Ian Curtis was ‘an inspiration to people looking for something in life’, says Peter Hook

The Joy Division frontman passed away 35 years ago this week

Former Joy Division bassist Peter Hook has spoken about the legacy of the post-punk band’s late frontman Ian Curtis, who passed away 35 years ago this week.

Curtis took his own life on May 18, 1980. Bands including Django Django, Slaves and Everything Everything spoke about their feelings for the frontman in an NME video tribute to mark the milestone.

Hook has discussed the band’s legacy with BBC Radio 4. He said, “We were the Manchester post-punk poets. Ian was a fantastic lyricist and a wonderful, wonderful frontman. I think he’s just an inspiration to people, especially when they’re at an age where they’re looking for something in life.”

He continued, “I’ve become an ambassador, if you like, not only for Manchester but for Ian. Ian was such a wonderful man. He was caught in a mental illness that he suffered from greatly and couldn’t control. I suppose [I] just do [my] little bit to show how good he was, what a nice guy he was, what normal human being he was and how, with a little bit of help, you can get through anything… He was only 23, same as me, and it was an unbelievable thing to do through. I’ve lost many friends since and seen people lose friends, so you just try to do your little bit [to help] if you can.”

Addressing the notion of his former band’s music being regarded as “gloomy”, Hook added, “I never found [Joy Division] gloomy because I found it intensely exciting, intensely exotic and very, very moving… I just played in Mexico last week and we had four thousand people, most of them aged 18-21, and they weren’t gloomy, they were going bananas.”

Listen to the interview in full beneath.

Last night (May 18), Hook performed the complete works of Joy Division at Christ Church in Macclesfield, Curtis’ hometown. Hook and his current band, The Light, played every single song the band recorded in chronological order, including both studio albums ‘Unknown Pleasures’ and ‘Closer’ and the posthumously released ‘Still’ as well as B-sides and rarities. All proceeds from the show are to go to The Epilepsy Society and The Churches Conservation Trust with the donation to the CCT earmarked for the redevelopment of Christ Church.

Speaking to NME recently, Hook explained that he feels Joy Division’s legacy was somewhat neglected due to the subsequent success of the band as New Order. He said: “When we were together as New Order, it seemed OK to ignore Joy Division. The very fact that we concentrated on New Order made us a huge international success. If we’d tried to be Joy Division it wouldn’t have had the outcome it did. It was only after we split up in 2006 that it struck me that Joy Division were a huge force to be reckoned with, all round the world, and we’d never celebrated anything to do with it at all. That seemed weird. During the last five years I’ve been all around the world playing Joy Division’s music, and the crowds have been full of young people who’ve been turned on to the power and the beauty of Ian’s words and Joy Division’s music.”

Of the Macclesfield show, Hook added: “It’s a bit of a marathon! It’s 48 songs, comprising all the singles, B-sides, and album tracks. You know what – there’s not a duff one in it! I wish I could say that about New Order!”