Read Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division Online

Authors: Peter Hook

Tags: #Punk, #Personal Memoirs, #Music, #Biography & Autobiography, #Genres & Styles, #Composers & Musicians

Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division


Also by Peter Hook

The Hacienda: How Not to Run a Club

First published in Great Britain by Simon & Schuster UK Ltd, 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Peter Hook

Image credits: page 9, top: Kevin Cummins © Getty Images; page 9 bottom: Attempts have been made to track down the copyright holder to no avail; page 14, bottom: © Christopher Hewitt; page 15, top: Pierre Rene Worms; endpapers: Kevin Cummins © Getty Images

This book is copyright under the Berne Convention.
No reproduction without permission.
All rights reserved.

The right of Peter Hook to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.

Simon & Schuster UK Ltd
1st Floor
222 Gray’s Inn Road
London WC1X 8HB

Simon & Schuster Australia, Sydney
Simon & Schuster India, New Delhi

A CIP catalogue record for this book
is available from the British Library

ISBN: 978-0-85720-215-4 (Hardback)
ISBN: 978-0-85720-216-1 (Trade Paperback)
eBook ISBN: 978-0-85720-217-8

Typeset in the UK by M Rules
Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4YY

Dedicated, with love, to my mother Irene
and her sister, Jean.



Prologue: January 1978

Part One: ‘Insight’

‘For seventeen days that’s all we had: chicken and chips’

‘You can take the boy out of Salford but you can’t take Salford out of the boy’

‘Barney would always eat on his own or in the bath’

‘Oh, fuck, it’s Steve Harley’

Timeline One: May 1948–April 1976

Part Two: ‘Disorder’

‘Normal band, normal night, few people watching, clap-clap, very good’

‘Is that a bass guitar?’

‘He was just a kid with “Hate” on his coat’

‘He was one of us’

‘I can’t actually think of anything less “us” than a wet-towel fight’

‘The twats were flicking the Vs up’

‘Apart from the odd pint pot in the gob it was a good gig’

‘Even the shit ones were pretty good’

‘I told him exactly where he could stick his vibrators’

Timeline Two: June 1976–December 1977

Part Three: ‘Transmission’

‘It was like
The X Factor
for punks’

‘We need to get rid of this Nazi artwork’

‘The biggest rain of spit I’ve ever seen in my life’

Timeline Three: January 1978–December 1978

Part Four: ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’

‘Peter’s fell off his chair again’

‘Fuck. Martin’s got a boot full of stolen car radios’

‘It sounds like a fucking helicopter’

‘He was looking for that spark’

‘Not that I’d change anything’

‘Stop fucking moaning, Hooky’

‘I just went for a piss’

‘You shouldn’t trust a word I say’

‘Bring it on’

‘Turned out to be horse meat’

‘He’s possessed by the devil, that twat’

Unknown Pleasures
Track by Track

Timeline Four: January–December 1979

Part Five: ‘Ceremony’

‘A right mother hen’

‘We carried on’

‘He thought we were pricks – and how right he was’

‘His mum got the blood out by washing it in a bath of salt water’

‘We were so excited about going to America’

‘I never said goodbye’


Track by Track

Timeline Five: January1980–October 1981



List of Illustrations

This book is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth . . . as I remember it!

Peter Hook, 2012


It’s a strange life. Normally I don’t include any other people in my writing. Everyone remembers the same things completely differently. The contradictions really confuse you and spoil everything, making you question yourself and what happened. I proved it to myself by letting a very close friend see what I had written. He replied with a great comment: ‘What’s the point of all this?’

So, answers on a postcard, please.



January 1978

Our first gig as Joy Division and it ended in a fight. Typical.

Not our first gig. Before that we’d been called Warsaw but, for reasons I’ll explain later, we couldn’t carry on being called Warsaw so we’d had to think of a new name. Boys in Bondage was one of the many suggestions and we very nearly went with another, the Slaves of Venus, which just goes to show how desperate we were getting.

It was Ian who suggested Joy Division. He found it in a book he was reading,
House of Dolls
, by Ka-Tzetnik 135633. He then passed it round for all of us to read. In the book, ‘Joy Divisions’ was the name given to groups of Jewish women kept in the concentration camps for the sexual pleasure of the Nazi soldiers. The oppressed, not the oppressors. Which in a punky, ‘No Future’ sort of way was exactly what we were trying to say with the name. It was a bit like Slaves of Venus, except not crap.

