It’ll be Nine years soon since Anthony H Wilson passed away , so on his this his 66th birthday I’d like to just write a few lines in tribute.
I first met Tony way back in 1978 and although a bit wary of him , I did always feel I was able throughout the 1980s to phone him when I was working on BBC Radio Derby and he was a Granada about various cassettes of crappy local Derby bands I’d send to him from time to time. It didn’t seem odd to me then; after all Tony was part of Manchester’s fabric and with Factory records in that period very much the centre of any scene in Manchester with a national profile so I didn’t feel as if I was mithering him , and to be fair to Tony he never made me feel that way or ever told me to stop ‘mithering’.
Those of us who knew Tony are getting older and fewer and many youngsters in Manchester and Salford aren’t aware of who he is or for that matter have even heard of Factory records or Joy Division/New Order and yet every day they benefit from his various manifestos from back in the day to do with Manchester.
Manchester has become a bit cocky and middle class in recent years, almost as if it’s resting on it’s cultural laurels and squeezing the working classes out of the loop , so it’s worth reminding ourselves of some of the things Tony did that put us on the map and helped elevate us into world city status.
The big one outside of music was setting up the In The City international music seminar , even those of us involved in the media and music business found it hard to imagine that big record company types from the UK never mind around the world would come to scruffy old Manchester and yet they did , and the tills in the pubs, clubs , hotels and restaurants were ringing . This actually opened Manchester City Council’s eyes up to what was possible and I know that it was Tony Wilson who was behind Manchester’s rather cheeky bid for The Olympics which was scorned by the whole meduia , and yet inadvertently resulted in Manchester getting the Commonwealth games . Actually if you’re a Man City fan , you can indirectly thank Man United super fan Tony Wilson for that big stadium you’ve got ; and that’s the whole point, there’s very little culturally that has gone in Manchester for almost 40 years that we can’t indirectly thank Tony Wilson for.
So on this day , let’s have a drink to Tony and talk about him to mates and educate our kids about him , because for all his many faults , how can you not admire a bloke who gets called a cunt by the lead singer of a band ( Joy Division’s Ian Curtis) on first meeting and then signs them up and helps to propel them to legendary status , that will never ever happen anywhere again especially not in Manchester’s middle class cultural landscape , but let’s not waste that momentum he gave us as a City. happy birthday Tony and thanks for everything .