Whoever invented the saying ‘Jack of all trades’ was probably thinking about Gio-Goi founders the Donnelly Brothers. Manchester duo Christopher and Anthony rose from being working class criminals with links to the infamous Quality Street Gang, to being key players in the rise in the Acid House scene, forging out careers as promoters, running some of the first and largest illegal raves in the UK.
After fruitful careers running parties, the brothers decided to avoid ongoing clashes with police investigations and pursued a career in fashion, with their highly successful clothing label Gio-Goi, which became an overnight success with everybody from Deadmau5, Rhiana and Vivienne Westwood as fans, with Westwood naming the brothers “Ambassadors of a generation”.
As the brothers prepare to re-launch the label for the third time, Mixmag caught up with them to talk more about their past experiences and their plans going forward.
So, you started out bootlegging clothing?
Anthony: Yeah, I got employed as a kid when I was about 10. As I got older we started to progress all across Europe with our friends. We were like the unofficial side of the bands – that’s how I first got in with Bono and the Edge. They’d turn up to go into their gig and who’s fucking face would be there but mine. They’d wave at me out their tour bus and ask us how we’re doing.
That must have been some experience.
Anthony: The funniest recollection was when we printed T-shirts for Michael Jackson's tour. We went to Scandinavia and had all the gear shipped in. We’d all been on a boat for 24 hours counting our profit in our heads, thinking we’re gonna take all this Scandinavian money and then we opened the parcel and Michael Jackson looked like a fucking alien! He was printed with a green face! We had to sell the T-shirts in the pitch-black dark about a mile away from the gig, but we sold them.
How many did you have?
Anthony: About 4 [laughs]. Nah, I’d say 4000, 5000.
So how did you get into throwing parties?
Christopher: Our sister Tracey worked at Factory Records and we were seen as her scally brothers who caused trouble on the Haçienda doors. Then the Acid House thing kicked off and Tony Wilson asked us to do the official merchandise for Factory Records and The Happy Mondays off the back of us bootlegging merch.
Anthony: We got really into it and wanted to party all night as the clubs used to close at 2am, so we decided to do Manchester’s first illegal rave called ‘Sweat It Out’. We had everybody there from Tony (Wilson), New Order and Noel Gallagher.
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