Saturday, 11 August 2007

Really Sad News

Tony Wilson
20 February 1950 – 10 August 2007

I don’t know what to say really, so here’s some examples of how much Tony Wilson and the bands he inspired, enraged and promoted have effected my life. Growing up in Yorkshire not the North West I’ve rarely seen him on local TV so that side of his life had little impact on me so what follows is was mainly about the music.

FACT 100: The first gig I ever went to:
The first proper gig (not someone’s school band) was an anti-apartheid gig at Sheffield City hall in around 1985. The two main attractions for me and BLBW were Billy Bragg and NEW ORDER. The London Gospel Inspiration choir where also on but were not my cuppa of tea at the time. I and BLBW had got seats in the balcony, (I don’t think we knew what stalls and circle meant). I remember sitting transfixed for 2 hours. Billy was a great, a one man punk band (I don’t think I’ve seen a bad gig by him)

Then New Order came on. People moshed, people danced and shouted, Hooky played his bass nearly on the floor. Barney tried to sing and play at the same time, I have feeling Gillian was a little hidden at our side of the stage and Stephen was a whirling drum machine in the centre. The whole thing was great, I was buzzing the next day walking to VI form in my “Soweto don’t mourn mobilize” t-shirt.

FAC 63: Britain’s most dispersed art gallery.
In a world of instant music the idea that people would stand staring at record sleeves for 10’s of minutes over a number of days before buying it may seem bizarre. But Factory Record's records sleeves were so wonderful, it’s not over top to say they were a little stack of modern art, freely available to anyone, in my case in the delightfully named Casa Disco. I would stare at the colour blind test inspired sleeve for Temptation for ages; it took me a while to see the title embossed in the cover.

I know Pete Saville designed the cover, as well most other one’s worth looking at since the early 80’s, but Tony Wilson saw his potential, put up with his whimsy and time keeping and encouraged the whole wonderful Bauhaus inspired modernism look of factory. These records where different, enigmatic, unobvious, it may sound pretentious but they were one of my entries into the whole world of art and design, of alternative thinking and ideas.

FAC 73: I remember spending some of my Christmas money one year on Blue Monday, my family were perplexed by this text less blank record that wasn’t an album and wasn’t a 7” single, that had the same track on both sides (one minus vocals of course, the Beach was my fave) my Nana's confusion made the record better in my eyes. You had to know what it was about, to be cool, to be on the inside. And yet Blue Monday got played at school discos, it sounded best in our chapel hall at the monthly under 16 discos. New Order played it live on TOTP and were rubbish and even that WAS COOL.

FAC 51: The Hacienda: I only ever went the once but it was at the height of Madchester. Unlike the rest of the club I was just very drunk. We went with some super cool friends who wrote fanzines and had a good night in the sparsest most expensive (to run) extended anarchist philosophical joke going. Afterwards we went to someone's flat and watched the sun come up sat on their slate roof.

FACT 14 onwards: Coming up up to date one of the best gigs I’ve been to, was the Durutti Column (Vini Reilly) at Ronnie Scott's a couple of Christmas' ago. (Wilson mentored and promoted Vini’s beautiful enrapturing music for years). We got to Ronnie’s in plenty of time but all the best seats seemed to have gone, so we sat at the side of the stage. When the band took the stage, Vini as always seemed so introverted and shy. Halfway through the first song he turned sideways and played the rest of the show directly for us, 15 feet away. There legendary drummer Bruce Mitchell even joked with us at the end, excellent!

So Tony Wilson has directly and indirectly influenced my life in so many ways: I have about 2 ft of Factory vinyl, I’ve travelled 100 miles to gigs, downloaded fonts, had dodgy hair cuts, even worn baggy flairs all because of his bands . My blogging name even alludes to a New Order song.

Whenever you saw Tony on TV he was funny, annoying, witty, stumbling, blunt and smart. He wasn’t afraid of intelligence but hung out with BEZ. This is all without starting on FAC 13: (dancing to Joy Division in the dark in my room)or FACDVD 424: “24-hour Party People” one of the best pop films ever made.

So my condolences go to his family and friends who have lost someone close to them and as for the rest of us, the world in general has just got that bit less interesting.
Cheers Tony and god bless

Factory catalogue.

SAT 11th Update
national noon news didn't cover TW death apparently the BBC think Big Ben being cleaned is more important. Nice film here though . One amusing thing is that the fictional TW from Michael Winterbottom's film seems to be being mixed up with the actual man himself, the sort of post-modern collision that Tony would have enjoyed.
Sun 12 th update: FAC 183 bothsides!: Last night, played out to the clear darkening skies of Crystal Palace by the enviously gifted S and G. They even sound good acoustically
Sun 12th evening update: Here's Paul Morley on TW and Kevin Cummins on the visual side and a bit grumpy about the new Joy Division film Control


Pete said...

That's just fucking devastating. I'm going to play Atmosphere by Joy Division on repreat for the rest of the day. I don't think there's been a single more influential person in British popular music for the last thirty years... apart from Simon Cowell maybe? And Wilson is the one who gets taken. I'm starting to believe there really is a god, and he's Patrick Bateman. "Hmm.. right. That's Joe Strummer, and Tony Wilson, and I don;t know how Edwyn Collins managed to survive my best efforts but he sure won't be making music again. And Phil Collins and Mick Hucknall are still in perfect health - just how it should be." Twat.

BLTP said...

I didn't know where to start. One light on the horizon Edwynn's got a new cd out soon.

Pete said...

I knkew there was someone missing from the list above - John Peel of course. How could they both go in the space of three years? It beggars belief.

BLTP said...

Yep it doesn't seem right some how, it's amazing how these things effect you. I could have gone on all night , the time we played "respect" in a van driving down to Dorset in a thunderstorm. meeting you at last in a puddle at Glasto and getting down the front to see NO debut True Faith.