Saturday, October 3, 2009

'You're Entitled to an Opinion...' by David Nolan

 'You're Entitled to an Opinion...' (The high times and many lives of Tony Wilson, Factory Records and The Hacienda) is David Nolan's excellent and comprehensive biography of Tony Wilson.

The book covers Wilson's life, or rather his extra-ordinary double-life; by day a TV presenter at Granada Studios, and by night boss of perhaps the most influential record label of modern times in Factory Records, and the most famous UK venue/club in The Hacienda. Apparently The Hacienda only started booking DJ's as they were cheaper than bands and the rest is history! The music side of Wilson's life has been documented elsewhere but it was interesting to read of his sometimes fiery relationships with his Granada TV bosses, his later jobs with Channel 4 and the BBC.

Also covered in depth are his personal relationships, first with Lindsay Reade, then Hilary Wilson, who bore his two children and finally Yvette Livesey. Hilary Wilson was knifed on her doorstep by a crazed fan, which perhaps explains her virtual non-appearance as a character in the movie '24 hour party people'. Yvette Livesey shared Tony's love for music and still runs the 'In the City' music conference.

Wilson contracted kidney cancer in his final years and the disease had spread to his stomach and lungs by the time a prognosis was made. There was hope with a new wonder drug called Sutent, but ironically the drug was not available in Manchester due to it's high cost. Wilson campaigned for it's availability, not just for himself but others who suffered from the disease. Interestingly, the NHS value the cost of one year of life to be 30,000 GBP. Eventually, the drug was purchased anonymously for Wilson but it was too late and Wilson died August 10th 2007.

The last chapter covers the famous FAC catalog numbers, which include FAC61 - A lawsuit brought by Factory Producer Martin Hannett to get the label closed; FAC99 - Dental work for Rob Gretton (Joy Division and New Order manager) and FAC501 - Anthony H. Wilson's funeral and coffin (complete with silver FAC501 plate.)

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