Considered pioneers of the Post-Punk movement, Joy Division formed in 1976. Initially influenced by The Sex Pistols, founders Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook took a different turn, towards a deeper more introspective sound. Together with singer Ian Curtis and drummer Stephen Morris, Joy Division evolved into a band known for their dark ironic imagery (as was evidence by the name of the band, which was a term used by the Germany Army for sex slaves during World War 2 and featured in the 1955 novel House of Dolls).
Their following quickly grew, characterized in the press as “by intense young men in grey overcoats”, they epitomized a more cerebral turn in the direction of music at the time, one devoid of colors and optimism, focusing on the internal struggles.
Little did many realize the internal struggles were very real. As lead singer Ian Curtis suffered from a series of illnesses and serious emotional depression. As the band’s popularity grew and the demands of touring and appearances became greater, Curtis’s illness became more pronounced, to the point of having seizures on stage and forcing cancellation of some gigs as his health and emotional stability continued to deteriorate.
Finally, on the eve of beginning their first American tour in May of 1980, Curtis committed suicide by hanging. The death stunned the rest of the band who initially had no idea how bad Curtis’ state of mind was, underestimating how bad his condition really was. The death became the stuff of myth – and in June 1980, their label posthumously released “Love Will Tear Us Apart“ which became their first major hit. Shortly after that, Joy Division dissolved and emerged as New Order.
But tonight it’s a session recorded for John Peel at the BBC on November 26, 1979. The set starts with Love Will Tear Us Apart – and like everything else Joy Division came to symbolize, it was steeped in irony.
A reminder of one of the more intense bands that became synonymous with the 1970s and early 80s.