October 10, 2007
Ian Curtis is a fascinating figure in British music history. Recently, we have seen his story unfold in the great film 24 Hour Party People - though that film actually focused on the late, great Tony Wilson, music mogul extraordinaire. Wilson was the manager of Joy Division, which was the band that was frontlined by singer/lyricist Curtis.
Coming of age in 1970s Manchester, England, Curtis became fascinated by musical icons such as Iggy Pop, David Bowie and the Sex Pistols. Convinced that his own future was in performing, he hooked up with a couple of other chaps who themselves were finding influence in the Pistols - Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook. The group then went through a number of drummers before settling on Stephen Morris, and Joy Division was born. Soon, they were being managed by Wilson and gaining in popularity as they performed in Manchester clubs.
Curtis's songs were filled with the pain of humanity. He clearly was dealing with demons, and these demons became apparent in lyrics that centered on death, emotional difficulty and violence. When he performed on stage, his dancing looked a bit like epilepsy, which confused and concerned his audiences and bandmates as he actually suffered from the affliction.
At the age of 23, faced with impending divorce due to his own infidelity, Curtis became consumed by his own tortured soul. He commited suicide by hanging himself.
Control examines Curtis's life and is based on the autobiography written by his wife, Deborah Curtis. Since its debut at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, it has received numerous accolades as a masterful look at the life of a tortured genius. (Kim Hollis/BOP)