Alan Wills, the founder of U.K. indie label Deltasonic, home to The Coral and The Zutons, has died aged 52, following a fatal road accident in his native city of Liverpool.
Wills was a highly popular and influential figure in the current day Liverpool music scene and was widely respected throughout the British music community. His label’s most famous signing was Liverpool indie act The Coral, who released six studio albums through Deltasonic. The band’s 2003 sophomore album “Magic and Medicine” debuted at No. 1 in the U.K. albums chart, with all but two of the group’s albums entering the Top 10.
Other signings to Deltasonic include The Zutons -- who scored three Top 10 albums between 2004 and 2008 -- as well as The Rascals, The Longcut, Candie Payne, The Little Flames, The Suzukis and The Dead 60s. The label also operates a music publishing arm and worked with British rock act The Last Shadow Puppets -- aka Arctic Monkeys’ frontman Alex Turner and Liverpool singer-songwriter Miles Kanes - whose debut album “The Age of the Understatement” debuted at No. 1 in the United Kingdom and was nominated for the 2008 Mercury Prize.
Prior to forming Deltasonic at the turn of the millennium, initially as a joint venture with Sony Music, Wills began his music career as a drummer in the cult Liverpool guitar group Shack. The name Deltasonic is an amalgamation of the words Delta, referencing the Delta blues, and Sonic, in homage to Sonic Youth, which Wills believed was “just the coolest band name ever.”
Following the announcement of Wills’ death, tributes have been paid from across the British and international music community.
“Alan brought all these great young Liverpool bands to widespread attention when the concept of a cool guitar group looked over in the U.K. at the turn of the last decade,” Columbia Records chairman/CEO Rob Stringer told Billboard.
“He was the archetypal British maverick eccentric visionary record label owner and the wonderful music from Deltasonic will be his legacy,” added Stringer, who was CEO of Sony Music U.K. at the time of Deltasonic/Sony joint venture partnership and played a key role in securing the deal.
"Alan was a true and loyal friend. I am gutted," The Coral singer James Skelly told The Liverpool Echo.
Coral bandmate Bill Ryder-Jones added: "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.”
Ryder-Jones went on to call Wills, "an unending well of energy and positivity."
Meanwhile, Miles Kane took to Twitter to state: “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.”