The Tony Wilson Experience.

(And why many of the blessings of this blog flow from him.)

When Tony Wilson died of a heart attack last August, grieving friends of the broadcaster, Hacienda and Factory Records boss, were keen to pay a fitting tribute. They were conscious of two things; that memories fade fast, and statues get sat on by pigeons.

Peter Saville, the city of Manchester's creative director, took the lead, and came up with The Tony Wilson Experience. Billed as a 24-hour conversation, the aim of last Saturday's event was to keep the spirit of a late, great Mancunian alive, and to be a place where up and coming talents can pick the brains of successful creatives who knew Wilson.

The event took inspiration from Swiss art critic Hans Ulrich Obrist's 24 Hour Interview Marathon, which Saville attended at the Serpentine Gallery in 2006.

Among those that took part in the "24-hour conversation were novelist Irvine Welsh, Charlatans front man Tim Burgess, author Simon Armitage, Creation Records founder Alan McGee, broadcaster Stuart Maconie, comedy actor Steve Coogan, and New Order bassist Peter Hook."

Saville's relationship with Wilson began in early 1978. At the time Saville was a 22 year-old art student, admittedly envious of his friend Malcolm Garrett, who was already designing NME ads for Buzzcocks.

Saville pestered Buzzcocks' manager, Richard Boon, for a design opportunity, and was pointed in Wilson's direction.

Manchester had already established a reputation as a great venue for punk gigs, and Wilson was starting a club night that would ride the new wave. Saville would eventually meet Wilson at Granada Studios, and show him the Jan Tschichold work that inspired him. Wilson gave him a shot.

Saville says they only realised they were 'best friends' in the late Nineties. Saville describes Factory as like the solar system, "You have to make Tony, unfortunately, the sun," he jokes. "His personality, energy and enthusiasm were the mass that brought other people into orbit around him."

Saville says: "Without Tony the last quarter century would have been very different; you take away a big part of the city's psychological regeneration. He made Manchester relevant to several generations of young people worldwide. Tony's name will be as synonymous with Manchester as Rylands or Chetham - more so because he was accessible. The memory of Tony Wilson will continue to resonate and continue because it's the last true story in pop."

Why, Waist High, do you speak about Tony Wilson so much? Ah, I'm glad you asked. Tony Wilson, inspired by a gig in Manchester in 1976, went on to form
Factory Records, and was hugely instrumental in the development of the music that forms the basis of this blog.

Wilson was in the audience on Jun. 4, 1976, at Manchester's Lesser Free Trade Hall, for a Sex Pistols gig that some refer to as, "The Gig That Changed the World." The concert "has become legendary as a catalyst to the punk rock movement and New Wave."

David Nolan, author of I Swear I Was There: The Gig That Changed The World, says of the 1976 event, "It's because it's one of those moments in popular culture whereby you can put your finger on it and say: that was it, that was the day, that was the time, that was the year that was the precise moment when everything took a left turn. And that is the music that we're listening to now, the clubs we have in Manchester, the way we buy records, the independent music scene, basically came out of that audience."

In a clip from 24 Hour Party People, with Steve Coogan as Wilson, you my fine reader can catch a small glimpse of Tony Wilson's role in the changing of
the world. Go there now, you'll begin to understand.

Photo & material: manchestereveningnews.co.uk, manchester.com, & wikipedia.org

David Nolan quote via: bbc.co.uk