David Wood initially met the late Tony Wilson – known as ‘Tony Wilson’ in music industry and Anthony H. Wilson in the TV industry – in 1990 through the Manchester music scene. Tony was a music manager and co-owner of the legendary Factory Records label (which released music by the likes of the Happy Mondays, Joy Division and New Order); founded and ran Manchester’s famous Hacienda nightclub and the Dry Bar music venue; and his ‘In the City’ music festival and industry conference – where David sat on industry panels – was a key date in the music industry calendar.
After studying at Manchester’s School of Sound Recording, David had a small recording business called St Aubyns Sound Recordings that was doing work for the Oyston family’s Trans World Communications which got him more in to the Manchester music and media scene. Tony’s name was continually coming up from media contacts and from David’s mentor – Sir Denis Forman – who was Tony’s boss at Granada TV.
David’s first meeting with Tony was “bizarre”. After opening Promenade Music in 1989, a friend of David’s who worked in a Manchester music shop invited him to the launch party of a band called ‘Northside’ who had signed to Tony’s label. David ended up missing the gig, ended up in an indoor laser game place, met Tony…. and they “hit it off!”.
As a child, David had seen Tony a lot on television as he was an anchorman for a regional evening news programme called Granada Reports; and appeared on many of the music and culture programmes David watched as a teenager. David wrote in his 2013 Memories of Martin Hannett blog about when he finally met Tony. He was one of the most supportive people David had come across and all Tony wanted was for all Manchester businesses to do well. Tony would go out of his way to network for everyone’s success and David and Tony became close friends in the decade before Tony’s death in 2007.
In the first few years after David co-founded Faith & Hope records, Tony was supportive and “a great shoulder to cry on”. David and Tony had some wonderful times socially – both in the North of England and on their annual trips to Cannes – and Tony supported David professionaly and pushed him to do things he would have never done normally. Tony was a true music and media impresario and the central character in the ‘Madchester’ years of Manchester’s music scene.