One of the most underrated bands in British music history, modern music has a lot to thank The Stones Roses for. Whether it’s Ian Brown’s snarling attitude or John Squire’s masterful command of the guitar, in many ways, The Stone Roses paved the way.
With their baggy sound, the band took a morose and modernising Manchester music scene and flipped it firmly on its head. One person that hugely annoyed was arguably the Lord of that very scene, Tony Wilson.
Wilson was a well-known TV presenter and owner of Factory Records. Factory, as well as owning the Hacienda in Manchester, also helped bring the talents of Joy Division, A Certain Ratio and later New Order to the masses. The record label is famed for its support of the Manchester music scene yet Wilson took a disliking to The Stone Roses.
Back then, with minimal opportunities to be heard outside of your local pub or radius of demo-soliciting, if you weren’t friends with Tony you weren’t going to make the big time. That’s because with his countless opportunities on magazine-style shows, Wilson could promote his favourite acts – who were largely Factory acts. With his segments for new music on So It Goes he offered the aforementioned groups a chance to shine and prosper.
The magazine show Other Side of Midnight was another such show and offered Wilson yet another segment to promote his acts. ” I should never do a full music show because I would simply play my own groups – just about every other music is complete crap,” he once told NME. “I’m very happy if people think, ‘Oh, Wilson’s putting his own stuff on.’ It makes me look a nasty person and I find that an amusing image to have.”
A businessman to the end, Wilson was never shy about putting himself before the public. But, to his credit, he was also capable of admitting when he was wrong. That takes us to the first show of the year 1989 and after actively working against The Stone Roses for so many years, he invited them on the show to perform their new track ‘Waterfall’.
We’ll let Tony Wilson take it from here: “A Manchester group whose rock and roll stance I have seriously disliked for 4 or 5 or 6 years. Never had any time for the group, then a couple of months ago a drummer called Ringo Star (the other one) made me listen to a single which I absolutely loved. It turned out to be them. The Stone Roses. ’89 begins then, with a complete admission of error on my part. Huge apologies… The Stone Roses.”