Today, 20 February, marks the birthdays of both Factory Records pioneer Tony Wilson (RIP), who would have been 69, and Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown, who turns 56.
Wilson is reported to have once remarked that if you “gave 1,000 monkeys guitars and Jimi Hendrix songbooks, they’d eventually emerge sounding like the Stone Roses”. While Ian and the rest of the band never worked with Wilson directly, either before or after the Roses’ split, both of them are somewhat joined at the musical hip, as this interview from Granada TV’s The Works, from 2001, illustrates.
Chatting in front of a roaring fire, in what could only be described as ‘medieval’ surroundings, the two discuss fame, the Sex Pistols, singing style, Bruce Lee, and the journey that took them to this point in time.
At one point, Brown is asked how he and the band felt appearing on The Other Side Of Midnight, one of Wilson’s many shows for Granada, in January 1989, performing Waterfall, an appearance that catapulted them into the stratosphere.
“We were made up,” is the singer’s reply. “I think we were pretty moody that day, because we were nervous. […] It sounded good, Cressa looked good. It was the first time we had been in a proper studio, that was all white.”
There’s also room for a bit of humour; commenting on the then-new single F.E.A.R., Wilson asks Brown at one point “What are you prepared to do to make it a hit?”
“I’ll only do what I feel comfortable doing,” is Brown’s reply. “I did an interview recently for Q Magazine, and they suggested that they take my picture halfway up this 2,000 year old tree. It’s a big, beautiful tree, so I thought, ‘why not?’ When I got the article, there’s me half way up a tree and the headline says: ‘Barking’…”
The clip is also worth watching for Wilson’s intro alone, from atop a Cheshire hillside.
“The American writer Hunter S Thompson has this great line about how if you stand on a hilltop outside Las Vegas and look west, you can see the very point at which the tide of the Sixties finally stopped and began to ebb backwards,” he explains.
“If you stand on THIS hill, outside Runcorn, and look north, you can see the very point at which the thrill and the vigour of late 80s British youth culture reached its high water mark, before ebbing backwards into the flotsam of Britpop and fizzy pop… Spike Island, Widnes.”
We’ll never see his likes again. RIP Anthony H Wilson.