In the 1970s, four young men living in the gloomy city of Manchester, UK, were fascinated by the punk sound of the Sex Pistols. Due to the inexplicable chemistry that occurred when they met, they decided to form a band that started with the name Warsaw and later changed to Joy Division.
According to several music critics such as Tony Wilson, founder of the Factory Records label, Anton Corbijn (a frequent collaborator of Depeche Mode) as well as the legendary designer Peter Saville, the name of this group shook the world with their dark and industrial sound, sounded legendary from the first moment they pronounced it when they were still far from becoming one of the most iconic bands of all time.
Their first EP was ‘An Ideal For Living’, released on December 14, 1977, for which Ian Curtis invested all the savings he had with his wife Debbie, in order to produce the album, despite the fact that they had no prognosis of success.
According to Peter Hook, bassist of the band, Curtis was very dedicated and his wife supported him in the musical career he was building, so at the time it did not surprise them that they put a significant amount of money to achieve the dream, even though this project was to maybe become a failure.
“Come to think of it, if it had been my wife, not in my wildest dreams would she have let me do what Debbie did to Ian. She got away with it and it was amazing,” Hook recalled in the Joy Division documentary directed by Grant Gee.
Debbie also recalled that Ian got £400 from a loan with his banker, which they were supposed to use to buy a dining room, but in reality, they invested it in the first album.
This background is important for what happened later. Thanks to the fact that they began to promote their compositions, they attracted attention and released the acclaimed ‘Unknown Pleasures2, which was released on June 15, 1979 and with 10 songs produced in just 15 days, the band, doubtful of the sound they had just created, ventured to release this album that became a landmark of post-punk and remained for posterity. It resonated around the world and made known the melancholy with which they lived in the decadent city of Manchester.
Hook, who is also a founding member of New Order, recounted how they produced one of the most important albums in rock history.
“We didn’t know at the time what we were doing, it all felt easy, there was such a natural chemistry between us, that writing became very simple,” Hook explained in the documentary.
The first song they performed live was “Shadowplay” on one of Tony Wilson’s shows, and witnesses agree that Ian’s movements were enigmatic, because the music transformed him and a “spirit”; later the song “Disorder” says, took over the vocalist.
The album turned them into one of the most interesting groups of the time, but unfortunately, the depression that Curtis suffered due to epilepsy he was diagnosed with, derived in 1980 in his suicide and the end of Joy Division.
Story originally published in Cultura Colectiva in Spanish