While Americans grieve the loss of Merv Griffin, the folks across the pond are mourning an icon of their own: Factory Records founder Tony Wilson died of cancer on Friday. He was 57 years old. The man behind New Order and Happy Mondays, he is largely credited with sparking the Manchester music scene in the late ’70s and turning the city into an international cultural capital. Here’s a roundup of tributes:
- NME‘s obit, plus a tribute from New Order drummer Stephen Morris.
- Pitchfork has compiled several video interviews and live appearances Wilson made.
- A clip of Steve Coogan playing Wilson in 24 Hour Party People.
- Coogan pays his own tribute to Wilson: “I’ve got a kind of respect for Tony Wilson. He was a genuine maverick, a genuine pioneer, someone who wanted to do things differently. However, he’s a complicated person. There are moments of pretentiousness about him.”(NME)
- The Guardian‘s John Harris measures Wilson’s impact:
At a time when the British music industry – as now – was absurdly London-centered and establishing an independent record label in Manchester was a fantastically foolhardy move, he and his friends did it. When Manchester was on its economic uppers, they really did think that turning an old dry-dock into a vast club-cum-venue – The Haçienda, for those too young to remember – was a good idea, and endured vast losses, before it became world-renowned. In the high days of 1988-90, Manchester really was the center of the UK’s pop culture. And these days, you really can draw lines from Manchester’s reinvention as a culture-driven urban success story to the visions Wilson and co were outlining – and putting into practice – two decades ago.
- Alan McGee, who fashioned himself as the Tony Wilson of the late ’80s, honors his hero:
Wilson was a music legend to fans and to bands. Factory Records was always a touchstone for me at Creation Records, with their 50/50 deals and great artwork: in we tried, but he suceeded. He was a true visionary and a genius music maverick.
- Simon over at No Rock And Roll Fun remembers a personal encounter with Wilson:
He sat himself down at a table where a few of us were fortifying ourselves before a day talking about the digital future of music, and it was immediately apparent how he was able to carry so many people with him on the most hare-brained of schemes. He didn’t just sit down, he held court, making a (seemingly) convincing case that to stay in business, record companies would need to embrace the obsessive fan – he used an example of somebody who wanted to be sure the resins used on reproduction covers were the same as the ones used on the original. And then he was off again. Working the room. Running the show.
- Wilson’s hometown paper, The Manchester Evening News, collects tributes.
Chart news: sites like Popjustice have been campaigning to win Swedish pop star Robyn a No. 1 hit with her single, “With Every Heartbeat.” And lo and behold, they’ve achieved it. Pretty astonishing for a midtempo song with no chorus or melodic hook. Kanye West‘s “Stronger,” which features a sample from a Daft Punk song, is this week’s only new entry.
Watch the video
In other news:
- Now, looky here: it’s the new Girls Aloud video, “Sexy! No No No.” Like the song itself, it’s totally absurd, erotic, and amazing.
- So Nadine Coyle and Jesse Metcalfe are back together? The Sun has photos of the Girls Aloud singer and the Desperate Housewives hunk in L.A. sharing “a kiss and a cuddle.”
- Wow, this Stephen Belafonte guy is making Eddie Murphy look like a real Prince Charming. Mel B.’s new hubby is not only an admitted woman-beater, he’s also a self-professed animal abuser. New Jersey authorities have issued a warrant for his arrest over the brutal killing of a duck, reports The Sun. “The film producer, 32, admitted killing the mallard with a brick outside his house in Point Pleasant, but fled to Los Angeles without paying a £300 ($600) court fine.”
- Amy Winehouse is true to her word: they tried to make her go to rehab and well, you get where I’m going. Declaring rehab a “cop-out,” Winehouse instead spent a weekend holed up in a hotel with her family. The Sun reports that things got a bit ugly between Amy’s dad Mitch and her father-in-law, Giles. “Mitch grabbed Giles by the throat after he suggested Amy was to blame for her own meltdown.”
- Winehouse has cancelled two concerts she was set to do with The Rolling Stones. (BBC)
- In a webchat with fans, Pete Doherty said he’s off the smack. Doesn’t Pete look like he’s now channeling Peter Lorre, by the way?
- Remember Connie Talbot, the six-year-old chanteuse who moved the judges to tears on Britain’s Got Talent? She didn’t win the show, but Simon Cowell offered her a recording deal anyway. However, he has since rescinded the offer, claiming the girl is just too young. Talbot’s mother tells The Daily Mail, “It was a shock. Connie really could not understand and asked me: ‘Does Simon not like my singing any more?’ They have left her with nothing. We have been told Simon and his management team think she is too young, but she is the same age as when she first appeared on the show.”
- He may date supermodels and hang with the likes of Lindsay Lohan, but James Blunt really doesn’t like all of the attention: “I don’t understand celebrities who want to draw attention to themselves. It’s a kind of weird addiction. I never went out to get noticed. I really set out to be a musician and the rest of it just came along by mistake.”(The Sun)
- Oasis will release a double DVD documentary titled Lord Don’t Slow Me Down this October. According to MTV, “The double DVD follows the band during a year on the road and has been directed by music video man Baillie Walsh, who has worked with Kylie and Massive Attack.”
- Alan McGee had to be joshing with us when he harshly dismissed My Bloody Valentine‘s career in a recent Guardian column, right? The Guardian‘s James Wignall says that has to be the only explanation:”It may simply be that, like all music legends, McGee is something of a paradox: the guy who signed Oasis is the same guy who signed Jesus and Mary Chain, manages the awe-inspiring Mogwai and only a couple of weeks ago was praising (quite rightly) the unfettered gonzo noise of Pissed Jeans. McGee is also a punk at heart, and knows that wildly misguided/offensive/ridiculous/contradictory statements make rock and roll more fun.”
- It took death threats from fans to make Sugababes singer Amelle Berrabah dump her boyfriend Freddie Fuller, who is currently facing charges for an alleged rape. Amelle’s sister tells The Mirror: “Amelle has been going through a really tough time getting death threats and abuse because of her relationship with Freddie. She even had the tires slashed on her car. She wants to make it clear that their relationship is over. She told me they have split for good and she doesn’t want to be with him anymore.”
- Last Thursday, a Seattle woman took extreme measures to stop a man from singing Coldplay‘s 2002 anthem “Yellow” at a karaoke bar. “As the unnamed man took the stage to sing the song, a woman reportedly declared: ‘Oh no, not that song. I can’t stand that song!’ She then leaped at the would-be singer, shouted expletives at him and told him his singing ‘sucked’, while expressing the same opinion of the song, according to a Seattle police report. She pushed the man and punched him, all in an effort to stop his singing.”(NME)