Tony Wilson


This is the tribute speech by Pete Tong on BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix two weeks after Tony Wilson’s death.

“This is a special essential mix for a very special man. My experiences of this man were never less than remarkable. Polite in an old English manner but so full of belief, self-assurance and confidence, it was almost overwhelming when you were in his presence. Never uncomfortable to champion the contrary point of view and if your cause was his mission then he’d make you feel absolutely brilliant.

“When the In The City conference started in 1992, The Haçienda was already legendary. It had been four years since the Second Summer of Love but this guy was still on a mission. And he pulled me aside in the reception of the hotel where the conference was being held to tell me how important my role was in this circus, how we still had to battle the authorities, the media and the conventional music business. Five minutes with Tony was all you needed to put yourself on track. Tony was like a sci-fi politician. In some ways he was, I suppose, the self-appointed president of the city of Manchester.

“In the closing paragraph of Paul Morley’s tribute to Tony in The Observer recently, he sums up the man brilliantly: ‘Without Wilson there may well have been in some form Joy Division, and Factory, and New Order, and the Hacienda, and Happy Mondays. There may well have been Peter Saville’s dream designs, and Martin Hannett’s timeless production, and a Manchester that managed to move on from its sad post-industrial decline. But none of it would have been so far-fetched, so dramatic and so fantastic without Tony Wilson.’

“So put together by me, Pete Tong, and The Haçienda DJ Mike Pickering, this mix celebrates the man behind those great bands and that great club The Haçienda. The man who contributed so much to electronic and club music in UK sadly passed away. We hope you enjoy this essential mix of the very best from Factory Records and The Haçienda, especially tonight for Tony Wilson.”

– Pete Tong, August 2007