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Steve Coogan on Tony Wilson


We all know Steve Coogan understood Tony Wilson well enough to came over as the Factory founder’s doppelganger in 24 Hour Party People. It probably makes sense then that Coogan also understood Wilson well enough to write one of the recently deceased music man’s most lovely tributes. The following is an excerpt from a piece that ran in the Manchester Evening News, today, Monday August 20th, the day of Tony Wilson’s funeral.

Tony was the apotheosis of those baby boomers who wanted to reach beyond their background and find the poetry in this post-industrial landscape. He gave confidence and legitimacy to an army of haltingly insecure men. Put simply, he showed it wasn’t poofy to wear nice clothes and use long words. But above all he was a true civic champion, who found excitement and creativity on his own doorstep. Under his stewardship, Manchester became and still is an alternative metropolis. That is his legacy.

Photos from the funeral can be found here. One imagines that Wilson would have appreciated the turnout of “nice clothes” as well as some of the flower tributes: a ‘From Love With Liverpool’ arrangement and, especially, the Fac 51 logo (aka the Hacienda). Writes Coogan,

There never was a last night party at the Hacienda. But with artistic licence, we recreated one for the film. Almost anyone who had a connection with the club was there. The real New Order, the actors playing New Order, The Happy Mondays, the actors playing them, Dave Haslam, Mike Pickering. The party continued into the early hours, long after filming had stopped.

Only one person didn’t turn up: Anthony H Wilson. I never knew why. Did he not want to cramp my style? Did he not want to say goodbye? Or was he already moving forward onto the next thing? Never being one to wallow in nostalgia. One thing is certain; he was conspicuous by his absence and always will be.

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