Monday, May 18, 2009

29 Years Ago Today: Ian Curtis commits suicide...

Ian Kevin Curtis (July 15th, 1956 – May 18th, 1980) was the vocalist and lyricist, as well as occasional guitarist and keyboardist, of the band Joy Division, which he joined in 1976 after meeting with Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook at a Sex Pistols gig.

Years after his death, critics and fans continue to write and discuss at length Curtis's music, as well as possible motivations and inspirations for his work. News of his suicide in 1980 spurred many rumours, further accelerating interest in his work and troubled life.

Curtis's last live performance was on May 2, 1980 at Birmingham University, a show that included Joy Division's first and only performance of the song "Ceremony", later recorded by New Order and released as their first single. The last song Curtis performed on stage was "Digital". The recording of this performance can be found on the compilation album 'Still'.

Detailed in Debbie Curtis's book Touching from a Distance, Curtis was staying at his parents' house at this time and attempted to talk his wife into staying with him on May 17, 1980, to no avail. Debbie left him in her house overnight while she left to do some errands. Genesis P-Orridge of Throbbing Gristle claimed in a 2006 interview that Curtis would sometimes phone him during the night and sing the Throbbing Gristle song "Weeping" — a song about suicide — to him.

In the early hours of May 18, 1980, Curtis hanged himself in the kitchen of his house in Macclesfield. He had just viewed Werner Herzog's film Stroszek and listened to Iggy Pop's 'The Idiot'. At the time of his death, his health was failing as a result of the epilepsy and attempting to balance his musical ambitions with his marriage, which was foundering in the aftermath of his affair with journalist Annik Honoré. His wife found his body the next morning.

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