Pete Cowap (1944-1997)
Born in Middleton, Peter Cowap was a singer, songwriter and guitarist for numerous bands in the 50's, 60's and 70's. He attended Moorclose Secondary School and his parents had a shop in Alkrington. In 1962, eighteen year-old Peter Cowap formed "The Country Gentlemen". The bass player was Tony Cook formerly of the Tremors and drummer Leo Laherty. The trio began rehearsing at the Railway public house on Townley Street while manager John Dean began hunting down venues for the boys to play.
They were plucked from obscurity after a Decca representative rang Middleton's Central Records and asked if there were any promising local rhythm groups. A few weeks later four Manchester groups were called in for an audition near Belle Vue. The Gents passed the audition which resulted in Peter signing a record contract on the 9th of May 1963. The talent scout from Decca Records was Dick Row, the man that turned down the Beatles.
Pete went on to perform all over the world with various bands. In later years after moving to Moston, he would still play pubs in Middleton, including the Minder's Arms (see photo), Oddfellow's Arms, Bricklayer's and the Railway. A blue plaque at the Olde Boar's Head marks a tribute to his memory, as does the annual Peter Cowap Music Festival at Middleton Arena (previously held at the Olde Boar's Head). More about him can be found here:
Submitted by Steve Webster (and including extracts from an article by Danny Hardman), June 2012