I’d met Tony Wilson properly in 1978 when he was at Granada TV and one of the anchors on their local news program. Within the format they used to have a What’s On section which Tony presented……. which strangely enough was about what was on in the area regarding music, the arts etc. Tony had been and gone with So it Goes, Granada’s attempt to oust the BBC from their dominance of music on television…… more detail to come when I approach music on television, a worthy topic in itself, and something I remember fondly because of the people in television it introduced me to.
So it Goes had started in the summer of 1976 and had a second series run in 1977 only to see December bring it’s last ever show. When Iggy behaved rather outrageously and Granada was fending off criticism from the network Tony too was done with it and agreed it had run it’s course. With Granada being a TV station governed by advertising it was always treading dangerous waters. To give them their credit they always were more adventurous than nearly anyone out there for many years before and after So it Goes.
What Granada did and Tony especially was to break all the rules, it was anarchic and certainly the right show at the right time. I think more than anything what it did do was give Tony a buzz and make him want to be part of the scene that was developing. With his partner Alan Erasmus they started the Factory club in legendary outskirts of Manchester that was Hulme…..I say legendary because less than 100 yards away was the BBC Playhouse where I took U2 for their first UK radio session. In 1962 this was where The Beatles recorded their first radio session too, and the first time they wore those Beatle jackets! It was an old Victorian music hall, and although I’m not positive I think The Beatles played in front of an audience……..can you only imagine what it would have been like being there. I say that because I was familiar with what an incredible building it was and throw in it was the start of the sixties…..wow but 9 was far too young for my mum and dad to let me be out late!
I think Tony and Alan were captivated by CBGB’s in New York and the Velvet Underground, Talking Heads, The Ramones…..all the stuff that So it Goes had exposed him to. Prior to that Tony was in to Van Morrison , Neil Young,Jackson Browne, Leonard Cohen and brilliant as these guys were this was something totally different and very visual with it. I love Van the Man, but the word visual doesn’t always spring to mind….. They wanted somewhere to put bands on and managed to get a Friday night at The Russell Club which became The Factory for that one night……Andy Warhol recreated in their own home town. There were some amazing nights there, although I do remember wondering if my car had been stolen each time I went to a gig there…..something that later on happened once again every time I went to The Apollo in Ardwick.
Joy Division played there in October 1978 and I remember Tony turning plugger on me. After I’d been bending his ear about putting the B52′s, Grace Jones, Eddie and The Hot Rods n all on TV he was now telling me I had to come down to his new club….not only that he’d put me on the door…..and all I was thinking was that I was terrified I’d have my car nicked. I’m glad I relented.