23 Aug 2007
FAC 501 
Colin Sharp, author of 'Who Killed Martin Hannett?' and regular contributor on the Cerysmatic Factory Message Board, writes about Tony Wilson's funeral:

It was a very well organised event that felt as though Tony himself had made the arrangements right down to the post modern, transparent plastic invites with a Fac-like number on them.

Those invited congregated at the Midland Hotel and it was clear from that point onwards that Tony’s two worlds - the day job at Granada and the passionate hobby that was Factory Records - were well represented. There were plenty of ageing Punk Rockers, post-punk conceptualists, younger artistes and many Media types, as well as family and friends.

At 1.30 everyone drifted to the Hidden Gem in the heart of Manchester. The press and public were kept back as the invited processed into the lovely old church. This was going to be a catholic requiem mass.

And indeed it was. Tony had returned to his childhood religion, which perhaps he had never really left ('once a catholic...') and at points it did seem somewhat incongruous, especially when the priest was trying to persuade us that Catholicism was the only true religion!

The eulogies were given by an Irish friend who spoke of Tony's childhood holidays in Ireland and his surrogate family; praise from Manchester City Council for Tony’s huge contribution to the cultural life of Greater Manchester; a moving, witty and sincere testament to Tony’s friendship from Richard Madeley and finally a laconic, dry, urbane and charming tribute from one of the few remaining partners of Factory Records - Peter Saville.

For me the most moving moment was when Tony’s coffin was carried off by the pall bearers who included Alan Erasmus and Tony's son Oliver, and Joy Division's epic, Hannett-produced meisterwerk - 'Atmosphere' - played with those prescient, poignant lyrics -

"Don't walk away... in Silence".

And the rest is Silence.

Many thanks to Colin for sharing his thoughts with us.


Tony Wilson was buried in Southern Cemetery - to the left as Rob is to the right (correct in religio-football terms). The coffin was numbered. FAC 501. The last catalogue number. So it goes.


The wake was held at One Central Street in Manchester City Centre. Jon DaSilva DJ'd with Arthur Baker.

Someone remembered that Hooky pointed at Wilson at Rob Gretton's memorial 'And You Forgotten' and said "Who's next? You! Nah, we all know it's fucking Tony Wilson don't we!?", thus everyone avoided Hooky's gaze. Hooky pointed out that the invite-only memorial was "pretty boring" compared to Rob's free-for-all. Others bemoaned the use of 'Atmosphere' when Wilson had wanted 'Ceremony'.

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Biting Tongues

In the grey days of late 1970s post-punk Manchester, youth culture was a serious affair: every musical performance was measured mostly by the conviction of its delivery. The term 'New Wave' opened up free vistas where acquired skills could once again be exercised after punk's monochrome blur. It could be applied to anything from a James 'Blood' Ulmer record to the latest Throbbing Gristle release, Magazine to Swell Maps. Move outside that terrain into Sun Ra, Parliament, Frank Sinatra and Martin Denny, and your options were suddenly without limit...

Then came Tony Wilson's Factory Club (at the Russell Club in Hulme) offering an open invitation to experiment that was taken up when Ken Hollings, Howard Walmsley, Eddie Sherwood and a few others decided to make some noise to accompany their 16mm silent epic Biting Tongues. A further performance followed a few weeks later, when Colin Seddon and Graham Massey disbanded their Post Natals project and joined up. The film itself, a flashing series of negative images, became a memory; the name remained.

- extract from the LTM Biting Tongues biography

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