2: They almost lost drummer Stephen Morris to The Fall
While still Warsaw, the band played with several short-term drummers before Stephen Morris joined and their classic line-up fell into place in August 1977. However, they nearly missed out on recruiting their ideal fourth member as Morris spotted no less than three “drummer wanted” adverts in his local Macclesfield music shop.
One of the other groups hiring was The Fall, but as Warsaw’s contact was local (Ian Curtis had left his home number with the ad), Morris decided to call Warsaw first. He was glad he did. “I’d had a lot of, ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you,’ but it was really weird with Warsaw. Everything just clicked,” he said in a 2019 Record Collector feature.
3: Ian Curtis named his dog after one of The Velvet Underground’s best songs
Before Ian Curtis’ baby daughter, Natalie, was born, he and his wife, Deborah, lived at home with a dog called Candy, which Ian named after The Velvet Underground’s classic song, Candy Says. The couple acquired Candy after Deborah’s previous dog, Tess, had to be put to sleep. Candy was a border collie and they got her from a local animal sanctuary.
According to Deborah, Ian readily volunteered to walk Candy. She wrote in her book, Touching From A Distance: “I can still see them together – a lanky young man being pulled along, arm outstretched, by a panting, over-excited dog.”
4: Joy Division played to an audience of one at an early gig in Yorkshire
Once they’d rebranded as Joy Division and began playing outside of Manchester, the band built up a strong following in a number of Yorkshire cities, including Leeds, Sheffield and Bradford. However, in arguably the most surprising of Joy Division facts, the group once performed a live show to just one person at The Coach House in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, in September 1978. “It was diabolical, Peter Hook recalled in his book, Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division.
5: Financial hardship played the decisive role in Kevin Cummins’ iconic photos of the band
Joy Division’s image is arguably defined by photographer Kevin Cummins’ legendary image of the group standing in the snow in the distance on Manchester’s Princess Parkway in January 1979. However, necessity was the mother of invention on the day. “I only had two rolls of film, as that was all I could afford, so I had to make every frame count,” Cummins told The Guardian in 2011. “There were three takes of this setup: one upright and two horizontal. Every few minutes they were complaining about the cold.
“It was a totally different city back then. It looks like Eastern Europe. I’ve noticed that when students move to Manchester they have their picture taken on the bridge. It’s an honour that people feel the photograph defines the city and the band.”
6: Island Records tried their best to sign the group
Highly impressed by Joy Division’s debut album, Unknown Pleasures, Island Records’ then-recently recruited A&R man Nick Stewart headed to Manchester to meet the Factory Records team with a view to signing the band. The meeting was genial enough, but Stewart was nonetheless rebuffed by the band’s manager, Rob Gretton, who made it clear Joy Division weren’t for sale. His journey wasn’t entirely wasted, however, as he secured fellow Factory act The Distractions’ services for Island – and he then went on to sign U2.
7: Martin Hannett drove the band (and himself) crazy mixing Love Will Tear Us Apart
The timelessness of Joy Division’s signature hit speaks eloquently for itself, but achieving the song’s full potential almost drove the band and their mercurial producer to distraction. After everyone rejected the original recording from Oldham’s Pennine Studios in January 1980 (that version later appeared on the single’s flipside, and on the compilation album Substance), the band tried again. Extremely fraught sessions at Stockport’s Strawberry Studios resulted in the official version of Love Will Tear Us Apart, but producer Martin Hannett still wasn’t able to let it go.
“He was never satisfied with the mix,” Peter Hook wrote in Substance: Inside New Order, shining a light on one of the more amusing Joy Division facts. “He would redo the mix every time he could. It only ended when Tony Wilson told all the studio owners in England that he would not pay for any more mixes done on that song, anywhere.”