Anthony Howard Wilson (February 20th 1950 – August 10th 2007)

August 10th is the anniversary of Anthony H. Wilson’s death. 

Six years ago tonight I was sat in a house in a North London terrace and my phone rang.  It was Lemn Sissay.

“Mike, Tony’s dead” – No intro, no hello, no how are you just that ace Mancunian, Wiganish, Leighish twang that Lemn has saying “Tony Wilson’s dead”

I turned on the TV to see Mark E Smith and Paul Morley on Newsnight confirming what Lemn had said “Tony Wilson’s dead.” 

I kept repeating the words over and over in silence and aloud

“Tony Wilson’s dead”

“Tony Wilson’s dead,”

The words seemed so incongruous and reluctant to sit side by side

“Tony Wilson’s dead” and they echoed and they are still echoing six years down the line.


I’d never spoke to Tony, words were never exchanged (Tony talk to me) I shared his company many times but could never find words that warranted sound, so I kept them to myself, a rare thing for me.


Tony did some amazing things.  He changed the landscape of Manchester and beyond but I’m not going to sit here and say how much of an ace guy he was because he wasn’t.  He made mistakes in his life.  He wasn’t an angel or a saint.  Sometimes he was a knob head and did knob headish things like we all do.  But what I do know is this, Manchester was a dark place for me to grow up but when Tony got involved, he seemed to turn a light on, he made the sun come out.


Soon after tony died, Terry Christian phoned me up

“Mike, the BBC has asked me to do a radio show about Tony and his life.  Will you do a poem for it?”

How could I refuse?

I had a week and spent a lot of time researching Factory, the Hacienda and dredging through my own memories of Tony and I was amazed how much he had influenced my life without ever speaking directly to me.  (Zeitgeist talk to me)

Then I remembered something my mother taught me as a child …….”Michael, if you ever lose anything say this prayer and St Anthony will find it for you.”


“St Anthony St Anthony

Please come round

Something is lost that can not be found”


And it seemed so apt and appropriate. 


Here are the words to the poem.









“St Anthony St Anthony

Please come round

Something is lost that can not be found”




Talk to me of Albion Anderton and art

The Arndale

Alan Turin

Acid House

Alexandra Park


Bez the Buzzcocks bouncing bombs

The beautiful Busby Babes


Cancer Christies Catholicism

Crack and Curt Cocaine


Talk to me of all these things and one thing is for certain

I’ll see the face I’ll hear the voice of Anthony H Wilson


Dance Design Devotto Durrutti

Development of an industrial dirty Northern City

De La Salle


And how in the end you hated the pity


Elvis Engels ecstasy

A girl called Emmeline

The hours I spent watching you on my black and white TV.

