Joy Division

Essential Albums

Artist Playlists

More To Hear

About Joy Division

It all started in 1976 when guitarist Bernard Sumner posted an ad in a Manchester, England record shop: "Band seeks singer." Ian Curtis answered the call, joining Sumner, bassist Peter Hook, and later, drummer Stephen Morris to form what would become arguably the most influential post-punk band in the world. They re-christened themselves Joy Division—a grim Third Reich reference—after their original name, Warsaw, proved too close to that of London punk band Warsaw Pakt. The group earned enough buzz from their manic live shows, dominated by Curtis’ intense stage presence, that in 1979, John Peel invited them to record a session for his prestigious BBC radio show. Later that year, they headed into the studio with producer Martin Hannett and emerged with Unknown Pleasures, a brilliantly bleak masterpiece. Visceral songs like “She’s Lost Control” and “New Dawn Fades” merged a stripped-down punk ethos with sound effects, synthesizers, and Curtis’ booming, dark baritone and heart-on-sleeve lyrics. Not only was the sound groundbreaking, but the minimalist duochrome cover art found by Sumner and finished by Peter Saville became instantly iconic. The band toured relentlessly throughout 1979, before heading back to the studio. As they worked on their second LP, Closer, they released "Love Will Tear Us Apart," a soaring yet nihilistic love song, in 1980. Days before the group were slated to start their first U.S. tour, Curtis died by suicide. In the wake of Curtis’ death, the band’s albums entered the charts, and "Love Will Tear Us Apart" became the group's first hit. It was cold comfort for the trio, who broke up and reformed as New Order, picking up where Joy Division left off before blazing a trail all their own.

Salford, England
January 1978
Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada