Someone said to me, “You’re a northern geek, why haven’t you found the Oasis / Gallagher home where Noel and Liam grew up.” One sunny Sunday evening on the way home from Blackpool I came off the motorway early to seek out the house in Burnage on the outskirts of Manchester.
In the nineties I wasn’t a big fan of Oasis. They did about four mind-explosive timeless songs and I can remember the working-class Oasis versus middle-class Blur stirred up by the media in the nineties but I didn’t listen to them until years later. I’d rather listen to interviews with Noel Gallagher who speaks his mind (“That dreary crappy Phil Collins and Wet Wet Wet just had to be kicked out of the charts by someone like us. The world had been spoon-fed warm sewage for long enough.”) His interview on Mark Lawson Talks To is one of the best.
I found the house where they’d grown up on a typical housing estate. Noel and Liam were five years apart in ages- a big age gap when you’re young. They shared a bedroom here. They lived here with Peggie and Paul their Irish mum and older brother after flitting (in the middle of their night) from their abusive dad who still lives about 1.5 miles away. Though they were known for their explosive arguments Noel and Liam got on well at home. It was only when the group earned commercial success there were power clashes. It was a Catholic family and they attended church every week until Peggie stopped going (God comes up a lot in the songs.)
Initially I parked the car outside the house but moved it as there seemed to be people passing by or hanging around outside for a long time. When millions flushed into the Oasis pocket Liam offered to buy his mum Peggie a castle in Cheshire but all she wanted was a new front gate. It looks like she’s had a new fence as well as a new gate. Peggie doesn’t favour the mansions and millions lifestyle and still lives here close to her siblings (Irish family, one of eight children.) She’s probably pay a small fortune for her two sons lads to get on and live nearby than 200 miles away in big London.
Who would ever have thought two lads messing about with second-hand guitars in this house on a council estate would go from signing on for welfare to have hits across the world in about 4 four years? Who knows how many albums they could have finished had Liam not been such a dipstick and be the root of the group splitting up. Both worked for their dad’s concrete company and Noel worked a little a screen-printing company but much of life was spent on the dole. Noel became a roadie for The Inspiral Carpets and Peggie was mortified when her 21-year-old son suggested moving out to live with his girlfriend.
If you hear Noel interviewed he mentions walking down into Burnage to visit Sifters Record shop. He bought his first Beatles records from here and most of the music that informed him: The Smiths, Happy Mondays, Joy Division, The Jam, etc.
I wasn’t sure if Sifters was still there so I drove down to the line of shops in Burnage – to found it does exist. These vinyl/cassette shops did roaring trade in the seventies and eighties but you wouldn’t think current buying methods would support them now - but this one is still going. I still listen to cassettes and often got to know two albums at the same time when the stereo automatically reached the end of the tape and then played the other side. I can’t bring myself to throw them away; the bits of artwork I did on the inlay cards takes me right back to those days when music seemed to speak personally to me.
Where the Gallaghers grew up. Peggie brought up Paul, Noel, Liam on her own…