"There would be no Joy Division or New Order without Tony - He really believed in us and he was smart enough to start a label and put our records out."
Stephen Morris - Joy Division/New Order (via NME.com)
Tony Wilson (born Anthony Howard Wilson, February 20, 1950), founder of Factory Records and owner of the famous The Hacienda club in Manchester, passed away last Friday, August 10, 2007, as a result of a heart attack. He was also suffering from kidney cancer, but his heart attack had nothing to do with his ongoing cancer (although the chemotherapy had weakened him).
Walski was alerted to his death over the weekend by Lord Panda, but couldn't get around to writing this obituary until now, due to tight time constraints. In any case, right now you are probably wondering "So What?" - why was Tony Wilson important enough for this obituary post.
Well, as Stephen Morris, drummer for New Order, and Joy Division previously, rightly pointed out, without Wilson, the world would probably not have ever known about both these bands. And being a fan of Liverpool FC, Tony Wilson and the entire sub-culture surrounding Factory Records are two reasons why Walski would actually love to visit Manchester some day.
Some of you may recall a film from 2002 called "24 Hour Party People", which was a semi-fictionalized account of Tony Wilson's heyday - okay, those of you who are patrons of the not-so-legal DVD market may recall this film since it was banned in Malaysia - Tony Wilson's devil-may-care attitude, his "we'll do it first, then figure out why later" modus operandi, is what allowed bands like Joy Division (and later New Order), Happy Mondays, A Certain Ratio, The Durrutti Column, and Section 25 (to name a few bands that laid the foundations to Walski's highly eclectic taste in music) to see the light of day. Each, in their own way, have shaped British popular music to some extent. And due to that, pop music in general, for sure.
Certainly, Walski will always hold a certain amount of gratitude for what Tony Wilson had done... thanks for the great music, Anthony.
(Factory Records, tributes and more, in the full post)
For those of you interested, you can find the full list of which bands had been signed to Factory Records on this Wikipedia entry. It is quite a long list...
The NME.com blog has put up a Tony Wilson obit page, where you can leave a note if you like. Also from NME is the news item about Tony's demise, plus their obituary for one of indie music's true heroes...
Walski is now determined to dig up that "24 Hour Party People" DVD, and offer a cold one... to toast the memory of this great music personality... RIP Anthony...