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In two albums and five singles Ian Curtis managed to bring us all into his world. I was about twenty when he died I loved Joy Division as did Bobby Gillespie. But could have Ian Curtis have lived with the massive success that was coming his way, if he hadn’t had committed suicide, who knows ? But Dead Souls, Isolation and Decades best describe the world that Ian inhabited.
In addition, he also summed up the seminal Factory Records in many ways, somehow Creation Records managed to do this without anybody dying. Factory Records had a death in their history and Ian Curtis was their biggest star really and still is. Off the top of my head, I think there have been now four films about Ian Curtis and Factory Records that says it all.
We know something but know nothing, other that Ian Curtis was an absolute legend.
© Words – Alan McGee
My favorite Joy Division track, well, actually one of my favorite records of all time is These Days that was the B Side to Love Will Tear Us Apart. I'd heard Love Will...on John Peel but when I bought the single I was more entranced with the B Side. What a sound! Like a proto-warped disco beat with a monster bassline and Curtis' filter vocals. It was totally hypnotic and mysterious and oblique, it really left an impact on me.
One of the things I love about music is its ability to capture a time and place and These Days captured it perfectly for me. We were once on coach from Bradford to Old Trafford to watch the match and These Days was played on the radio. There was snow on The Pennines and it was bitterly cold and even on such a tiny sound system the song captured the scenery outside. Also, I remember I bought the single from a newsagents of all places. Back then they used to sell ex-jukebox singles for a quarter of the shop price, but the middle had been drilled out to fit on the jukebox. It was fitting in a way.
I remember Curtis topping himself very well. There were a few of us at school who knew who he was and I actually remember being strangely excited about the whole sad affair. I wouldn't say I was a massive Joy Division fan, but certainly that single, both A and B sides were fucking seminal.
© Words – Dean Cavanagh
Ian Curtis died before I was born and therefore the impact of his suicide will likely not have hit me as hard as it perhaps did on the people who heard the news at the time or who had been very close to him. Despite this, when I think about the way he died and the very personal and lonely emotional suffering he must have been going through in those final hours, it really upsets me.
For me, the memory of Ian Curtis gives me a reminder of human vulnerability, and the value of looking deeper than what sometimes meets the eye. There is a side to humanity that often gets swept under the carpet, but emotions are real, and I take from the music a reminder that behind all great songs lie the real people who created them.
© Word Katy Georgiou
When I think of Ian Curtis I think of a TV show in 1979. Joy Division and The Jam appearing on an episode of the programmeSomething Else. The Jam were already heroes to me, but I wasn’t that familiar with Joy Division. I remember being mesmerised by Ian Curtis’ performance.
The intensity and the movement. Every detail of both groups’ appearances on that show has stayed with me, and has remained a blueprint for what pop music can be: the ability of young people to express extraordinary things.
© Words – Kevin Pearce.
The memory of seeing Ian Curtis on the Something Else TV programme and him going into that crazed jerky dance that he did is forever burned into my memory.
The music has obviously stood the test of time, as has Curtis who ended his life so tragically young. Any band that has one of their songs adapted and sung on football terraces, as Love Will Tear Us Apart, (heard as Giggs Will Tear You Apart) is at Old Trafford aint done bad.
© Words - Mark Baxter
It was the aggressive strumming opening of Love Will Tear Us apart that caught my attention: haunting and spectacular, a classic intro to the seven-inch single. This is how I discovered Ian Curtis and Joy Division. I was taken by Joy Division’s dark and bleak image, and the honesty in the music. It touched the emotions that you dare not question, and Ian Curtis is certainly amongst one of my inspirations
He was an outsider with his own agenda, yet, he took his life, which is far too deep to analyse. A gifted poet, that opened my mind to the written word. He was a true artist, driven by his passion and his demons , and sadly his demons got the better of him.
However I wish ZANI was celebrating his birthday with an interview celebrating his career, not remembering his death. Ian you died too young, yet your spirit lives on, and where ever you are, I hope you are happy.
© Words – Matteo Sedazzari
The first time I saw Joy Division I was pissed off because they weren’t The Jam. I thought his dying fly dance was silly. But I was an adolescent then, and things can swing unpredictably When You’re Young.
Nine months later Joy Division are on TV again. This time the song penetrated my teenage consciousness and I related to it immediately - the power and the gloom, the desolation, the sadness – maybe I’d just been knocked back by a bird - I can’t remember exactly. But I clearly recall how I felt when I first got Joy Division. After I talked excitedly to a friend, who broke the news that the lead singer had committed suicide.
There’s no doubt that the tragedy that surrounded Ian Curtis has contributed to their legendary status. But that plays a disservice to clearly the most emotionally eloquent music of its time. It still sounds great today – the power of Dead Souls the melancholy of Atmosphere, the screeching despair of Transmission. Ian Curtis suffered from bouts of destructiveness that were eventually fatal, but he was also blessed with lucid creativity. He took us that far, but sadly we will never get any Closer.
© Words – Paolo Sedazzari
Growing up in Manchester in the late 1970s, you tended to hear about local Manchester bands. My first introduction to that industrial sound wasn’t Joy Division, but a Joy Division type band from across the gardens called Stockholm Monsters, that came after Joy Division.
Fronted by The France brothers they didn’t dress the same as me. I was a Mod back in those days, but they intrigued me, they looked strange.
Anyhow I later found out they were signed to Factory Records, the home of Joy Division. A label based in Didsbury, not far from Burnage where I lived.
My favourite Joy Division track is Isolation, probably more for the upbeat tempo more than anything else, and the haunting words, wrapped around the high pitched synths that appeared on Joy Division's second-and final album-Closer released after Ian Curtis death in 1980.
The lyrics and the delivery and the driving drums are the key.
Mother, I tried, please believe me.
I’m doing the best that I can.
I’m ashamed of the things I’ve been put through.
I’m ashamed of the person I am.
Isolation, Isolation, Isolation.
Strong words by a tortured soul, a cry for help, that wasn't picked up upon at the time.
© Words - Paul Gallagher
In Roman Mythology, a genius is a guardian spirit of a person, place or institution. And by taking his own life, Ian Curtis assured his own status; not only the curator of Joy Division, but also as tortured genius, which are always the most useful kind. He became a kind of Jim Morrison for the hippy loathing post-punk generation. But was he really a genius when it mattered – when he was alive? Ian Curtis was undoubtedly an arresting lyricist, a distinctively heartfelt singer and a performer who burnt with an intense and mesmerising power. But at the risk of offending every devout disciple in the Glossy Mag Monthly Church of Rock n Roll, I would venture to say that he was not, by any stretch of the most sympathetic imagination, a full-blown working musical genius.
Joy Division produced one record of transcendental brilliance (Love Will Tear Us Apart) and a few others that were touched by the hand of holy inspiration, but, as later events concur, these were very much informed by the Other Three, the talent that went on to make Blue Monday, Temptation Thieves Like Us and a whole other host of sublime pop songs. Without the gravitas of their brooding singer, Hook, Sumner and Morrison left the dark edge of the late seventies and soared. Unfortunately, we will never know if Curtis could have joined them.
© Words – Russ "waiting for a better offer" Litten
© Words – Owned by the above writers & ZANI