So where do you start with Tony Wilson? TV newsreader, legendary record label founder, iconic nightclub owner, music conference organiser, gig promoter, writer, bar owner, professional promoter of Manchester and entrepreneur are just a few of the different hats that he wore.
He was a man of vision – someone who could see a glossy future for Manchester even when confronted by the grimy, run down reality of the city in the 70s. Countless Mancunians felt proud of him, and yet he was scorned in equal measure by the hordes that he loved to infuriate (especially on Merseyside). Never a shrinking violet, he was too big for his own boots, loved the sound of his own voice and would happily argue with anyone who disagreed with his strident views.
Although he might never have played on a note on a record, it’s hard to think of anyone who had a greater influence on the music scene of the North West from the days of punk through to the 90s. Factory Records, The Hacienda, his ‘So It Goes’ TV show, gigs at The Factory Club – Wilson’s fingerprints are everywhere. Maybe he is best described on his gravestone – as a cultural catalyst.
It’s now 8 years since Tony Wilson died. If he was still here now he’d be 65 – and no doubt Wilson the pensioner would be opening his big gob on a regular basis about the state of the country, the Northern Powerhouse of Manchester and, more likely, publicising himself. Now that Manchester has got round to naming a road after him and opening an arts centre in his honour, it seems an appropriate time to celebrate his life with a night dedicated to the huge musical legacy that he launched and nurtured.
We’re going to start the night with the album that paved the way for the future success of Factory Records – Unknown Pleasures, the iconic debut album by Joy Division. Wilson took a big gamble with his own personal finances to fund its recording, but his belief in the band was vindicated. Most of Joy Division famously hated Martin Hannett’s ground breaking production at the time, but that give it a timeless quality which still reverberates 36 years on.
As for the rest of the night – it’s up to you. We’ll play any tracks that you want – as long as the tune has some (even tenuous) Wilson connection then we’ll play it. It could be your favourite Factory track, a tune you heard in the Hacienda, a band you saw at the Factory Club or one that Wilson introduced on the TV. Don’t worry if you don’t have it on vinyl – get in touch and let us know in advance what you’d like to hear, and we’ll do our best to get our hands on a copy for you to play.
And if you have an anecdote about Wilson then please come along and share it. As Wilson is probably most famous for talking – especially about himself – then we’re sure it’s what he would have wanted!
GLOSSOP RECORD CLUB’S TONY WILSON NIGHT
Thursday 10th September, 8-11pm
Glossop Labour Club, Chapel Street, Glossop, SK13 8AT
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