The Parable of St Anthony

Anthony H Wilson passed away at age 57 in 2007. Record impresario, journalist, and nightclub owner, he died unable to afford the cancer drugs that would have prolonged his life. Only through the charitable efforts of his many friends in the music industry, was he allowed access to the life-prolonging drugs.

Over an extraordinary life, he was responsible helping to bring to the world the music of Joy Division, The Happy Mondays, New Order and others, on his Factory Records label. Alongside this wave of critically acclaimed music, his nightclub, The Hacienda was credited with rejuvenating the post-industrial decay of Manchester as a city. His love and enthusiasm for his home city was legendary, and earned him the tag ‘Mr Manchester’.

As the 10th anniversary of his death fast approaches, the lessons from Tony’s life should be heeded by every student approaching exams this coming week.

While important to earnestly try in your studies, do not be disheartened to fail or receive results that are less than your expectations. Tony’s life was full of failures: His record label went broke due to financial mismanagement, at one point his nightclub was losing ten thousand pounds per week, and most famously, he spent thousands of dollars to send the Happy Mondays to Barbados to record an album (which they then proceeded to spend on crack cocaine).

What Tony will be remembered for, is not a million pound estate. He famously described himself ‘the one person in this industry (music) who never made any money’. His legacy lives on because of the life that he led, and the impact that he had on his friends and his city. The real value of his life was that impact, rather than the material possessions he acquired over its course.

A wise man once told the author, it is not what you have, but what you are that is important. Tony was the living embodiment of this philosophy. Reputedly, the record sleeve for New Order’s smash hit Blue Monday cost Factory Records money on every record they sold, because of its intricacy and construction. Tony wouldn’t have it any other way, always preferring substance and style over profit. Those should be the lives we aspire to lead.

Tristan Wheeler



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