LEFT: Factory Icon © A recreation of Ian Curtis by the artist Slater Bradley. Photograph by Slater B Bradley.
Music changes steadily with time. Every now and then, a band comes along and grabs music by the throat, changes it instantly, and it goes off in a direction nobody thought of. Joy Division is such a band. Joy Division is one of the most inventive, evocative and influential groups of their era. Joy Division were formed in the late 1970's and dissolved May 18, 1980, following the suicide of lead singer-songwriter Ian Curtis.
People can easily point fingers at who's to blame for Ian's death. But no one knows what really went on in his head. It shocked and saddened the people around him. Fans went numb. Today, his doctors would be in prison for the ultra-toxic mix of meds they gave him. There was no effective or proper medicine for epilepsy at that time. Many epilepsy sufferers are getting better results from medicine made from cannabis extract than from the many government approved Big Pharma meds.
The remaining Joy Division band members went on to form New Order, and have achieved much critical and commercial success. The influence of Joy Division, however, is far reaching. They were a pioneering band of the post-punk movement of the late 70's and early 80's. What stands is the vast influence they had on British music in such a short time, and the world today. There's just something about Ian's eyes, like he's almost dead, but he keeps on fighting.
He's fighting himself.
GALLERY: Joy Division Rehearsing, Manchester, August 1979 © Mattehew Higgs.
Real artists express, and Ian was a real artist. Expression, for an artist is a lifeline. Losing it would not have stopped him from ending his already miserable and tortured life, on his own terms. Ian never wrote lyrics about his manager, the record company, the other band members,and he was one of the most direct artists that the world had seen. The truth is in the lyrics, not in one's narcissistic head. Ian chose to end life on his own terms, because things were NOT just "getting better.." That may be the most insulting thing you can say to somebody who is suicidal over having a broken life and pain that will not end. His lyrics say it all.
His band claims they had no clue about the words he wrote until after his death. Is it just excuses for their ignorance and how they turned a blind eye to the whole situation? This much you can bet on. Ian's doctor should have been held accountable. If that happened today, the Dr. would be in Club Fed. He'd get what Michael Jackson's doctor got. A few years ago, an epilepsy expert looked at the cocktail that Ian was on and almost fell out of his chair. The dosage and mix was destined to kill him. In Ian's day, there were no SSRI's. This is pre-Prozac. Antidepressants had much worse side effects then, and combined with epilepsy drugs, would have made it almost impossible to function.
Most people who have never fronted a band will never understand: on stage you are alone. No matter how tight you may be with your band mates, no matter how many allies you have in the audience, all that exists is the music and what it does to you. Ian Curtis was the embodiment of that dark phenomena. The strength and talent of their music still holds today with the best of them . Ian Curtis and Joy Division were ahead of their time and had real a authentic soul. The unreal becomes so fucking real. In chronological order, the lyrics of the last written song: "Hangman looks round as he waits, Cord stretches tight.. then it breaks.." Joy Division is immortal.. Another great young soul gone too soon. May 18th, 1980, the same date as the Mt. St. Helen's eruption.
She's lost control.