A veteran of some of Wigan’s best-known groups of the 60s has paid tribute to one of the town’s culinary institutions for a charity single.
As the beat bands era burst into life, Mike Gannon was a principal figure in collectives from The Mad Men to The Beat Boys and The Vaqueroes.
In later years he was a guitarist with the Jess Greenough Orchestra, playing at the Monaco Ballroom in Hindley and held down prestigious gigs at The Imperial in Blackpool and Piccadilly Hotel in Manchester.
Still recording regularly with engineer Paul O’Neill at Eckersley Mill, he often pops into Santos Cafe, in Mesnes Street, for some sustenance, in between sessions.
The inspiration offered by the eaterie, run by Ash Sherafatian, has resulted in an eponymous tune, which Mike is releasing in aid of Kidscan, the children’s cancer charity.
He said: “I have been writing and recording over many years now and still enjoy going into the studio very much, working with Paul, who’s one of the top sound engineers in the country, in my opinion.
“The pleasure I get, working in the studio in Wigan is tremendous. And of course we make our way to Santos, for a bite to eat, when we break for lunch.”
Mike served on the board of Kidscan until recently, having been involved with the charity since its early days, and says the organisation has always been close to his heart.
Though he now lives in Heath Charnock he’s proud to still be writing and performing in his native Wigan.
His musical formative years were spent performing at The Twisted Wheel, where he saw jazz and blues greats such as Muddy n Waters, John Lee Hooker and Sonny Boy Williamson, while also meeting one of his heroes, Memphis Slim.
Ash, 56, who is originally from Iran and opened the cafe in 2010, said: “I didn’t even know he was doing the song until he mentioned it to me.
“Then one day he said it was finished and it was all about my cafe.
“He told me he was doing it for Kidscan and I was honoured to be a part of it.”
The Beat Boys, as well as supporting the Rolling Stones for their Empress Ballroom bow in Wigan in November 1963, was also the launchpad for Leigh-born Clive Powell, who later hit the heights as Georgie Fame.
For copies of the charity single, music lovers can contact Mike on 07989 294002.