Originally known as Warsaw, this Manchester post-punk outfit is widely regarded as one of the most important bands of their era. Joy Division comprised of Ian Curtis (vocals), Bernard Sumner (guitar/vocals), Peter Hook (bass) and Stephen Morris (drums). Curtis, Sumner and Hook had formed Warsaw in April 1977, with Steve Brotherdale on drums. By the following March, with Morris already on board, they had emerged under their new title, borrowing their name from the prostitution wing of a Nazi concentration camp.
After recording a regionally available EP, 1977's ‘An Ideal For Living’, they were signed Factory Records and placed in the hands of producer Martin Hannett. Their 1979 debut, ‘Unknown Pleasures’, was a dark and disturbing affair, with Curtis at his most manically arresting on the insistent ‘She's Lost Control'.
By the time of the single ‘Transmission', the quartet had already established a strong cult following, which increased after each gig. Much of the attention centered on the charismatic Curtis, who was renowned for his neurotic stage presence. By the autumn of 1979, however, Curtis’ performances were drawing attention for a more serious reason, having suffered from blackouts onstage.
On 18 May 1980, the eve of Joy Division's proposed visit to America, Ian Curtis was found hanged. The verdict was suicide. A note was allegedly found bearing the words: "At this moment I wish I were dead. I just can't cope anymore".
The UK Top 20 single, ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, was later released, probably the finest of the year, a haunting account of a fragmented relationship, sung by Curtis in a voice that few realized he possessed. The attendant album, ‘Closer’ followed shortly, showing a maturity in the bands work. The following year, a double album, ‘Still’, collected the remainder of the band's material, most of it in primitive form.
Within months of the Curtis tragedy, the remaining members sought a fresh start as New Order.
In 1995 Curtis' widow, Deborah, published a book on her former husband and the band, while a compilation album and a re-released version of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart' were back on the shelves on the 15th anniversary of his death.
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