Ian Curtis Biography 1956-1980
Ian Curtis ended his life before he could feel the range of his influence. As the singer/songwriter for Joy Division, Curtis wallowed in his own deep despair until he saw no purpose in living. Beginning with Warsaw in 1977, Curtis peered into the dark underbelly of human existence; bellowing his grim lyrics with Iggy Pop’s punk rage, Curtis directed the Sex Pistols’ explosive anger inward. Warsaw quickly became Joy Division, and Curtis’ deep, despondent voice and morose, personal songwriting achieved massive critical acclaim with the release of Joy Division’s first LP, Unknown Pleasures, in 1979. Onstage, Curtis’ unbridled intensity and odd, violent body movements — a reflection of his epileptic seizures — captivated audiences. In 1980, Joy Division recorded Closer, a haunting masterpiece that symbolized the genesis of gothic rock. In Closer, Curtis wrote lyrics of unrelenting sadness and hopelessness. “This is a crisis I knew had to come/Destroying the balance I’d kept,” Curtis sang on “Passover,” hinting at his eventual suicide. On May 18, 1980, Curtis hanged himself in his wife’s kitchen. In the mid-’90s, Curtis’ widow Deborah Curtis wrote “Touching From a Distance,” a biographical account of her marriage to him, detailing how he had a relationship with another woman that ended before he killed himself. From artists as diverse as the Cure and Nirvana, Curtis has inspired countless musicians to bravely explore and express their inner pain.