Tony Wilson, co-founder of Factory Records and the man behind bands such as Joy Division, New Order, Charlatans UK and Happy Mondays (amongst others), died Friday at the age of 57. Much of his life as an indie music producer was chronicled in the 2002 film 24-Hour Party People.

Born Anthony H. Wilson on February 20, 1950 in Salford, England, he went on to become a renowned broadcast journalist, band manager, record label executive and nightclub owner.

As the Factory Records boss, he was responsible for signing legendary bands including Joy Division and New Order to his label.

Also, as owner of the renowned Hacienda nightclub in Manchester, he played a key role in the “Madchester” scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s that mixed indie rock and dance music and included artists such as Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses.

The Hacienda, which hosted Madonna’s first UK television appearance in 1983, was forced to close in the late 1990s as it was losing money allegedly because its patrons were taking ecstasy rather than buying drinks at the club.

Wilson reportedly became involved in the Manchester music scene in the 1970s when hosting the culture and music programme ‘So It Goes’ on Granada Television.

After covering a Sex Pistols performance at the Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall in June 1976, he described the experience as “nothing short of an epiphany” and booked the band for one of the first television broadcasts of British punk rock.

These aspects of Wilson’s life were later chronicled in the semi-fictional 2002 feature film ‘24 Hour Party People’, in which he was portrayed by British actor Steve Coogan.

More recently, Wilson was involved in In The City, a yearly music festival and conference that takes place in Manchester and New York City, which he co-founded with his partner Yvette Livesey.

In 2005 he launched F4, the fourth incarnation of the Factory Records label.

Earlier this year, the music mogul was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery to have one of his kidneys removed.

From signing the likes of Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays, to being a general support of exciting an innovative music, Wilson established himself as a true indie hero.



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