1 May 2016
It’s difficult to explain the early years when Manchester started to boom.
I arrived from Wales and didn’t know anyone. Tim Bacon was someone who befriended me and massively kept me on track.
My first encounter was in my favourite bar JWJohnsons on Deansgate.
Tim was the new manager along with Jez (Jeremy Roberts) Danny, and back then David Hinds was a big part of the team too.
Tim and David had invited everyone who was involved with live music to meet at JWJohnsons.
I arrived and everyone was already sat down around the big round table in the far left of the room. I knew it well as I had lunch on the small table next to it most days. I walked up to the table, saying hello and introducing myself, whilst bending down and saying, “You don’t mind if I plug my phone in to charge it do you?” It was more a statement as I was already doing it. I sat down.No one had phones back then, and years later David explained that as soon as the meeting was over Tim said, give the job to Lawrence. He knew instantly the moment I sat down, I had the same cheeky grin he had.
This was one of Tim’s skills. He not only knew how to pick the right people to build a team, he also inspired each and every person to work to the best of their ability and often beyond. Somehow he created an instant connection.
I have seen it in Richard Branson and many business leaders, but none to the extent of Tim Bacon. His was a warmth that was so infectious, it is difficult to put in to words, yet anyone who knew him will know exactly what I mean.
The early years with Tim were a brilliant learning curve for me. He was my greatest mentor and friend I could have asked for in Manchester.
I ran the bands, DJ’s and doormen in JW’s and I learnt so much from being a round him. In fact there are so many “first lessons” from that era, I could probably write a book and dedicate the entire thing to him.
Nowadays its more common place for businesses to treat their teams to a party or celebration, but Tim was a master at it and saw massive value in celebrating success as an integral part of team work. He was the first person I ever saw do this at such a successful level, even 20 odd years ago. It was once such party in Platt Fields Park where he took the whole team for a game of softball and a picnic where he fell for a young AuPair who’d come from France to live in Manchester. Karine was stunning and Tim fell for her from the moment he set eyes on her.
When he decided to go it alone with Jeremy and David to set up Life Cafe. I remember his pitch to Marstons to convince the brewery for money for the project. He had a piece of card with lots of British images on, phone boxes, Minis, union jacks. He rehearsed it repeatedly pacing up and down my flat in Salford, honing every word. He was meticulous. He was mesmerising.
Somehow, that piece of cardboard and his endless charisma were enough and the acorn that was later to become Living Ventures was born.
He was always destined to do great things, it was clear. He was such a fantastic people person, but he was smart too with a great commercial brain. These are rare combinations and make an unstoppable force.
But he was also an incredibly hard worker. I remember going for dinner with him in his bar the Living Room in the early years and he wasn’t happy with the service from the kitchen, so he left Karine with Gail and myself and went into the kitchen to help cook and wash dishes.
It was at one of Tim’s restaurants Via Vita where I’d met my wonderful wife, Gail. Via Vita is Latin for “The Way, The Truth, The Life.” That chance meeting changed my life. After I’d set up UKFast with Gail, Tim took us for dinner with Karine at a new restaurant Stocks. We were so poor back then, struggling to make ends meet.
I was grateful for such a fantastic night, I couldn’t sleep and I got up in the middle of the night with an idea to design a “corporate squiggle” to sit next to his Living Ventures logo, to say thank you.
In those days, UKFast had less than 10 customers, Tim being one of them! We did web design and just about anything to keep the wolves form the doors.
The idea behind the logo was to reinforce Tim’s passion that this business Living Ventures was here to stay and stand the test of time.
So I create an L and V out of a pyramid shape, as nothing has stood the test of time more than the pyramids and by using a shadow to make it look like a sun dial it joined up the idea with time. If you look at it closely you will see numerous L and V’s in the image.
The LV logo is still used today on every menu and more importantly Tim’s legacy will live on like he intended.
I have too many funny stories that I regularly share over a beer. I don’t have many regrets, of course I’d have wished I’d have spent more time with him and Karine, but as we grow older and our responsibilities widen, time is more precious. But Tim’s death reminds me actually, no matter how busy we are, the only thing that matters, are our friends and family.
He leaves behind him a loving ex-wife who I know is deeply devastated and 2 wonderful children and an army of loyal teammates and friends who will never forget the passion and calmness he brought to everything he did. In all the years I knew him, I never once heard him say anything remotely negative about someone else. If someone had offended him, he might have raised an eyebrow and smiled, and that was that.
Yesterday was a tough and tearful day for a number of us, but when I got out some of my old photographs to reminisce so many wonderful memories flooded back.
I will leave you with this funny image.
Imagine a group of us going up a ski lift in Les Contamines, on holiday with “French David” funnily enough from that area. French David and I could ski and were dressed in scruffy gear. Tim, taller than us and looking like a ski professional with his the super athletic build, he was dressed in a brand new blue outfit from head to toe, new skis, new boots, the latest of everything!
When we all got out of the lift at the top of the slope, the entire lift stood to the side to let Tim out first expecting him to fly down the mountain like a rocket. Tim put on his skis whilst everyone waited. He grinned, crouched and set off doing a snow plough, much to the amusement everyone at the top.
Rest in peace mate. You can’t be forgotten because you are in everything I do.
There are a few related stories involving Tim Bacon: