Sunday, August 12, 2007

Tony Wilson

Sad to read last night of the death of British journalist and record label owner Tony Wilson at the age of only 57.

I met the man who would foster such acts as Joy Division/New Order and The Durutti Column when he was a young journo on Granada Reports, the evening news program of Manchester's commercial TV station, in the early or mid-1970s.

He was doing a feature piece on a family member's oft-demonstrated talent for psychometry and associated, ah, eccentric activities, and, possibly because I'd started to express an interest in journalism, I was allowed the day off school to trail around watching Wilson and the crew at work, first in our home then in some nearby countryside.

I remember a young man who was open and friendly with an engaging smile and who didn't ignore me for being 'just a kid' but found time to chat with me even though he was busy.

I also remember learning how to hide a 'mike in shot' with a leaf; that the Chinese restaurant we all went to on the Granada account afterwards was the first real restaurant I'd ever been to; and that youthfully cocky Wilson, cheerfully skeptical of his interview subject's 'powers', was a little subdued after being taken to one side for a demonstration out of microphone range.

Wilson remained in Granada's employ for most of his life, even apparently at the height of his success as a 'record mogul', impressario and promoter of the Manchester music scene.

It's perhaps an indication of the kind of guy he was that when chemotherapy for kidney cancer failed and he couldn't afford a 3500GBP a month course of drugs doctors thought might help, his friends in the music industry found the cash.

-- Nick

Postscript: Bonnie Malkin's UK Telegraph obit shows a more than passing similarity to Wilson's Wikipedia entry. Just saying.

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