Saturday, August 11, 2007

Print the legend...

Anthony Howard Wilson (20th February, 1950 - 10th August, 2007)

As you may well know by now, Anthony Wilson, one of music's more larger-than-life characters and one of its most important figures died yesterday of a heart attack, following a battle with kidney cancer at the all-too-young age of 57. My thoughts go out to his family and to everyone his life touched.

I never met the man but he had a profound, if silent effect on shaping my musical taste at a young age. There will always be a part of me that thinks Tony Wilson was really two people. Growing up, I couldn't countenance that Anthony H. Wilson, the dry, loose Granada Reports newsreader and antagonistic host of late-night talk-show, Up Front and Tony Wilson, the cultural impresario responsible for Factory Records and The Hacienda were the same person. I guess - and I type this with a half-smile on my face - that Wilson was all things to all men. As hated as he was loved, he didn't care about his public image as much as people thought he did. Steve Coogan's preening, self-important portrayal of him in 24 Hour Party People was only a small facet of the man. What Wilson really cared about was Manchester and, most of all, fostering the music that came out of here.

Without Wilson, who's to say that Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays would have had the seismic cultural impact that they did. Without him, we may well look back at Acid House a lot differently, as in The Hacienda, he arguably gave the scene its communal focal point, a place that embodied everything that was both right and wrong about the movement.

His legacy is just as important too. Every independent label worth its salt learns from both Factory's successes and failures. He was a paragon for staying true to your roots - he never moved to London - but also a living cautionary tale for those who wish to fly close to the sun. Pretty much everything you could ever wish for when starting up an independent label, Wilson had already either triumphed at or fucked up spectacularly.

No matter how many people lay claim to the title, Tony Wilson truly was Mr Manchester and he'll be sadly missed.

Joy Division - Transmission (mp3)

A Certain Ratio - Do The Du (mp3)

New Order - The Perfect Kiss (mp3)

Happy Mondays - Wrote For Luck (mp3)




Blogger Jon Rob said...

Cool post. Tony Wilson was never a universally loved type, but the world is a lot poorer without people like him.

3:04 pm  
Blogger James said...

Jesus! Thought that was Mancunian writer/musician/cycling enthusiast/all-round raconteur, John Robb for a minute there.

Agree with your sentiments, Jon. He was definitely a take-him-or-leave-him character, but I think that a big chunk of Manchester's music history couldn't have happened without him.

5:01 pm  
Blogger Tim said...

Very well put. Every credit to you.

8:47 pm  

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