The suicide of Joy Division’s lead singer, Ian Curtis, in 1980 cast a long shadow over the band’s recordings.
Even before the death of Ian there was something out-of-this-world about Joy Division.
Joy Division was a band inspired by punk but never a punk band favoring instead, a sort of monolithic rock styling, dominated by two-note guitar riffs, rigid drum patterns, a bass melody from Peter Hook providing the melody.
The band crafted a rather dark, forlorn form of pop with the release of “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, which included the addition of rudimentary synthesizer parts that seemed to bring out the otherwise hidden musicality in Curtis’s voice.
“Love Will Tear US Apart” hit the charts in April 1980 just when the Joy Division story was reaching the critical point.
Ian Curtis was epileptic and sometimes had seizures on stage. As a result he had a maniacal, jerky, spasmodic dance style that seemed to mimic his condition. Audiences were fascinated with his on-stage antics, never sure whether he was having a fit or simply dancing to the beat.
In 1980, the band was working a grueling schedule, even amongst rumors of the lead singer’s failing health. Some dates were even canceled on the European tour in January 1980 due to issues with Curtis’s condition.
Soon, though, the band started work on a second album and released the first single from the album entitled “Love Will Tear US Apart”. The record received tons of critical acclaim, but it initially failed to reach beyond the independent music charts.
But, on the eve of the planned American tour in May 1980, Ian Curtis hanged himself.
In the summer the song was re-released and gave the band their first hit in the UK.
The song has since been covered by Paul Young and has influenced many of today’s 80’s influenced music artists.
Featuring interviews with all surviving band members, Joy Division explores the Manchester origins of the revolutionary act, its death, and its rebirth as New Order.
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