1. His ’13 year cycle’ theory
In his own words:
“I used to have this 13 year cycle theory that British youth culture exploded every three years. It wasn’t much but I noticed that the Beatles happened in 1963, then punk in 1976 and ’89 was acid house. Then someone pointed out that if you go back 13 years from ’63 you get teddy boy. Anyway, it suddenly made some kind of sense.”
2. His television career
As one of the main anchors on Granada Reports throughout the 70s and 80s Wilson brought charm, guts and intelligence to regional television news, despite the parochialism and idiosyncrasies that fill such airspace. Juggling his television career alongside Factory (even at the height of its success), Wilson would feature music heavily, always with a patented over-intellectualised prodding, but he showed charm and a total respect for the many citizens of Manchester who would also feature.
3. In The City
Renowned as “one of the great spotters of music talent”, Wilson initially helped set up In the City in 1992. The UK’s largest and most influential forum for finding new talent and discussing the future of the industry – Oasis, Radiohead and Suede played at the first In the City and year after year helps launch almost every major British act. Liverpool Sound City and Brighton’s Great Escape are just two similar events inspired by the initiative.
4. When he broke punk
The Sex Pistols‘ television debut came at the behest of Wilson on his Granada TV show So it Goes. Wilson had seen the band play their legendary show at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester; y’know, the one where Morrissey, Mark E Smith and, erm, Mick Hucknall were inspired to form bands. Lydon’s motley crew were exposed to the mainstream for the first time while hanger on Jordan stood at the side of the stage sporting a swastika armband.
Wilson’s show ran for two seasons before winding up at the end of 1977. A month later, Wilson formed a partnership with unemployed actor and band manager Alan Erasmus and, by that May, their first club night ‘The Factory’ was set up with Cabaret Voltaire and The Durutti Column booked to play.
5. His gravestone and coffin
Fittingly, Wilson went out as he lived his life: with style, a loveable arrogance and utterly on brand in every way. His gravestone declared him a ‘Broadcaster and Cultural Catalyst’ and lifted a quote from The Manchester Man, the 19th Century novel centred on the rise of Jabez Clegg whose rise to prosperity echoed Wilson’s own journey.
The grave was installed three years after Wilson’s death and was orchestrated in part by Peter Saville, Factory Records go-to-guy for the label’s aesthetic. Factory’s own numbering system also crept its way into the end of Wilson’s life – his coffin bore the legend ‘FAC 501′ – the last ever catalogue number to be assigned to a Factory product.