TONY WILSON: TRIBUTE AND LEGACY

August 14, 2017 10:48 am | Thought provoking blogs |

If you picture London, you might immediately conjure up images of London Bridge or Buckingham Palace. Visualise Paris, and it might be the Eiffel Tower. Perhaps the Brandenburg Gate for Berlin or the Coliseum for Rome.

Tony Wilson, a cultural hero for our city and our team

In Manchester, we have more than our fair share of extraordinary architecture but there’s just one face that epitomises late 20th century Manchester Culture: Anthony H Wilson who died 10 years ago this month.

A nightclub manager and record label owner, he was also a journalist for the BBC and ITV Granada, an impresario, the driving force behind numerous bands of the ‘Madchester’ era and an outspoken advocate for both Manchester and the North West. Dubbed ‘Mr Manchester’ by the media, he didn’t just leave an indelible mark on the city’s identity, he had a huge impact on popular culture, broadcasting and the ambition of the regions UK-wide.

So what’s the legacy of this much-fêted Renaissance man a decade after his untimely death at the age of just 57?

Tony Wilson, a pivotal figure in our region’s ambition

While the famous Haçienda nightclub is now a block of city centre apartments, the myth of that club and its iconic place in Manchester’s music and club culture lives on. The music produced by Factory Records still fills dancefloors, The Haçienda continues with club nights at FAC 251, the venue that’s been established in the record label’s former offices, and the influence of those pioneering days of pop is clear in today’s breakthrough artists.

But Tony Wilson’s influence reaches much further. It goes beyond the graffiti images of his face across numerous Manchester locations and the square – Tony Wilson Place – named after him beside Manchester’s arts venue, @HOME_mcr

A decade after Tony Wilson’s death, what’s his legacy?

His wider legacy defines the ambition of a city and a region to make an impact on a national and international scale. His influence contributed to resurgence of Manchester as a commercial and cultural centre, it’s integral to the concept of a Northern Powerhouse and central to the vision of a city that not only embraces change but drives it.

As Tony Wilson famously said ‘some people make money and some make history’. His history still inspires those shaping the North West today – its culture, its economy and its built environment – and his epitaph epitomises his place in its future: “Change alone is changeless/ People drop out of the history of a life as of a land, though their work or their influence remains.”

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