MMW: Joy Division

In case you didn’t know – The band was founded in early 1977, soon after the Sex Pistols had made their first appearance in Manchester. Guitarist Bernard Albrecht and bassist Peter Hook had met while at the show and later formed a band called the Stiff Kittens; after placing an ad through a Manchester record store, they added vocalist Ian Curtis and drummer Steve Brotherdale. Renamed Warsaw (from David Bowie’s “Warszawa”), the band made its live debut the following May, supporting the Buzzcocks and Penetration at Manchester’s Electric Circus. After the recording of several demos, Brotherdale quit the group in August 1977, prompting the hire of Stephen Morris. A name change to Joy Division in late 1977 — necessitated by the punk band Warsaw Pakt — was inspired by Karol Cetinsky’s World War II novel The House of Dolls. (In the book, the term “joy division” was used as slang for concentration camp units wherein female inmates were forced to prostitute themselves for the enjoyment of Nazi soldiers.)

Haunting melodies, emphasized by the isolated, tortured lyrics of its lead vocalist, Ian Curtis, became a trademark of the group. Ian Curtis, an epilepsy sufferer, was prone to breakdowns and seizures while on stage — it became difficult to distinguish the fits from his usual on-stage jerkiness and manic behavior.Two days before Joy Division was to embark on their first US tour (May 1980), singer Ian Curtis committed suicide by hanging.

Hear it: Blue Velvet & Black Coffee with Patrick, Tuesdays 2-4 p.m.

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