Johnny Roadhouse Music

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Johnny Roadhouse Music is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Proprietor John Roadhouse
Johnny Roadhouse Music
opened its doors in 1955
Paul McCartney, Oasis’ Gallagher brothers and The Smiths’
Johnny Marr and Mike Joyce have all bought or used
instruments from Manchester’s Johnny Roadhouse Music.
A cornerstone of Manchester’s music scene for almost 70
years, the store was founded by big-band saxophonist Johnny
Roadhouse in 1955. Although he passed away in 2009,
Johnny had entrusted his son John with the store in the 1980s
and continued to play until shortly before he died. John tells
TheParliamentary Review
about the store and discusses the
state of the retail sector today.
My father was a saxophone player who was in high demand – for 40 years, he
worked for the BBC as a staff musician, and during that time played with people
like Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey and Bob Hope. He also played, on occasion, for
the Hallé orchestra under Sir John Barbirolli when a saxophonist was required. A
charismatic and gregarious man who cared deeply about not only music but also
the local community, he opened the shop in the 1950s as a hobby; although he
never let his career as a saxophonist slip, the store saw more and more custom
through until the early 1970s.
I got involved with the shop in the 1980s, and we took the store up to its heights in
the 1990s. We worked with artists including:
»Proprietor: John Roadhouse
»Opened in 1955
»Based on Oxford Road,
»Services: Sales, repair and hire
of musical instruments
»No. of employees: 8
Johnny Roadhouse
»The Smiths
»Elton John
»The Beatles
»The Stone Roses
»Joy Division
»The Strokes
Highlighting best practice
Still a recognised part of the
Manchester community
A lot of local bands and musicians
come in – including Mike Joyce of the
Smiths, Bez and Rowetta of Happy
Mondays, Ian Brown and Reni of The
Stone Roses, Bonehead and Tony
McCarroll of Oasis, Clint Boon of
Inspiral Carpets and Damon Gough
– otherwise known as Badly Drawn
Boy. In recent years we have also sold
guitars to Stockport heroes Blossoms,
who passed through while touring,
and we are often visited by touring
From beginners to
world-class musicians
We really do sell just
about everything
Everybody is
welcome at
bands from the underground upwards,
such as Idles and The Chats, as well
as technical crews working huge
We’ve also entertained customers from
the stage and screen, including Robbie
Coltrane, Will Self, Mark Kermode,
Keith Allen, Maxine Peake, Al Murray
and Max Beesley – Senior and Junior.
The products and services we sell and
provide include but are not limited to:
»Guitars, electric and acoustic
We really do sell just about everything,
from accordions to xylophones.
Our store has an incredibly unique
environment and atmosphere.
Areas of it are dedicated to vintage
instruments, which, as well as selling,
we regularly rent out to TV and film
production companies. Alongside
our direct instrument sales and hires,
our friendly staff provide an expert
on-site repair and advisory service.
We cater for musicians of all and any
calibre – from amateurs to world-
class rock stars, they all matter to
us; everybody is welcome at Johnny
Competition and a lack of
central interest in the British
high street
There is no shortage of issues that
independent high street retailers face
in the UK today.
The high street around us is becoming
increasingly generic – chain coffee
shops, bookmakers, takeaways, charity
shops and empty shops are on every
street corner, and these are not the
kind of establishments that inspire
people to turn out on the high street.
Independent music stores these days
struggle to bring household names
and big brands into the store. A
minimum order to establish one of
many key-branded product lines
required can now easily exceed
£25,000 each.
The chain stores and online giants
purchase from suppliers in far higher
volumes and pay a lot less per item
than independent retailers.
Not only do giants like Amazon pay
low amounts of business tax and
business rates, they can often afford
to charge customers less than our
wholesale price. If we could bulk buy
at cheaper prices and pay no tax and
VAT, we would be able to compete,
but otherwise this is far from a level
playing field.
To cope with competition from the
internet, we have expanded our service
and repair work and also focus on
vintage and used instruments. Online
platforms have greater difficulty in
competing in this area.
Going forward, we would like to see
government take a harder line on
online giants.
Maintaining our position
We are fortunate to own our
building. In 1955, when my father
first established the shop, he made
the wise – and then-unconventional
– decision of taking out a mortgage
to purchase it. It stopped him losing
the shop on one occasion. If we
were paying rent today, it would
probably make what we do non-viable
considering the difficult circumstances
we face on the high street as an
independent retailer.
Our shop is unique and quirky – one
steeped in Manchester’s rich music
history – and we are confident that
this will see us through, but we would
certainly like to become a big local
player in the future once again.
Going forward,
we would like
to see
take a harder
line on online
Johnny Roadhouse Music was featured in the music video for Oasis’
1995 song
The Masterplan
Originally written as a B-side for international hit single
the song went on to become the title track in a 1998 compilation
album of B-sides which in turn sold over 2,000,000 copies.
The video, inspired by the works of Lancashire artist LS Lowry,
features an animated Oasis walking around the areas of Manchester
where they grew up. The video has since reached over 12,000,000
views on YouTube.

This article was sponsored by Johnny Roadhouse Music. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.