Some bands go through very few line-up changes during their lifetimes.

Others, like the Rolling Stones, may swap one or two members over the decades.

Not so Manchester post-Punk outfit The Fall. No less than 66 musicians played for them during their 40 years of existence, starting in Prestwich in 1976.

The Fall’s lead singer Mark E. Smith on stage, January 1988

The Fall’s lead singer Mark E. Smith on stage, January 1988

In fact, the number got so great that founder and lead singer Mark E. Smith commented: ‘If it’s me and your granny on bongos, it’s The Fall!’

The Fall first came together after the hugely influential Sex Pistols’ concert at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall in July 1976.

Inspired by the energy they witnessed at the gig, Smith and his girlfriend Una Baines, Martin Bramah and Tony Friel decided to form their own group.

Brix Smith, former band member of The Fall, February 2016

Brix Smith, former band member of The Fall, February 2016

Smith was 19 at the time and had left home three years earlier to move in with Baines. He quit Stand Grammar School to take an evening class in A-level literature at the same time as working as a shipping clerk at Salford docks.

Literature played a big part in shaping the new group. Smith read Raymond Chandler, H. P. Lovecraft and New Brighton author Malcolm Lowry.

Even the group’s name ‘The Fall’ came from the 1956 novel by Albert Camus.

Disc jockey John Peel – a great supporter of The Fall, February 1976

Disc jockey John Peel – a great supporter of The Fall, February 1976

Musical influences included Iggy Pop and the Stooges, Captain Beefheart, the Velvet Underground and experimental German rock band Can.

Bramah became the group’s guitarist with Friel on bass. As the band couldn’t afford a drum kit, Baines bashed rhythms out on biscuit tins before switching to keyboards.

The Fall’s early sound was raw and repetitive. Their debut concert at the North West Arts basement in May 1977 saw their first line-up change when drummer Steve Ormrod was replaced by Karl Burns.

Manchester broadcaster and record label owner Tony Wilson, November 1999

Manchester broadcaster and record label owner Tony Wilson, November 1999

Buzzcocks’ manager Richard Boon funded the group’s first recording session which resulted in material for the EP Bingo-Master’s Break-Out. The only problem was that Boon couldn’t come up with cash to release it.

The Fall had to wait until June 1978 for their vinyl debut with two songs on the album Short Circuit: Live at the Electric Circus – a compilation disc of live recordings made at the Manchester venue before it closed.

More line-up changes occurred after Kay Carroll, a friend of Baines, became manager. Friel left in December 1977, to be replaced by Jonnie Brown and later Eric McGann.

The Sex Pistols, whose Manchester gig inspired The Fall, December 1976

The Sex Pistols, whose Manchester gig inspired The Fall, December 1976

Baines quit the group in March 1978 to be replaced by Yvonne Pawlett and then McGann walked out in May.

Eventually the group’s 16-year-old roadie – Marc Riley – was recruited to play bass guitar. He went on to work extensively on radio with Mark Radcliffe and currently presents BBC Radio 6 Music.

In spite of the changes in personnel, The Fall still managed to perform three tracks for the Granada TV show What’s On, hosted by Tony Wilson, in February 1978.

Mark E. Smith and The Fall at Reading Festival, August 1991

Mark E. Smith and The Fall at Reading Festival, August 1991

They also recorded their first session for influential disc jockey John Peel who was to become a major supporter. Over the years, The Fall played 24 sessions for Peel’s programmes.

In December 1978, The Fall recorded their debut album Live at the Witch Trials in a single day. Burns then left to be replaced by cabaret musician Mike Leigh.

Founder member Bramah also quit to form the band Blue Orchids with Baines, and Riley’s former bandmates Craig Scanlon and Steve Hanley arrived to fill the gap. Riley moved over to guitar along with Scanlon to allow Hanley to play bass.

Fall idols Iggy Pop and David Bowie, March 1977

Fall idols Iggy Pop and David Bowie, March 1977

It was an important move as Hanley’s bass lines became a trademark part of The Fall’s sound. Pawlett left in July 1979 to look after her dog.

Leigh left the group in March 1980 to return to cabaret and was replaced by 16-year-old Paul Hanley, brother of Steve Hanley.

His age caused a problem when the band planned to tour the USA. He was denied a visa on the grounds that he was too young to play American clubs that served alcohol.

Bez of Manchester band the Happy Mondays, who were influenced by The Fall, August 2007

Bez of Manchester band the Happy Mondays, who were influenced by The Fall, August 2007

Karl Burns was invited back into the group for the tour which resulted in the album entitled A Part of America Therein, 1981.

In 1982, Smith’s American girlfriend and future wife Brix Smith joined the band to play guitar. Her nickname came from the track The Guns of Brixton by the Clash.

The arrival of platinum blonde Brix brought a more conventional pop influence to the group as a well as a new sense of fashion.

The Fall were set fair for their next three decades.

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