I hadn’t yet come to terms with. As things turned sour for both Factory and New Order, it was hard not to feel that his death remained unresolved for the 'main participants. It seemed like a good time to tell his story. I contacted Curtis’s group manager, label owner and wife, Bernard Sumner, Peter. Hook, Stephen Morris, Rob Gretton, Tony Wilson, Deborah Curtis – and they all, except Gretton who hardly.ever does, agreed to speak.
   In her biography, Touching from a Distance, Deborah Curtis writes about the reality behind the performance, the fact that Ian's mesmeric style mirrored the ever more fre- quent epileptic spasms that she had to cope with at home: as she says now, “People admired him for the things that were destroying him”. Ian Curtis’s death was a personal tragedy with wider implications: couldn’t it have been pre- vented? Was what we thought to be artistic exorcism sheer, unrelenting autobiography? Where did such dark- ness come from and why did we so willingly enter it?

   Joy Division began, as did so much else, on the fourth of June, 1976. Invited by the fledgling Buzzcocks, the Sex Pistols played their first Northern date in a tiny hall above Manchester’s Free Trade Hall. In a super 8 film shot that day, Johnny Rotten twists around the small stage in an already stylised ritual of aggression and withdrawal. "It was dead exciting and dead heavy, real laddish", says Peter Hook. "Something was happening and the music was secondary".
"I went with Hooky and Terry Mason, our roadie", says Bernard Sumner. "He’d read somewhere about the Sex Pistols having a fight onstage and he dragged us down to see them. I didn't think they were good: I thought they were bad, that’s why I liked it. I thought they destroyed the myth of being a pop star, of a musician being some kind of god that you had to worship.
   "I first me Ian at the Electric Circus. It might have been the Anarchy tour, or The Clash. Ian was with another lad called Ian, and they both had donkey jackets: Ian had 'HATE’ written on the back of his but I remember liking him. He seemed pretty nice, but we didn’t talk to him that much. About a month later when we decided to try to find a singer – because Hooky and I had formed a group – we put an ad in Virgin Records: Ian rang up and I said, Right, OK: we didn’t even audition him.
   "Ian brought a direction. He was into the extremities of life. He wanted to make extreme music: he wanted to be totally extreme onstage, no half measures. Ian’s influence seemed to be madness and insanity. He said that a mem- ber of his family had worked in a mental home and she used to tell him things about the people there: people with 20 nipples or two heads, and it made a big impression on him. Park of the time when Joy Division were forming, he worked in a rehabilitation centre for people with physical and mental difficulties, trying to find work. He was very affected by them".
   Ian Curtis was born on the fifteenth of July 1956, the
elder son: his father worked in the Transport Police. During his teens, his parents moved from Hurdsfield on the outskirts of Macclesfield to the huge '60s blocks of Victoria Park, near the station. Although only just beyond the furthest Manchester suburbs, Macclesfield is an older, small town, where the looming Pennines offer both an escape and a witchy emptiness: “It’s actually quite nice, the hills around”, says Sumner. “But if you drive round there on a winter night, and I’ve done it, you won’t see a soul on the street”.
   According to Deborah Curtis, who met him when he was 16, Ian had a normal bohemian adolescence. Like many teens growing up in the early ’70s, he was fired by David Bowie, who placed in pop culture a whole set of self–destructive references both musical and literary: Jacques Brel, Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, William Burroughs. At the time, this seemed like little more than the standard teenage dramatisation of misery: after leaving the King’s School, Curtis went to work every day and, in August 1975, got married. It seemed as though he was settling down.
   With hindsight, its now clear that things went deeper. When he was 14, Ian would, like many teens do today, raid the medicine cabinets of anyone they visited, and try out the combination of drugs as a leisure option. In the sum- mer of 1972, there was an ambiguous overdose with his friend Oliver Cheaver, where both boys had their stomachs pumped: overdose or suicide attempt? “I think he wanted