Pioneers of Post-punk combined with heartfelt lyrics and one of my favorite voices of all time – The story of Joy Division’s rise and demise is one of the saddest of them all.
Formed in Greater Manchester in the year 1976, a young Ian Curtis dragged bandmates Bernard Sumner, Peter Hood and Stephen Morris to a Sex Pistols gig and the rest is history – how cliché.
The fiery and tenacious inspiration from the likes of The Sex Pistols and Buzzcocks gave birth to a new generation of punk, a foundation which then saw the like of grunge and shoegaze take shape in what is more commonly known as Post-Punk.
Joy Division wrote the book on love when it came to lyrics that matter. Curtis was a typical genius. He didn’t sleep due to his illness and wrote when he felt like it. Curtis has been praised as one of the best young lyricists of his generation. The way he writes about the uncomfortable unfairness of a fucked up society in turmoil is something that can be echoed through the ages.
NME once wrote: “The themes of Joy Division’s music are sorrowful, painful and sometimes deeply sad”. I think that’s the beauty of Joy Division. It’s not a poetic sadness. It’s just f*cking sad. It’s not designed to make you think or feel. It’s just, IS very very sad.
It’s baffling to think that in less than four years, Joy Division as a band had released two critically acclaimed albums and had chart success with the cult classic ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ – not to mention the back to back UK and across the seas tours.
As we all know, Ian Curtis, aged only 23, sadly took his own life due to his chronic mental and physical illnesses which plagued his everyday life. Curtis suffered severely with epilepsy and would often have fit mid-show. The self-taught embarrassment alone was eating him up inside and consequently forced him to take his own life on May 18th 1980.
Fellow band members and management alike hold deep regret and responsibility for the untimely death of the fellow bandmate. In an interview in 2005, Joy Divisions management said “I think all of us made the mistake of not thinking his suicide was going to happen – We all completely underestimated the danger. We didn’t take it seriously. That’s how stupid we were”.
However, like a phoenix from the ash, a new band was formed. The fellow remaining members formed the now know ‘New Order’ – who since became one of the most influential artists of the 1980’s.