Final Thoughts - Tony Wilson

...and so Tony Wilson died ; with him, "the sun" as Peter Saville once described & allegorised him to, went down on Factory Records and it's legacy, situated deep within Manchester's psychogeography. It began at the end of manufacturing industry in the UK and accidentally ignited a series of events which led to the coming together and transformation of Manchester, the dust of which is just beginning to settle on the gleaming steel & glass apartments now built on the old sites of bombed-out warehouses.

I'd seen the article in the Manchester Evening News in January 2007 featuring Tony Wilson battling with cancer, a battle I believed him to come through as others had, but when I caught part of a Look North West TV interview with him & Gordon Burns regarding the lack of availability of the life-prolonging drug Sutent, I was shocked at his appearance, how quickly the cancer had ravaged his body, his emaciated frame dwarfed in a tailor-made suit, his voice hoarse, his manner as determined as ever. It was another shock to receive a call from my mum on an August Friday night to be told that he had died.

I spent the next couple of weeks painting and reflecting on his death, listening to "The Return of The Durutti Column" as nothing else seemed as apt for the time, it's sad, bleak and haunting sound capturing both the period in which it was created — Manchester's then dark, dank, dreary, dirty, wet & gritty sad self — and the sadness of the death of the personality who generously sent it on it's way into the world.

Factory's subsequent generosity in it's output and product led, moved & danced Manchester towards rebirth, a blueprint for cities nationwide — it invested in Manchester and Mancunians causing a new-found confidence to take root and grow. I remember having a row with someone in the late 1980's about how much of a dump Manchester was, yet I loved it ; their point was that I believed nothing was going to change — I just didn't expect it to be on the scale & scope that happened — did anyone?

People in Manchester used to say — and more so since it's demise — that Factory missed out on signing The Smiths, Stone Roses and other major Manchester bands: whether this was through bad timing, lack of money, lack of interest or (D) all of the above, this proved to be a good move for the music in Manchester as it meant that Factory didn't have everything under their roof, there were other pockets of resistance determined to develop their own sound & style away from it, this fierce independence and reluctance/dislike/distrust of Factory led to more richer sounds emerging from different areas of the city, making Manchester's music scene even more diverse & special.

Final Thoughts - Altered States



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