Liverpool is in shock after the tragic death of Alan Wills. The Shack drummer who went on to found Merseyside label Deltasonic, home to The Coral, The Zutons and Miles Kane’s former bands, died last night (May 11) following a road crash. Musicians, artists, fans and colleagues have paid tribute to the much-loved label founder. Singer James Skelly of The Coral was one of the first, telling the Liverpool Echo: “Alan was a true and loyal friend. I am gutted”, while others took to Twitter to pay their respects:
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
— Miles Kane (@MilesKaneMusic) May 12, 2014
Very sad news about Alan Wills. One of the first gigs I ever went to was The Coral, The Basement and The Bandits in Norwich. RIP
— Fred Macpherson (@fredmacpherson) May 12, 2014
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
— TheFarm/PeterHooton (@TheFarm_Peter) May 12, 2014
You gave me my first and only record deal and you where the best person to have around to learn from RIP ALAN (willsy) WILLS all my love XXX
— david mccabe (@davemcCabe1) May 12, 2014
The legacy of Alan Wills work is perhaps best embodied by the records he gave a home to. To celebrate his legacy, we’ve rounded up five of Deltasonic’s best recordings.
The Coral – The Coral
The first of six records released by The Coral on Deltasonic, ‘The Coral’ had, according to the NME reviewer at the time, “tunes so joyous you thought they only existed on dusty 45s in ancient pub jukeboxes appear regularly through the mist.” It charted at number 5 and was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, providing some much-deserved early success for the label. Single ‘Dreaming Of You’ is still the band’s most famous track, included in NME.com’s 150 tracks of the past 15 years.
The Longcut – ‘A Call And Response’
Manchester three-piece The Longcut were one of Deltasonic’s first signings, releasing two EPs under Alan Wills’s tutelage whilst building up to their 2006 debut LP, ‘A Call And Response’. Produced by TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek, it diversified Delta’s roster out of the world of trad-indie into more experimental realms, opening the floodgates for the likes of The Dead 60s and Candie Payne, who also signed to the label.
The Zutons – ‘Who Killed….. The Zutons?’
One of the most successful graduates from the indie class of 2004, The Zutons’ debut propelled them into success, spending a total of 36 weeks in the UK album chart. Eventually they moved over to Sony for second record ‘Tired Of Hanging Around’, where they made a mainstream breakthrough with ‘Valerie’, later popularised by Amy Winehouse.
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The Rascals – ‘Rascalize’
Perhaps the musician closest to Deltasonic is Miles Kane, who released records on the label as part of The Little Flames and The Rascals. Debut ‘Rascalize’ was a well-received affair that saw the band fill indie discos and tour with the likes of Arctic Monkeys. Miles quit a year later in order to focus on his solo material and remaining members Joe Edwards and Greg Mighall are still yet to replace their frontman.
The Last Shadow Puppets – ‘The Age Of The Understatement’
Although Alex Turner and Miles Kane released their debut as The Last Shadow Puppets on Domino, they still remained loyal to the Deltasonic camp, keeping them onboard as publishers. It was Miles Kane’s last incarnation with the label, paying homage to the musical era that had inspired Delta’s creation in the first place: the 60s. In this way, the record is possibly the most fitting tribute to Alan Wills, encapsulating his love of Delta blues, a concept he blended with his favourite band Sonic Youth to form the record label’s name.
A selection of Alan’s favourite music on Deltasonic included The Coral’s ‘The Invisible Invasion’, The Dead 60s’ ‘Space Invader Dub’ and The Suzukis ‘The Suzukis’.