Last Friday, while PopFest was in full swing and I was DJing at Go Bar, one of my last remaining heroes passed away. Professional Mancunian Tony Wilson, the very man who inspired the name of this site, was 57. Anything I write about him will come across as sore understatement. So, rather than write about him as if he were someone I knew I’ll write about him as someone I think I thought I knew.
Wilson was, and remains, an inspiration. He never bought the myths of himself, punk or his beloved Factory Records. But he loved the myths. He knew that myths are part of the story and often the most interesting part. Further, he understood instinctively that people not only enjoy myths…we need them. Not that we need to be lied to but that we need to have romance, mystery and the thrill of discovery in our lives. We need legends and heroes. We need inspiration and emotional currency.
He was Manchester’s perpetually cheerleader and patron. His staunch refusal to ever move Factory Records away from Manchester to the more sensible industry hub of London confounded and frustrated musicians and distributors. Independence was more important to him than status and, really, he’d have never fit with the suits anyway.
And maybe all of the above is complete myth, too. I only know what I’ve read and seen and heard. By, rather than deconstruct the man by too much truth seeking I’ll take the myth as I know it and seek similar experience. It matters not if he wasn’t everything I thought he was. The fact that I think them means I believe such a man is possible.
If the myth of Tony Wilson inspires belief that there remain men who cannot be bought and will tirelessly and enthusiastically devote their lives to art and music then that’s a myth I need. Those are the men I seek to find.
Rest in peace, Mr. Wilson, and thank you.