Tony Wilson  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

"Millionaire Tony Wilson's company Factory Records was one of the sponsors of the 1989 ICA exhibition (along with Beck's beer). Wilson also collected Situationist-linked artworks, including Debord's "Psychogeographical Map of Paris" (1953)."--Sholem Stein

Related e



Anthony Howard Wilson (20 February 195010 August 2007) was an English record label owner, radio presenter, TV show host, nightclub manager, impresario and journalist for Granada Television and the BBC. A semi-fictionalized version of his life and of the surrounding era was made into a 2002 film, 24 Hour Party People.


Early life

Wilson was born February 20, 1950, in Salford, Greater Manchester. Seeing a production of Hamlet extinguished Wilson's original ambition to be a nuclear physicist. He graduated with a third in English from Jesus College, Cambridge.

Broadcasting Career

Unlike many of his university contemporaries, Wilson returned home after graduation and began his career in regional television as a news reporter in the 1970s for Granada Television based in Manchester. He went on to present Granada's culture, music and what's on programme So It Goes. Through the 1980s and 1990s he was one of the main anchor presenters on Granada Reports, the regional early evening news programme, where he worked with Richard and Judy among other figures.

In the 1980s Wilson hosted The Other Side of Midnight, another Granada weekly regional 'culture' slot, covering music, literature, and the arts in general. Its Friday midnight slot made it one of the UK's first experiments in "late night" weekend TV. He was also the host of Channel 4's After Dark, the UK's first open ended late night chat show, in which he chaired a loose discussion in a darkened studio between intellectuals and celebrities of various descriptions in various stages of inebriation. He hosted the short-lived TV Quiz show Topranko! in the 1990s.

In 2006 he became the regional political presenter for BBC's Politics Show. He presents a weekly radio show on Xfm Manchester ("Sunday Roast"), and a show on BBC Manchester Radio.

Music Career

Wilson's involvement in popular music stems from hosting Granada's culture and music program So It Goes. Wilson saw the Sex Pistols at the Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall, in June, 1976, an experience which he has described as "nothing short of an epiphany" [1]. He booked them for the second series, probably the first television showing of the then-revolutionary British strand of punk rock.

He later founded the record label Factory Records and the Hacienda nightclub in Manchester.

He was the manager of many bands, including A Certain Ratio and The Durutti Column, and was part owner and manager of Factory Records, home of the Happy Mondays and Joy Division (later New Order) - the band managed by friend and business partner Rob Gretton. He also founded and managed the The Ha├žienda (FAC51) nightclub and Dry (FAC201) bar, together forming a central part of the music and cultural scene of Manchester which was recognised internationally as a hotbed of exciting music. The scene was termed "Madchester".

He never made a fortune from Factory Records or the Hacienda, despite the enormous popularity and cultural significance of both endeavours. Both came to an abrupt although not necessarily premature end in the late 1990s, the Hacienda being forced to close because of the out-of-control ecstasy problem at the club: the club never made profits because people took ecstasy instead of drinking alcohol.

A semi-fictionalized version of his life and of the surrounding era was made into a 2002 film, 24 Hour Party People, which stars the comedian Steve Coogan as Wilson. After the movie was produced, Wilson wrote a novelization based on the screenplay, despite being described on the movie poster as a "twat". He played a minor role in the 2005 film A Cock and Bull Story, in which his character interviews Steve Coogan (playing himself).


Wilson has been an outspoken proponent of regional self-government for the North West. In 2003 he started a campaign for the North West to be allowed a referendum on the creation of a regional assembly, called the Necessary Group after a line in the US Declaration of Independence. Although his campaign was successful, with the Government announcing that a vote would take place, this was later abandoned when the North East of England voted against the introduction of a regional tier of Government. Wilson has since spoken at several political events on this subject.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Tony Wilson" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools