Alan Wills remembered.
Alan Wills, father, musician, Deltasonic founder and friend to many, died over the weekend.
Tributes are continuing to pour in for this much-loved, inspirational man who was central to Merseyside music and beyond.
For our tribute to Alan, click here.
We will continue to update this page. Main image courtesy of Candie Payne.
Deltasonic record sleeve montage – from Liverpool Sound City Facebook page
Bill Ryder-Jones, solo artist and ex-The Coral,
‘Alan was the first person I met who I could talk to about my brother, the first in my whole life to tell me I was any good and always the person I called when the things got too much.
Alan was a beacon for people who didn’t want to be swallowed up by their past. His future was everything, that continues in all of the people he touched, the musicians he gave a chance to and of course Sonny.
His influence on me as a teen and the worlds of thought he introduced to me shaped me into who I am and saved my life time over.
It felt that with ever turn my life took Al was there to explain it for me. Every corner of ill health or disaster was made perfect sense after a phone call. In many ways the view on life that I took from him has given me the best preparation you could have.
Its a game, theres a piece missing now, you’ve got to carry on and see how you do.
Too many amazing memories tho….. One of the most important times of my life i still joke about. Being the one who got stuck next to him on the flight back from Japan 2001, everything from siddhartha to U2 to New Balance being the ‘Joy Division of trainers’, the tao of pooh, life was an illusion, maths, music and everywhere else his brain wanted to take us.
An unending well of energy and positivity x‘
Alan Wills – by Mark McNulty
James Skelly, solo artist and The Coral,
‘RIP Alan Wills, a very close friend, my heart goes out to his family. x‘
Dave McCabe, musician, ex-Zutons,
‘I’ll miss our chats and heated debates about verse’s and chorus’s and songs whether they where in America, Japan, Knowsley Village or Dale Street. You’ll always be right on that subject.
You knew that. You gave me my first and only record deal and man did we do good.
Love you Alan you will be missed – you where the best person to have around to learn from RIP ALAN (willsy) WILLS all my love XXX‘
Sonny Morris, ex-The Hokum Clones:
‘Basically, Wilsey mobilized a whole generation of musicians, bands and songwriters, with an incredible energy and vision. He took it to a global level and provided the platform for dreams to be lived by so many!
He was the best man manger in the game; rest easy mate you will be greatly missed throughout the world but your legacy will continue to live on forever! So proud of all my mates, and to be part of such an incredible journey, love you all very much!! Xx‘
Carl Hunter, The Farm:
‘So sad to hear of Alan Wills passing. I was with him on saturday at soundcity, we laughed and chatted about music. We’d arranged to meet on thursday for a cuppa. I’m still turning up Alan. You were one of the good guys. R.I.P mate xx My thoughts are with his family xx‘
Jayne Casey, artist,
‘Alan Wills you have left us all heartbroken you were a giant amongst men so privileged to have known you..Sending all the love in my heart to Anne and Sunny.. Rest in peace brother..xx‘
Ian McNabb, musician
‘I knew Alan off and on for 30 years. First I knew him as the drummer in Shack and Top then as the driving force behind his record and publishing companies. He helped many local musicians live their dreams through his hard work and belief in their music. He was passionate about the things that count in this life and I am very sad to hear he has been taken away in the cruellest and most shocking way possible.’
“Another great musical mentor of Liverpool has gone too soon. Thoughts with family and friends.‘
Alan Wills – by Mark McNulty
Steve ‘Revo’ Miller, promoter,
‘Very sad to read of Alan Wills passing away overnight after hearing encouraging signs over the weekend. I’ve never met anyone with so much enthusiasm and love for music, a truly inspiring man, and countless musicians on Merseyside owe Alan everything, he was a guiding light, a founding father. I will miss our chats. Thoughts and prayers going out to his family & friends. Very, very sad. RIP Alan -x-‘
Eva Petersen, musician and ex-Little Flames,
‘10 years ago Alan Wills gave me and my band an opportunity that changed our lives forever, a time that I will never forget and will be forever grateful. Alan was honest, kind and generous and I am so sad that he is no longer with us. Rest in Peace, Alan. Our love and support to Ann, Sonny, Jamie and Carly xxxx‘
Jack Prince, musician,
‘RIP Alan Wills. What a character! I first met Alan whilst I was working behind the counter at ADC Drums. He’d bounce in at 100mph with a different band an hour, telling me “…These guys are the best new band you’ll hear…!” Little did I know, I now count some of these as close friends and I thank him for bringing us together. xxx‘
The Wild Swans, Alan Wills (second left) – courtesy of Gary Lornie
Candie Payne, musician,
‘I am truly devastated like so many, not least of all his family. Alan was a once in a lifetime character. He influenced, guided and affected so many of us on the course our lives took. He changed Liverpool with his boundless energy, unrestricted and off the wall imagination and positivity. I can not believe we have lost someone so larger than life so soon. I don’t know what else to say…how do you describe or even come close to paying tribute to someone like Alan? I’m so truly grateful for everything Alan did for me. ‘
Mark McNulty, photographer,
‘My first memory of Alan was on a trip to Paris in 1990 with his band Top and some other Liverpool bands and, on the first night, whilst everybody else was out getting drunk, Alan had found a load of locations where we should be taking photos including a cafe that hadn’t been decorated since the 1950’s and a backdrop of the Moulin Rouge. He was non stop enthusiasm from day one and he will be so missed by so many people who’s careers he launched and influenced over the years.‘
Miles Kane, solo artist and ex-The Rascals and Little Flames,
‘RIP Alan Wills such sad news he made me believe in my dreams and gave me my first break and that I’ll never forget big love to the family!x‘
Bryan Johnson, ex-Dead 60s,
‘Tonight we lost one of the good guys, Alan Wills. Friend, label boss & inspiration. His legacy will live on though us all. RIP Willsy.‘
Alan Wills – courtesy of Jem Kelly
Phil Hartley, Space,
‘So sad to hear about the passing off Alan Wills, Like so many other people in this city I can honesty say part off the reason I’m still doing what I’m doin today is cause off Alan’s undeniable resolve, he gave me many opportunities and ideas through my career and hours and hours of musical discussion, I’ll miss the random beeps outside the house and his smile through the window saying wait till you hear this mix this is gonna change the world!
We have lost one off our true brothers and one off this city’s most influential patrons.
My thoughts today are with Anne and sonny and everyone else in the Deltasonic Family,
Mark Cowley, music manager,
‘Sad sad news…… A legend who had much more to dazzle the world with, will be greatly missed RIP Alan xx‘
Jamie Bowman, writer, ‘Alan Wills was a great bloke – I last saw him a couple of weeks ago and as always he was interested in my opinion on various bands and what I was up to and was as funny and enthusiastic as ever (he asked if I was going to Ian Broudie’s “testimonial match” at the Philharmonic).
Back in 2005 following the closure of the Royal Court he rang me up and asked me into the Deltasonic offices for a chat – a few weeks later I was driving the Little Flames around the country as we set off on a UK tour with some bunch of unknowns called the Arctic Monkeys. It was one of the most fun two weeks of my life and I’ll always be grateful to Alan for the opportunity to work with a great label. Loads of amazing music was made and great times were had because of what Alan did with Deltasonic and his love for the bands he worked with was infectious. RIP.‘
Alan Wills in the band Top – by Mark McNulty
Geoff Barrow, Portishead,
‘Incredibly sad news to hear about Deltasonic founder Alan Wills today. Thoughts are with his friends and family RIP‘
Andy Votel, musician and record label boss,
‘RIP Alan Wills. Big loss to Northern noise.‘
Neville Skelly, musician,
‘A sad and tragic loss of a true music maverick and boss fella…deepest condolences to all the family. He will never be forgotten by all those who knew him x‘
Martin O’Shea, music manager,
‘So sad, heartfelt sympathy to Ann and Alan’s family and friends. So unfair and so unexpected. Never a dull moment when in Alan’s company and the word passion doesn’t cover his love for his artists and music. Huge loss to everyone who knew him‘
Keith Mullen, The Farm,
‘Really saddened to hear of Alan Wills, a true inspiration and maverick, RIP Alan my thoughts are with his family.‘
‘RIP Alan Wills are thought are with his family, gave many musicians the chance to make music. His legacy will live on forever X.‘
Laurence Easeman, director and actor,
Today we lost a giant of Liverpool. A man to whom many in this city owe their careers, breaks and opportunities. The most influential music mogul to come out of Liverpool since Brian Epstein. A man who would be King.
