AS the town counts down to the Dead Dead Good Weekend, Gemma Sproston speaks to Steve Harrison, founder of Omega Records and the independent label from which this three-day festival takes its name.

DURING its glory days, Omega Records was the lifeblood for music fans across the north west and beyond, playing a pivotal role in the indie and dance explosion of the late 80s and early 90s.

Famous for launching The Charlatans’ career – amongst other bands – the store and label hold an affectionate place in people’s hearts and they’re responsible for so many first memories, whether its singles, albums, fanzines, gigs or festivals.

Customers and friends included Morrissey, Doves, Johnny Marr, Ian Brown, John Squire, Billy Duffy, Bernard Sumner, Tim Burgess, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris and Tony Wilson, and former employees have gone on to work across the music, film design and TV industry.

Born and raised in Northwich, Steve attended Sir John Deane’s Grammar School and Mid Cheshire College in Hartford. He launched his first record store in Winsford before setting up shops in Northwich, Altrincham, Crewe, Macclesfield and Wigan. Today, he works in sports management for a firm of lawyers, and is in the process of writing a book, Here Are the Young Men… A Life in Music.

Here he chats about his musical background, what he’s looking forward to about the Dead Dead Good Weekend, and what the future holds.

What was your first local gig?

“My first local gig was at Hartford Church Hall and was Electric Stiletto. My friend Tim Bird played in the band with his big brother. They played covers of bands such as Status Quo, Alex Harvey Band, AC/DC, Kiss. It blew my mind that my school mate could be the drummer in such a great band – we were around 13.”

How did the idea to start a record shop and the Dead Dead Good label arise?

“I told my dad when I was seven that I was going to have a record shop when I was big. I began by selling northern soul records at all-nighters across the north west associated with the scooter scene – Omega Records was named after the Omega Scooter Club from Northwich in the early 70s.

“My first shop was on Woodford Lane, Winsford, in 1982. It was tiny. It was mainly mail-order sales and had a very specialised customer base across the area.

“I moved to Witton Street in Northwich within a couple of years, did a business studies course, got on to the Government-funded enterprise allowance scheme, and was supported by my parents, and a supportive bank manager. I learned on the job and listened to people.”

What were those first few years of the store and label like?

“The happiest days of my working life. It was a melting pot for an outstanding community and we often remained in-store chatting and drinking coffee long after the 6pm closing time. For a period, it was possibly the finest record store in the north of England, if not the UK!”

What advice do you have for bands today?

“Set your standards high and be driven by content, melody and performance above style. If you can manage all four then we’re talking artistic utopia. Enjoy and keep your egos intact. And find and stay loyal to the good guys.”

What are your thoughts on how Northwich has developed as a creative town?

“While it feels a little unwieldy at times, with no real centre, I believe from the outside looking in there is a genuine underbelly of a great creative focus. Commercialisation and development need to be aligned with community and focus on the bigger picture, not simply a ‘here today gone tomorrow’ approach.

“There appears to be a genuine appetite to engage and realise the creative arts within the town and it should be commended.”

How do you feel about your legacy being celebrated by the Dead Dead Good Weekend?

“Both humbled and proud. The work effort and enthusiasm has been fabulous and the coming together of the artists is quite special.

“I’m looking forward to judging bands next weekend at The Salty Dog and then speaking at the event itself. I’m very excited. Oh, did I say – I miss the pies from Birtwistle’s. Most of all I look forward to meeting lots of people.”

Tell us more about your forthcoming book.

“I’ve been asked on a number of occasions in respect of writing my story. It seems about the right time to do it. It’ll be factual, historical, educational and most of all a celebration of an exceptional era – the changing of musical formats from vinyl to CD, the Madchester scene, acid house – a huge explosion in the north west of which Northwich and mid Cheshire was certainly a big part of.”

n The Dead Dead Good Weekend runs from Friday, May 9 to 11 in venues across the town. Visit for full details.

You can catch Steve in a Q&A at Northwich Library on May 11 along with BBC Radio 6 music DJ Mark Radcliffe and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Mark Gill.

If you want share your memories of Omega Records and Dead Dead Good visit Steve’s Facebook page HereAreTheYoungMen2018, Twitter account @StephenHM56 or email