10 years ago today, Tony Wilson died. A god of the Manchester music scene for decades, and famous too as a TV presenter, he was immortalised in the film 24 Hour Party People starring Steve Coogan as Wilson. The mover and shaker behind Factory Records, he also came up with Manchester’s most famous dancehall, The Haçienda. That it is now apartments is not a reflection of Wilson, but a sad observation about the way today’s millenials celebrate music. If you were a student in Manchester before the late 1990s, and you hadn’t been frisked for knives or guns at the start of an evening at the Haç, you were nobody.
As this brilliant piece shows, Tony Wilson was a music god, but he was much more than that. A charismatic charmer with political ambitions, he wanted to regenerate an entire region. Perhaps his most famous role for music fans was his involvement, through his Factory Records label, with Joy Division and New Order. As recalled by Paul Morley in his seminal book on Joy Division, Tony was one of the few people to see Ian Curtis after he had died.
So we commemorate the life of a man who many loved, many felt irritated by, and many thought was a prancing chancer. Having not known Tony Wilson personally, we thank him for bringing us our favourite night club and some groundbreaking music that will live on for a century or more.