Today (May 18) marks the 35th anniversary of Ian Curtis’ tragic death. We asked musicians to explain what the Joy Division frontman meant to them.
The Killers’ Brandon Flowers said: “Lyrically he’s someone that I’ve always looked up to. He always maintained a great integrity… he was always very powerful and very concise. I’m envious of him for that.”
Pavement guitarist Spiral Stairs is also a big Ian Curtis fan: “It’s all about [Joy Division’s] sound for me, you can listen to it now and there’s nothing like it.”
“Joy Division arrived at a point where ordinary people became interesting and it wasn’t about dinosaurs in their private jets.” (Tom Fleming, Wild Beasts).
“Recently, I’ve been listening to a load of Joy Division and I have been thinking what a great band we were and how it’s a shame he wasn’t around to see how successful we’ve become. He’d have loved it.” (Stephen Morris, Joy Division/New Order).
“I started a Joy Division covers band when I was 17 – I really do think he’s the greatest lyricist rock has ever seen.” (Moby).
“They [Joy Division] were the epitome of that kind of post-punk attitude and style…The sound they made for the first 20 mintures while they were warming up was an imposing kind of dystopian inner-city sound.” (Johnny Marr, The Smiths).
“It’s all about that voice. He owns that baritone register. He closed the book on it. No-one else can sing like that.” (Adam Anderson, Hurts programmer).
“I wanted to shake their hands. But nobody would do it…But they [Joy Division] liked what I did because I made the photo shoot more conceptual instead of just a document. It was only after the shoot that they – and Ian – finally shook my hand.” (Anton Corbijn, Joy Division photographer).
“The work that he left behind really had the ability to touch your heart. That’s soemthing that nobody can take away from him. It’s timeless.” (Brandon Flowers, The Killers).
“I’ve a feeling he was the kind of guy who’d have done a Syd Barrett and disappeared, taken a step back from music.” (Simon Neil, Biffy Clyro).
“I sometimes wonder whether Joy Division would have become the new U2, the rock band that Hooky and Bernard wanted them to be.” (Kevin Cummins, Joy Division photographer).
“We’d hit record, the track would start and there’d be no vocal. All we’d hear is him lighting a cigarette…It happened like that every time.” (Chris Nagle, Joy Division engineer)
“He was really into writing… and he’d have liked the cult appeal to Joy Division because those were the sort of things he was into.” (Stephen Morris, Joy Division/New Order).