So that was decided: we were Joy Division. Little did we know what we were letting ourselves in for, that for years people would be asking us, ‘Are you Nazis?’

‘No. We’re not fucking Nazis. We’re from Salford.’

So anyway, we had this gig at Pips Discotheque (formerly Nice ‘N’ Easy) on Fennel Street in Manchester. It was our first official gig as Joy Division, though it had been advertised as Warsaw (the name change came over Christmas), and we were pretty excited come the night – me especially, because that day I’d been out and bought a brand-new guitar.

I’d been paranoid about my old one since recording our EP
An Ideal for Living
. Barney had told me it was out of tune between the F and the G. I didn’t know what that meant but it sounded serious. So I’d saved up for a new one, a Hondo II, Rickenbacker Stereo Copy (I beat the guy down from £99 to £95) and tonight was its debut. Not only that but I had a lot of mates coming to see us – the Salford lot, we’ll call them: Alex Parker and his brother, Ian, Twinny, and all the lads from the Flemish Weaver on Salford Precinct, my local.

Before the show started Ian Curtis had been listening to
TransEurope Express
by Kraftwerk over the PA. He loved that record. He must have given it to the DJ to play as our intro music, and I’m not sure if he was planning to get up on stage from the dance floor, or what he was intending to do really, but he was on the dance floor and he was sort of kicking broken glass around as
Trans-Europe Express
playing. Kind of kicking it and moving round to the music at the same time.

We already knew Ian was driven, and recently we’d been seeing how volatile he could sometimes be. He was going through a phase of acting up a bit, shall we say. A frontman thing, of course, and partly his Iggy Pop fascination, but also frustration – frustration that we weren’t getting anywhere, that other Manchester bands were doing better than us, getting more gigs than us. The Drones had an album out. The Fall, the Panik and Slaughter & the Dogs all had singles out, and their records weren’t all muffled and shit-sounding like ours. To cap it all, here we were, our first gig as Joy Division, and only about thirty people had turned up – twenty of them my mates.

All of this got to me, Steve and Bernard, too, of course, but Ian had it worse than we did. Probably because we all lived with our parents but he was married, so maybe the group felt more like real life for him somehow, more like something he
to make work.

Or perhaps I’m talking out my arse. Maybe Ian was just kicking glass because he was pissed and felt like it. Not that it mattered anyway: the bouncer didn’t care whether Ian was developing his stage persona or acting out his career frustration or what. He just saw a twat kicking broken glass. He stormed over, grabbed him by the scruff of the neck, marched him to the door and threw him out.

Great. Someone came and told us; so, instead of going on, the three of us had to go to the door and beg the bouncer to let him back in.

He was going, ‘Fuck off, he’s a wanker kicking broken glass round . . .’ and we were going, ‘Yeah, but that wanker’s our singer, mate – he’s the singer of our band – you’ve got to let him in. Come on, mate . . .’

Eventually, and after much begging, the bouncer relented and let Ian back in, and at last we got on stage, about twenty minutes late, looked out into the crowd – if you can call it that – and there were all my mates right at the front going, like, ‘Hiya, Hooky. Are you all right, Hooky?’ grinning at me and giving me the thumbs-up. I was thinking that it was nice of them to turn up, but the grinning and thumbs-upping I could have done without. In Joy Division we were very serious. We were more into scowling.

Meanwhile Barney was giving me daggers, like, ‘Your mates better behave themselves.’ Ian as well, the cheeky bastards.

Then Ian went, ‘Right, we’re here now. We’re Joy Division and this
is . . . “‘Exercise One’”,’ and I struck a pose with my brand-new Hondo II and hit the first note of the first song, an open E.

Except that instead of the first note of ‘Exercise One’ there was a massive
sound, and everyone looked at me.

Oh, fuck
. The string had flipped off the guitar. I pushed it back over the nut so it clicked into the hole and hit it again.


It jumped out again.

Fuck, fuck, fuck-a-duck.

It was a fault on the guitar, honest. I had to hold the string in with my thumb and my finger as I was playing. I was just getting to the point of mastering that when I looked down and saw Alex Parker, who was a very good friend of mine, and his brother Ian all of a sudden start fighting.

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