ian curtis dead at 23 — 31 years ago today

In an unfortunate coincidence, unreleased New Order track “Hellbent” — from the forthcoming collection Total: From Joy Division To New Order — has surfaced on the 31st anniversary of Ian Curtis’ death.

On May 18, 1980, Curtis hanged himself in the kitchen of his parents’ home in Macclesfield. His body was discovered that morning by his wife, Deborah Woodruff. In his final hours, he had watched Werner Herzog‘s film Stroszek and listened to Iggy Pop‘s The Idiot. Curtis and Joy Division were scheduled to embark on their first US tour the following day.

As detailed in the films 24 Hour Party People and Control, Curtis was struggling with depression as a result of his increasingly frequent epileptic seizures and the failing of his marriage following an affair with journalist Annik Honoré.

Joy Division’s final live show was May 2, 1980 at Birmingham University’s Chamberlain Hall. Here’s “A Means To And End” from that performance:

That night was also the only time “Ceremony” was performed live by Joy Division. That version appears on Still, but here’s a superior version recorded during a rehearsal in Manchester prior to the show:

Finally, here’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” which is the inscription on Curtis’ headstone:

RIP, Ian.

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