At the weekend Tony Wilson the man who shaped my musical tastes died from cancer. If you've never heard of Tony, it's probably because he wasn't from London but Manchester. If he'd been from the south, everyone would know who he was. But if he'd not been a northerner, there's no way he would have had the insight he had.
I never knew Tony, but the bands he handled and the record label he ran inspired me years ago and still do today. I'm sure you've heard of Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays. Although not on Factory Records he also inspired The Smiths, The Fall, The Stone Roses and the whole Manchester scene.
Now that Tony and John Peel have gone, I don't know who'll find the new bands anymore. Maybe we'll just have to live with the X-Factor finding them for us.
Tony was also a great Marketer, though I'm sure it's a title he'd hate. His belief in Manchester and the artists around made it possible for his to take a run down industrial city and make it a cultural centre for the 21st century. Without him Manchester would just be another northern city.
Edit. Just found Tony Wilson's Obituary on the Guardian