I know a lot of people find Joy Division a bit depressing, but I love their frenetic energy and controlled emotion. (Paradoxical? Absolutely. That’s why they were brilliant.) They had a unique style and voice which no one else had at the time. Plus, they were quite smart! (Punks were a bit too scruffy for my liking.)
Being at art college in the early 80s, it was de rigeuer to be in a band, and I was no exception. The only slight problem to my impending rock stardom was my musical inability. That didn’t stop me trying, mind.
A group of mates, and I, got together to do a benefit gig for the El Salvador Solidarity Campaign. (The clichés just keep on coming, don’t they.) Anyways, we were doing covers above a pub in Leeds and, as I was petrified of being on stage, I didn’t move a muscle. Well, apart from the ones in my hands to play the bass.
When we got round to playing New Dawn Fades, I started to relax, a little. I loved the song and I could play it pretty well, so I began to go for a little wander around the stage. Unfortunately, I wandered a little too far stage right, and promptly fell off the stage.
I can still see the contorted faces of the audience twisted in fits of hysterics. So much for my dream of being a rock star.
If you didn’t know, lead singer, Ian Curtis, committed suicide in 1980 just as they were becoming famous. He suffered from depression and epilepsy and, if we’re to believe the excellent biopic, Control, they link his depression to his epilepsy meds.
They’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but have a listen if you want to hear a truly original voice that is unfortunately lost to us.
I think I’ll save my anecdote about playing New Dawn Fades, with a band I stumbled upon practicing in an upstairs warehouse in the Italian naval port of Livorno, for another day.
Some facts about Joy Division:
They were originally called Warsaw after David Bowie’s Warszawa from the album Low
They changed their name because of another band called Warsaw Pakt
The name Joy Division originated from a prostitute ‘wing’ of a Nazi concentration camp
After Curtis’s death, the remaining members went on to form New Order
Ian Curtis is survived by his wife, Deborah Curtis, and their daughter, Natalie Curtis.