Wolverhampton Literature Festival: Alan McGee shines in brutally honest chat - review

"We used to sell a million records for big indie acts around the world but when Oasis came along, that changed everything."

Scottish businessman and music industry executive Alan McGee talking at the The Slade Room as part of the Wolverhampton Literature Festival
Scottish businessman and music industry executive Alan McGee talking at the The Slade Room as part of the Wolverhampton Literature Festival

He's the man who discovered the famous Mancunian brothers, but he had got plenty more stories up his sleeve – as a packed Slade Rooms crowd found out.

Alan McGee, who visited the venue as part of the Wolverhampton Literature Festival, started off on the right foot with an obligatory reference to Wolverhampton rock band Slade.

And then, only a few minutes after briefly discussing the band with Blastoff promoter Dave Travis, the Scottish record label owner went straight into his drug use – in brutally honest fashion.

"In the middle of the 90s I lost my s***," he said, much to the laughter of the audience at his straight-talking.

Scottish businessman and music industry executive Alan McGee talking at the The Slade Room as part of the Wolverhampton Literature Festival

He went on to explain how he ended up in rehab for nine months, which had led him to realise he was an ordinary man.

"I was like 'you're an ordinary guy – you get off your cloud'," he said.

"I thought I was as important as Shakespeare and that's what drugs do to you. I was like 'this is genius' and it's not – you're just a guy."

The 59-year-old dismissed comparisons with Tony Wilson, one of the five co-founders of Factory Records and known for his work in promoting Manchester bands, insisting Tony was a "genius".

"Tony was like a university lecturer in charge of a record label and I was like a bus driver in charge of a record label," he said.

Scottish businessman and music industry executive Alan McGee talking at the The Slade Room as part of the Wolverhampton Literature Festival

"He was a brilliant, brilliant, inspirational person. Tony was about the idea where I was more about the music – as long as the music was good, it was good."

Alan frequently referenced his other acts during the talk as well as Oasis, including The Jesus and Mary Chain, Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine and The Libertines.

But he never strayed away from the fact the Mancunian brothers helped save his Creation Records label.

He said: "Creation Records was going towards bankruptcy and they saved us, the Gallaghers.

"We were still having good hits, so it was still big – but it was a slow descent into the abyss."

Scottish businessman and music industry executive Alan McGee talking at the The Slade Room as part of the Wolverhampton Literature Festival

Stepping away from his career, his investment – and support – of the Labour Party was discussed, with the record label owner having donated £100,000 to the party.

He stated "we changed the world" as he explained the benefits of the 1997 election win, which resulted in a Labour landslide for Tony Blair.

There was an obligatory mention of Alan's new record label, Creation23, set up with Simon Fletcher.

"It's my favourite number – it's a good luck number for me," he added.

Scottish businessman and music industry executive Alan McGee talking at the The Slade Room as part of the Wolverhampton Literature Festival

And the question, on every person's lips, was soon answered half-way through the session – will Oasis come back?

"If they ever came back, I can't say they will, but how big would that reunion be?," he said.

"But I don't know about that – they just don't get on at all at this point."

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