From So It Goes To Sunday Roast




Elephants washed by dwarves on 70’s TV




Factory fame financial fuck ups

Poetic Form

The Fall

4/6/76 at the lesser Free Trade hall


Talk to me

Talk to me

Of Gretton God Granada

Hooky and Hannett

And how the fighting just got harder

Hamlet Ibsen The IRA

Jesus Mary and Keith Joseph

Joy Division


The importance of the moment





Lust for Life

Louis Louis

Linnaeus Banks





And Karl Marx



Night Clubs new bands New Order Oppenheimer

Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark

Topical Late night intellectual chat shows like

The other side of midnight and After Dark


Talk to me of all these things and one thing is for certain

I’ll hear the Salford Cambridge TONES of Anthony H Wilson


Talk to me of Peterloo of praxis police and pride

Talk to me of Pontius Pilot of Power Corruption and lies

The Queen the queers the quiet ones all shy and self and effacing

Like Morrissey but not Mark E Smith or Shaun Ryder when he’s been free basing


Johnny Rotten


Richard and Judy

Vinnie Reilly

The stupid yellow circular face now known simply as a smiley

Righteous rebellious red ridiculous

Rochdale and Regent road

I want to hear the sound of the Salford soft boy moan and moan

Tony Talk to me in the sacristy of a Salford De La Salle

Of preachers and poets, professors and philosophers

Tony talk or you’ll leave me sad



Shaw the Smiths Stone Roses

That smile so smug the swagger


I want to hear it from the mouth of an honest hardworking Blagger


Talk to me of Sex pistols Substance

The streets the sounds

The sniffed and snorted stolen swigged multi million pounds

Tony talk to me of the greatest ever Man United team

Was it

Greg, Burns, Jones, Taylor, Robson and Roy Keane

Best , Law, Charlton, Stiles and Eric Cantona

Unknown Pleasures of the Treble

Incantation from the stars


Talk to me half pissed

Talk to me half stoned

Talk to me as a boy when I’m sat in my Fallowfield council home


Talk to me on the telly

Talk to me on the radio

Talk to me at the opening of some arty Farty show


Talk of vision virgin victory and violence

Don’t leave me sat in the Hidden Gem listening to the buzz of silence


Talk to me of Warsaw

Drug wars and trendy flats within warehouses

But when it comes to footy Tony – don’t talk to me about the scousers


X Ray Spex

X Ray tests

X Ray therapy

X wife chats on XFM

The best youth worker I’ve ever seen


Yin and Yang

Your master plan of an independent North scene


Yoric Yonkers

Youth club banter

Yeats – come and talk to me

Tony Talk to Me


Zeitgeist talk to me

Wilson talk to me




I remember turning up at the BBC on Oxford Road in Manchester (Now a Car Park) to record the poem and the look on Terry Christians face as I started going through it in the recording studio.  He looked shocked and a bit stunned.

I got the same reaction from a packed crowd in a tent outside Urbis when I performed it at the Tony Wilson experience on the first anniversary of his death.  Elliot Rashman stunned to silence and Peter Saville in tears and later saying on live TV that it was the highlight of the whole 24 hours Conversation.

I’ve been touring with John Cooper Clarke for over two years now and I’m amazed by the reception this poem gets whenever and wherever I perform it.  I did it at the London Palladium in June and it is probably the loudest roar I have ever heard after a poem in my life.


I am constantly being asked to put it to music and by some amazingly talented musicians but refused to for over 5 years…………until I was approached by Ali Hudson, Joe Duddells Manager.  I knew Joe through the work he’d done with Elbow, Richard Hawley, Jimmy Goodwin, James, The Charlatans and many more and always admired what he had achieved marrying classical compositions with modern music.  So we met, he shared some of his ideas sat outside the Hotel Du Vin in Bristol and I loved them.


We went into a studio in July and made a recording of the poem with an amazing classical string quartet and I’m very proud of what we have achieved and I think Tony would like it as well.


We plan to release it to raise money for a cancer charity and we’ve had a lot of interest from record labels, musicians, fellow artists and festival organisers and all I want to say at this stage is that the cast of people involved and giving their support to this musical collaboration is epic. However, we also believe that a watertight plan of how and when we release Saint Anthony is very important so, hold tight, keep your eye on this space and I promise that you will not be disappointed but to keep you happy in the meantime, here’s a spoken word version of the poem and God Bless Anthony Howard Wilson and all his family.




6 thoughts on “Anthony Howard Wilson (February 20th 1950 – August 10th 2007)

  1. I also remember the day I heard about Tony’s death. I’d just driven past Shaun Ryder, sat outside our local (he lived round the corner from me at the time). He looked really down. I only found out why later.
    There are certain points in my life I remember as if they had happened yesterday. The announcement of the death of John Lennon killed a part of me. Hearing about Tony had the same effect.
    He’d always been there. On TV, around the music scene I was into. He’d been to school with my brother, I’d encountered him at various events. I once saved him from my mum at Manchester Airport when he was working and she’s going ‘Tony! Tony! Johanna’s here!’
    And then I remember the day I first heard your poem. On Xfm. It stopped me in my tracks. I got my kids out of bed and searched for it on the Internet so they could hear it, read it.
    To this day the words give me goosebumps. It is about me, my fellow Mancunians, it encaptures everything.
    Every Mancunians school kid should be shown this. It should be every school morning prayer.
    Every other school kid in the country should read it and weep, for not being Manc.
    Thank you Mike x

  2. Mike, I’ve just read this poem out loud to Jane who is fighting a gruelling battle with cancer.

    I love my Manchester and (like most of your work does to me ) I was reduced to tears as I read your poem.

    “Don’t cry” she said.

    “Why not” I replied “I’m happy”.

    Good man! God is a Manc and he looks after us — in strange ways — but he looks after us.


  3. I was blown away by this the first time I heard it – in the rain in Manchester years ago – . I’m here because I was searching the internet to find out who’d written it. I wanted to ask if I could use it for a book of short stories and poems I’m compiling for the NSPCC, I didn’t realise how famous it was!!. Anyway, I guess this isn’t the best place to discuss it, but if Mike could email me that would be brilliant. No worries if not, I guess you must get inundated with requests. Thank you

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