Factory Records Founder Tony Wilson Dies
Fri, 10 Aug 2007 14:26:43
The man who introduced the world to punk rock on television, Joy Division on record and The Happy Mondays on the dancefloor has died today at the age of 57. Tony Wilson, the founder and owner of his Manchester-based label Factory Records, passed at approximately 7pm GMT today at Christie Hospital in Manchester, England, surrounded by friends and family.
The cause of death is reported as being a heart attack, though Wilson had also been battling kidney cancer since his diagnosis in 2006. Wilson's doctor, Robert Hawkins, has said of his patient's death, "It's very sad. He died as a result of something unrelated to his cancer. His cancer was responding well to treatment but obviously did contribute to his poor health."
Wilson first got his start as a television presenter on British television's Granada TV where he covered local Manchester news and events. However, one of his first visionary accomplishments was producing and hosting a music show called So It Goes, which featured then little-known acts like The Sex Pistols and The Buzzcocks.
After getting a taste for the music scene, Wilson started his own record label called Factory Records and the first band he signed—with a contract written in his own blood—was Joy Division. After the death of the band's lead singer, Ian Curtis, Wilson and Factory soldiered on. Wilson added new bands to his label, most notably a Manchester band called The Happy Mondays. With their combination of world music beats, electronic samples and a drug-heavy lifestyle, the band was the catalyst for what became the "Madchester" scene.
To accommodate the rising scene, Wilson opened what might be his most lasting contribution, The Hacienda. This legendary nightclub was the epicentre of the early '90s music scene. Though hugely popular, the club made no profits and was forced to close its doors in 1997. Factory Records was also forced to close, despite having huge success with New Order—the band the remaining members of Joy Division began after Curtis' death—and their chart-topping single "Blue Monday."
More recently, Wilson was instrumental in The Happy Mondays' reunion tour and album. He even introduced the band before their performance at this year's Coachella festival—watch him doing what he did best.
—The ARTISTdirect Staff