Tony Wilson, the record label owner, television presenter, nightclub manager and all round media ideas man died yesterday. For many people he is best known as the founder of the seminal Manchester record label Factory and its equally legendary nightclub The Hacienda. However he began his career with as a presenter with Granada television hosting programs such as The Other Side Of Midnight and reporting regionally for programs such as World In Action. He maintained his role as a broadcaster throughout his professional life including stints on XFM Manchester and BBC Manchester respectively.
He managed a number of bands including A Certain Ratio and Vini Reilly’s Durutti Column and was later part owner of Factory Records that was the label that brought us Joy Division, New Order and later bands like The Happy Mondays. At the same he founded and managed The Hacienda night club and Dry bar which became venues of renown in Manchester and if anything vital hubs for the “Madchester” scene of the 1990’s .
Wilson was later a key part of the In The City music festival which served as a conference for the music industry and also created the F4 online label which was the fourth incarnation of Factory records. He lived with Yvette Lindsay a former model that assisted in the creation of the In The City event.
In 2006 Wilson was diagnosed with cancer and in early 2007 underwent surgery to remove one of his kidneys, despite the surgery being apparently successful the cancer progressed and despite chemotherapy treatment his condition worsened. He was recommended the drug Sunitinib that was not funded by the Manchester Health Trust, many of Wilson’s friends and colleagues set up a fund to pay for his medication.
Wilson died of a heart attack in Manchester’s Christie Hospital on the 10th August, he was 57.
In conclusion it would be impossible to chronicle the history of British music immediately after the punk explosion of the late seventies without finding Tony Wilson’s name written somewhere. He had a proven ear for finding talent in the most unusual places and many of the bands he championed went on not just to have an immediate influence on the musical environment of England but a lasting legacy. Without bands such as Joy Division, New Order or The Happy Mondays to name but three the musical landscape would be very different today. It’s safe to safe that Tony Wilson was to all intents and purposes very much a “one off”.