Happy 65th Birthday – Tony Wilson

Today would have been Tony Wilsons 65th birthday.

I’ve just woken up in an East London Terrace to think that It only seems like yesterday that I was falling asleep in a North London terrace when 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 years down the line.

But today is different, today is joyous, he’d have been 65.  I can’t help thinking, “What would Tony have done on his 65th Birthday?”  It’d have been some party.  I wouldn’t have been invited because i never knew Tony.  I never spoke to Tony.

Who was i to talk to Tony Wilson?  Me, a lowly bedroom poet.  He seemed so distant, so intelligent and so knowledgeable.  He’d quote you Neitzsche for Breakfast, Marx for elevenses and Shoponhaur for tea.  No, I would never talk to Tony.  I didn’t have the confidence.

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 in 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”

Then it all just seemed to flow and the poem seemed to write itself and I’ve never looked back since

People loved the poem and importantly for me the professor and composer Joe Duddell loved it and wrote some classical music to accompany the poem.  Then Bernard From New Order Heard it and thought it was “Fuckin’ Brilliant” and invited me over to New York to perform it at Carnegie Hall with New Order and that’s where Iggy Pop heard it and thought it was “Awesome” Patti Smith heard it and loved it as did Matt Berninger from The National.  The day after the gig i got a phone call from Philip Glass asking me to “pop” around to his house in Manhattan for a chat.

He sat me on his piano stool by his piano and told me that he also loved the poem, my performance and the music and wanted to know if i would perform it live with him on a tour of Europe and at a festival he Curates in California every year.  How could i refuse?

Between me and you and don’t tell anyone, we are going to release it as a single very soon.  I’m not exactly sure when yet but it’s soon so keep your eyes peeled.  The music Joe has created is majestic and the Cassia Quartet who play the music are brilliant.  We have almost finished the greatest music video of all time to accompany it and we have an amazing remix (by the greatest remixer in the world) to go on the “B” side. But like i said, don’t tell anyone or i’ll be in trouble.

All the money raised from the sale of the single will go to The Christie who do loads of research in to that twenty first century plague we call Cancer.  It killed my Mam, it killed my beautiful thirteen year old nephew, loads of my mate, it killed Tony and it will probably kill you. So, keep your eyes open for the single and buy it when it’s released cos i find cancer a bit of a TWAT

but, like i said, don’t tell anyone i told you about it.

Here are the words to the poem and at the bottom of this blog is a link to the spoken word version of the poem.  It would be lovely of you shared it with your mates, family and friends – God Bless x

“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

5 thoughts on “Happy 65th Birthday – Tony Wilson

  1. Marvellous Manchester Northern soul but don’t forget the heart… Your book by my bedside and 24 hour party people played 🙂

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