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Famous Like Me > Composer > C > Ian Curtis

Profile of Ian Curtis on Famous Like Me

Name: Ian Curtis  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 15th July 1956
Place of Birth: Macclesfield, England, UK
Profession: Composer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia
Ian Curtis performing

Ian Kevin Curtis (July 15, 1956 – May 18, 1980) was a singer-songwriter born in Manchester, England. Curtis grew up in Hurdsfield (on the outskirts of Macclesfield, England), but lived most of his adult life in Macclesfield and attended King's School, Macclesfield.

He is notable as vocalist and lyricist of the band Joy Division, which he helped form in 1977 in Manchester, England.

Life and death

Curtis expressed his lyrics with movement

While performing for Joy Division, Curtis developed a unique dancing style reminiscent of the epileptic seizures he experienced later in life. The resemblance was such that audience members were occasionally uncertain whether he was dancing or having a seizure. He sometimes collapsed and had to be helped off stage as his health suffered due to Joy Division's intense touring. His wife was also an epileptic, which was said to have inspired him to write the song "She's Lost Control."

Many of the songs he wrote were filled with images of emotional suffering, death, violence and urban degeneration. These recurring subjects led fans and Curtis' wife to believe he was singing about his own life. Curtis once commented in an interview that he wrote about "the different ways different people can cope with certain problems and how they can adapt." He also sang in an eerie baritone voice, which made him sound much older than he actually was.

Curtis was greatly influenced by the writers William Burroughs and J G Ballard (the song titles "Interzone" and "Atrocity Exhibition" coming from the former and latter respectively), and by the singers Jim Morrison, Iggy Pop and David Bowie.

Curtis's last live performance was held in the same month as his death and included Joy Division's first and last performance of the song "Ceremony", which was later used by New Order. The last song Curtis ever performed in front of an audience was "Digital".

The effects of his epilepsy and personal problems, such as an impending divorce from his wife, Deborah Curtis, may have contributed to Curtis' suicide at the age of 23. The night Curtis died, days before Joy Division was to begin its first American tour, he watched one of his favourite movies, Stroszek by Werner Herzog. He later hanged himself in his kitchen while reportedly listening to Iggy Pop's The Idiot. Curtis' viewing and listening choices continue to generate speculation as to the true reasons why he took his life. Some commentators hold that he simply wished to die young, being "in love with the myth of the rock'n'roll star who dies young" .

Curtis was cremated and his ashes were buried in Macclesfield, with the inscription on his memorial stone reading, "Love Will Tear Us Apart." The epitaph, chosen by Deborah Curtis, is a reference to Joy Division's best-known song.


The remaining members of Joy Division formed New Order following Curtis' death. The band had agreed to not go on as Joy Division if one of the members were to leave, or die.

Psychic TV, a band led by performance artist and former Throbbing Gristle lead singer, Genesis P-Orridge, originally was to feature Curtis to some extent, but he committed suicide before the band could record or release their first album. P-Orridge later said he considered Curtis to be still a member of the band, "psychically". Psychic TV wrote a song about Curtis, "I.C. Water". It was released as single in 1990 and was also featured on the group's album Towards Thee Infinite Beat. The single featured Curtis on the cover and sampled a recording of him discussing The Velvet Underground in a pub.

In the mid-1990s, Deborah Curtis wrote Touching from a Distance, a biographical account of their marriage, in part detailing his infidelity, particularly with Belgian journalist Annik Honore.

Curtis was portrayed by Sean Harris in the 2003 film 24 Hour Party People, which dramatized the rise and fall of Factory Records in the 1970s and 80s.

In late 2004-early 2005, plans were made for a Ian Curtis biopic . The film, tentatively entitled Control will be based on material from Touching from a Distance. Popular rock photographer Anton Corbijn will direct while Deborah Curtis and former Factory Records head Anthony Wilson will be executive producers. Jude Law is a candidate to portray Curtis on film.

The band Thursday wrote an eponymous song about Ian Curtis which appeared on their 1999 album Waiting.

Further reading

  • Curtis, Deborah (1995). Touching from a Distance - Ian Curtis and Joy Division. Faber and Faber Limited. ISBN 0571174450.
  • Heylin, Clinton & Wood, Craig (1988). Joy Division: Form (and Substance). Sound Pub. ISBN 1871407001.
  • Middles, Mick (1996). From Joy Division to New Order Virgin Books. ISBN 0753506386.
  • Edge, Brian (1984). Pleasues and Wayward Distractions Omnibus Press. ISBN 0711914397
  • Johnson, Mark (1984). An Ideal For Living. An History of Joy Division Proteus Books. ISBN 0711910650

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Ian Curtis