heart".

1997 saw the release of their next album, "Fresco", which prompted a change in direction for their predominately dance style. "Just For You" introduced acoustic guitar whilst their cover of Roxy Music's "Avalon" experimented with drum'n'bass. M People still produced their unique dance-sound on the hit singles, "Fantasy Island" and "Angel Street".

Just seven years after forming, M People released their "Best Of" compilation which included the new singles, "Testify", "Dreaming", and "What A Fool Believes" (a cover of the Doobie Brothers 1979 U.S. chart-topper).

Heather Small scored a hit with her debut solo-single, "Proud", in May 2000 (UK No.16). The excellent track, with Heather's distinctive vocals at their best, could have been lifted straight off an M People album. Her own album, also called "Proud", scored more chart success in June (UK No.16).

freedom of manchester

M People are as big as they come and were surprisingly awarded the 'Freedom Of Manchester' in 1999, a very rare privilege previously awarded to Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson.

Heather Small also took centre stage at the closing ceremony of the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games. Her performance was broadcast an audience of millions and reminded everbody of her superb vocal talent. 2003 sees the release of her second album.

M People (despite their differing geographical upbringings) are without doubt… Manchester People!

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