Colourful characters don’t come much more kaleidoscopic than the indomitable Mike Wiand.
The former US spy – better known for founding legendary Leeds nightclub The Warehouse – died aged 70, after losing his battle with pancreatic cancer.
You only have to look at the tributes flooding Mike’s Facebook page to know what a lasting impression he made. “A great friend, mentor and wonderful kind sharing human being,” said David Aarons. “Thanks for all the fun times at The Warehouse,” added John Leigh.
Basketball-loving Mike was born on January 2, 1944, in Nebraska USA and moved to North Yorkshire in the late 1960s to work as a spy, having gained a degree in Russian from the University of Wyoming.
He met his first wife Denise at The In Time club in Leeds and they opened two Damn Yankee burger restaurants, first in Harrogate and then in Leeds, following up their success with The Warehouse, which opened its Somers Street doors in 1979.
The venue hosted a range of influential and groundbreaking DJs, such as Greg James (credited as the first DJ to mix records), Danny Pucciarelli, Ian Dewhirst, Steve Luigi and Roy Archer. It was also a cool hangout for bands and musicians such as Marc Almond of Soft Cell, George Michael of Wham!, Paul Young, The Village People, Depeche Mode, Whitesnake and George McCrae, many of whom became Mike’s close personal friends.
The Stone Roses, Pulp and Oasis also gigged there over the years, albeit under different management.
His son Dean said: “Dad had so much passion, heart and creativity, plus he really knew the music industry and sound systems, which is one reason people flocked to The Warehouse.
“It was a bit of an obscure location for a club and there wasn’t much advertising for the opening night, but word got out and people were queuing round the block to get in, with about two thirds being turned away because it was so packed.”
Former wife Denise said: “The Warehouse was so happening and edgy it was exactly right for Leeds at that time. People came from all over to experience it because they loved being part of the cultural change.
“We never imagined the place would be such a huge success when we opened it. Everyone has such fond memories of the music, the atmosphere and Mike himself – we had 20 years of fantastic marriage, filled with fun and smiles, and The Warehouse is part of his legacy.” WHAT ARE YOUR MUSICAL MEMORIES AT THE WAREHOUSE? Click here to register and have your say on the stories and issues that matter to you