Photo credit: Pennie Smith
Formed in the wake of the punk explosion in the UK, few bands could claim a greater impact on the shape of music in the post-modern era than the Manchester quartet Joy Division. Their music not only portrayed anger, energy and despair, but mood and expression, incorporating synthesizers and haunting melodies, emphasised by the isolated, tortured lyrics of lead vocalist, Ian Curtis.
In June, 1979, the band released their debut album ‘Unknown Pleasures’, which included single ‘She’s Lost Control’ to widespread, underground acclaim. April 1980 saw the release of single ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, a song that unquestionably poised Joy Division for mainstream success. The band completed their second album ‘Closer’. On the eve of its release and their first U.S. tour Curtis, overwhelmed with depression and illness, committed suicide. ‘Closer’ and ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ became the band’s highest charting releases.
Sumner, Hook and Morris would go on to form New Order, a group that would continue Joy Division's experimental mandate. Yet the power and presence of the original Joy Division was forever lost with the death of its creative mainstay, Ian Curtis.
The band were awarded the Q Magazine Legends Award in 2005 and the Godlike Genius Award with New Order in the same year. In 2007 Joy Division won the MOJO Outstanding Contribution To Music Award. ‘Control’, the biopic about singer Curtis released in 2007 scooped five prizes at the British Independent Film Awards, including best film. In 2005, Joy Division were inducted along with New Order into the UK Music Hall of Fame.