Monday, August 13, 2007

RIP Tony Wilson

Just a few things that made Wilson so great:

1. That batshit moment in neworderstory when he talks about Ian Curtis' death, and he states, completely plainfaced, that Joy Division would have been "as big as Pink Floyd if he'd lived."
2. That other batshit moment in neworderstory when Barney Sumner yells "you ruined my career!" at Wilson in a semi-ironic manner on a mock game-show but you can just tell that he was sort of serious about it and all Wilson can do is look sheepish.
3. Allowing himself to be immortalized by Steve Coogan in "24 Hour Party People" ... the movie is so-so but as a series of snapshots of Wilson's remarkable life, it couldn't be a better tribute.
4. Opening the Hacienda against all good sense and sanity, having it blossom into a cultural touchstone for 80's dance music (albeit never a profitable one), then romanticizing it at every opportunity. See also: Happy Mondays, signing and promoting.

And that was what made Wilson so entertaining -- he was the eternal optimist that you couldn't bring yourself to hate. He might have been irrelevant to the industry once Factory imploded (and the complete invisibility of the follow-up label, Factory Too, really hammered the nail in deep) but you could always could on Wilson to pop up in the middle of an NME news item, giving his two cents on some new band or controversy. There is a generation of Mancunians -- among them Mark E Smith and Peter Hook -- who were slightly bonkers (at least in quotes) but whose reputations had reached a certain level of immunity. That combination made them a bottomless source for good press, which is a tough combination to pull off consider how easily pop stars can become boring / the public can become bored of them. These guys could always say anything they wanted at any time and people would always tune in, not necessarily out of reverence, but for simple curiosity. I always got a kick out of reading Tony Wilson's two cents on something. And why not? He used to run the coolest music label on the planet.

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