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Rob On Our Side

Stuart Bailie | 08:21 UK time, Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Legendary bands tend to have legendary managers. Joy Division was guided by Rob Gretton, who rode through the chaos, the strangeness and ultimately the death of the lead singer. His subsequent gig was to support New Order as they reimagined the music all over again.

I bumped into the guy once, at the Factory Records office in the final years, when Happy Mondays were losing it and the company accounts were getting silly. Shortly afterwards, I discovered that he was a distant relative - my mother-in-law's cousin. And at a couple of big Manchester weddings, I met the extended clan and caught up on the gossip.

rob.jpgRob's notebooks were turned into a publication recently. This might seem absurdly trivial, but such is the mythology of the era that his perspective is compelling. The early days are harmless to-do lists and gig details. The enormity of it builds towards an American tour, but abruptly changes into funeral arrangements. Finally, there's the knotty decision of whether they should re-name the new band. There are cameo parts from Tony Wilson, Martin Hannett and Paul Morley. History is written by accident - or praxis, as Tony liked to claim. Every band manager should see this.

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