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27 November 2020

Gillian Gilbert’s Part In New Order Has Been “Overlooked”, Says Johnny Marr

New Order Facts
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Johnny Marr has said he believes that Gillian Gilbert‘s contributions to New Order have not been properly appreciated.

Speaking on New Order’s Transmissions podcast, Marr said that having a female musician in the band was a big deal, particularly given the timing. He noted that, “this was 30 odd years ago, and they didn’t get in some well-known musician.”, when the band formed after the demise of Joy Division. Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris looked to Gillian to join the band. Gillian, who had been playing in an all-female punk band, The Inadequates, had rehearsed in a studio next to Joy Division. When New Order formed she was brought in on keyboards and guitar, as she knew the band already, and their sound.

Marr argued that Gillian Gilbert was particularly inspiring to young girls, who could see a female musician playing in a massively successful band and aspire to do the same. “She was very enigmatic”, he added. “I don’t really think in all the years that New Order’s story has been told that Gillian’s really been given the credit for what she did and what her joining that band meant to young people at the time”.

He also went on to acknowledge her legacy, saying, “I try to avoid using the word iconic too much but back in 1981 when they were on the cover of a magazine, she was uber cool. Nowadays we are so used to a band with a girl playing keyboards, quite rightly. She was the first to do that, as I remember it.”

Gilbert’s status as an inspiration for aspiring female musicians has also been argued by Welsh artist Kelly Lee Owens, who spoke to the NME about Gilbert’s influence on her own music. “Having Gillian as the synth queen was fucking amazing, speaking as a woman in music,” Owens told NME. “You can’t be what you can’t see, so to have a woman be a part of something like this and own her part was really inspiring.”

Johnny Marr is one of a number of famous musicians to discuss New Order, on the band’s podcast, Transmissions: The Definitive Story. The podcast, which is narrated by Maxine Peak, features interviews with Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, Gillian Gilbert and Peter Hook, as well as musicians including Karen O, Bono, Anna Calvi, and Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead.

The new podcast, Transmissions: The Definitive Story is available to listen on 29th October via Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Amazon Music, and other podcast platforms. The series was produced by Cup & Nuzzle.

You can catch up with the first three episodes of Transmissions: The Definitive Story Of Joy Division And New Order here

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