He gave me my break when no one else would, championed my cause when I was faced with adversity. A constant presence through triumph and disaster, personal or professional, Alan would be there. No other has effected such influence over my life than Alan Wills. A man I am proud to call my friend but most of all to call a mentor.
Today we have been cruelly robbed of that influence.
Alan Wills is now back amongst the stars. Travel well my friend, you will be sorely missed by many. I look forward to our next cosmic encounter. “We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.”
Alan Wills (second left) – picture courtesy of Paul Simpson
The team at Liverpool Sound City,
‘Rest in peace Alan. The city will never be the same without you mate. You had such an amazing influence on all of us here. We are really going to miss you man.‘
Pete Wylie, musician,
‘Such sad news. A good man. Decent. An enthusiast. Always engaging. Such a loss. Love & condolences.‘
Jay Mighall, ex-Little Flames and music manager,
‘Alan Wills, inspired, encouraged, nurtured and supported us all, we all appreciate everything that he did for us. So many of us owe so much gratitude to Alan and we will all continue to benefit from his influence and legacy. Rest in peace Alan xxx‘
Kevin Sampson, novelist,
‘So sad about Alan Wills. Rest in peace.‘
Paul Easton, sound engineer,
‘Really sad news about Alan Wills. His label was a driving force and personally gave me such incredible music that really inspired me.‘
Russell Pritchard, musician,
‘RIP Alan, he gave me so many opportunities throughout our time together. An ever willing ear to talk to ( and talk back endlessly….) a man who followed his passion In life, I will always admire. Proud to have known you, gutted to see you gone.‘
The Elevator Studios team,
‘So very sad that our friend Alan Wills, founder of Deltasonic, has died. Alan was passionate, vibrant and vital. He will be greatly missed.‘
Peter Hooton, The Farm,
‘Terrible news about the death of Deltasonic founder Alan Wills who toured with us when he was the drummer in Top -one of the good guys RIP.’
Dave Monks, broadcaster,
‘So sad to hear the passing of Alan Wills who helped so many musicians. Liverpool has lost one of the most passionate and funniest characters.‘
Daniel Hunt, Ladytron,
‘Tragic news about Alan Wills. He helped drag Liverpool’s music out of the bedrooms, back onto the world stage, and did so with limitless energy & enthusiasm. RIP‘
Sakura Henderson, photographer,
‘Alan Wills – a man of vision, a powerhouse of ideas. I remember Alan rang us up one day asking Ernie to remaster a tape of ‘these young lads from the Wirral’ so he called by and Ernie was working the sound while Alan paced around the room. The tapes were the unsigned Coral, and then later date he asked Ernie to work on the demos of Friends of The Coral. We were always entertained by Alan pacing around the room. An absolute genius, way ahead. Sleep well, Alan -x-‘
Martin Mittler, sound engineer,
‘It’s so sad that we lost one of the good ones today. It was a privilege to know & work with Alan Wills & to be infected with his tsunami of enthusiasm & positivity. There are not enough people like Alan in this world & tragically now there is one less. My thoughts are with his many good friends & family.‘
Alan Wills – picture courtesy of Jem Kelly
The team at Bido Lito!,
‘We’re gutted to hear about the passing of Alan Wills, a person who will stand tall in Liverpool’s musical history.‘
Simon Finley, musician, ex-Sound of Guns,
‘Very sad news about Alan Wills. Like many others, I had the pleasure of working closely with him years ago when I was lucky enough to sign to Deltasonic Records that he had just started. He was a very unique person, a force of nature and there was never a dull moment with him. One of the most passionate, driven and genuine guys that I have ever met in all my time playing music. I can still see him now pacing up and down a recording studio air drumming to new songs that he was giving his approval to. A one of a kind who will be missed by many people. My thoughts are with his family and friends. RIP Willsy. I am proud to have known you x‘
Neil Mclean, film maker,
‘Rest in peace Alan Wills. Back in 2003, just when me and my friend James were about to throw in the towel as music video directors, I got a phone call from Alan asking if we could shoot one the following day. We told him that we could.
It was the first of many that we made for him over the next few years, for the other lost artists that he discovered, gathered and championed. The videos Alan asked us to make boosted our careers in Liverpool and the country. His trust along with his good taste in music gave us the chance to work with bands whose music we would have genuinely loved whether we were making their videos or not. I learnt so much through his mentorship and the opportunities he gave me. His enthusiasm lives on in anything I make. Indeed in everyone through whom his energy was channelled. It’s fair to say he was the first person to truly believe in me.
I remember Alan giving me a beautiful new pair of jeans out of the back of his car one time. He said that he gotten them for himself but they were the wrong size. Alan was much shorter than me. When I questioned him he said “I can’t have my director looking like a tramp”. I brought those jeans to America with me. Unwearable and falling apart. He would talk for hours at my house when he would come to look at what me and James had been making for him. His friend Joe rolling an expert joint on my couch as Alan soapboxed about anything and everything.
I am sad that I will never be able to show him dungeon. Something he saw the seeds of back in Liverpool. It would not have gotten this far without the chances he gave me. The experiments that his commissions allowed me to make. The wisdom and honesty he had about what was cool and what was not. If someone has been an important fulcrum in your life. Don’t wait for the right time to tell them, tell them now. Thank you for everything Alan. Your belief in me helped me believe in myself. My thoughts and love are with Ann, his family and friends. xxxx.‘
Mike Ellis, The Dirty Rivers/Serotonin,
‘I knew Alan for four years and he changed my life beyond all recognition, he gave me stability, nurtured my person in music and outside music. He helped people in music, even if it served as no benefit to himself, never told me he had no time for me, would never give up on me and we would speak about world domination until the early hours.
It was only until I spent time at the hospital I realised how excited he was about the forthcoming single and as you put it Peter was “waxing lyrical”. Me and the lads consider it on honour to of been schooled and guided by this great friend/mentor, who didn’t deserve the hand he was dealt. Joe, Ann, me and the lads, intend to carry on his work as we are well aware the bollocking we would receive from commander Wills if we we’re to call it a day. “Mike it might be shit but just try it.”
Good night Al and god bless, we love you. xxxxxxxxxxxxx‘
Ryan Ellis, The Dirty Rivers/Serotonin,
‘I loved you very very much Al. You were a huge inspiration to me and so many around me. You taught me that you can do anything you want in life, that you can conquer the world from one tiny room. You were the most positive, unique, strong and loving person I have ever met and I’m proud to say that you are one of my best friends and always will be. I’m sure that goes the same for everybody else who had the pleasure of meeting you. The universe has lost one of its stars with you gone.
I will love you forever and never forget all the help you have given me over the years, all the phone calls, the walks to the shop, talking about tunes together and most importantly your friendship, thank you. I love you Always Al and I think I’ll miss you more xxx.‘
Further reading on Getintothis:
Frankie Knuckles: Tears are not enough – a tribute by Bernie Connor.
Flying in the face of adversity – the demise of the music press in the digital age.
Word Magazine closes: The final word on a much-loved music magazine
Bob Dylan, Run DMC and the moral dilemma of selling out to advertising
Lou Reed: The man, the myth and Metal Machine Music.
Phil Everly: Why worry now? The Everly Brothers and their timeless legacy.