Tony Wilson died yesterday. A heart attack as a complication of cancer of the kidney. He was famous for being the founder of Factory Records and for the Hacienda. I remember him from a time before all that though. He joined Granada Reports as a ‘cub’ reporter and became “The Kamacazie Kid”. They gave him all the worst jobs and ribbed him endlessly about having a degree in English from Cambridge. He took it in good part and as he was 7 years older than me I thought he was wonderful. Blonde, good-looking, clever and obviously (to me at least) slightly ‘alternative’ I had a fairly major crush. My Dad couldn’t work out why I suddenly wouldn’t miss Granada Reports and decided I might want to be a journalist. So someone was pleased!
The crush wore off as I started being interested in real life boys. I met him once though. I was about 18 and I went backstage after a Leonard Cohen concert at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester. I was hoping to gaze into the sad, brown eyes of Mr Cohen and have some sort of profound ‘moment’. Oh, and just to make matters worse I’d dragged my boyfriend along with me. (Please – what can I say, I was 18!) When I was finally ushered into the room, there was Tony Wilson,lounging back in his chair, feet up, looking very cool and at ease. He gave me the briefest glance, instantly dismissing me as being of no interest, raised one eyebrow and saying nothing, waved his hand in the general direction of a small, slightly crumpled, unimpressive man in the corner. I got my ticket autographed, didn’t even make eye contact with Cohen, and, slightly apologetically, slunk off into the Manchester rain.
Later Tony Wilson had a chaotic late night TV ‘music and culture’ show called So It Goes which I adored and which I loved even more because the title was taken from a recurring phrase in Vonnegut’s Slaughter House Five.
Later still, while I was at college in Didsbury, Wilson was in the area (Palatine Rd) starting Factory Records. I even went to the Hacienda a few times. A big, cold, unfriendly place with lots of hard shiny surfaces, it came to life when a good band was on.
And now he’s gone:
So it goes, pilgrim.
There’s a good video with Mr Wilson here if you are interested.
And in the spirit of the blog, what did I learn from this reflection?
- The importance of distant but familiar strangers to my inner world
- I can vividly reconnect with my inner 18 year old for a few minutes
- He was only 57 – life is for living, so party on people!
- Do stuff, don’t just think about it! Don’t rely on someone else to build the Hacienda.
- Anyone who reads the blog has just worked out how old I am!