Ian Curtis

Ian Curtis was born in Old Trafford, Manchester, at the Memorial Hospital. He grew up listening to The Who and The Rolling Stones, and other heroes of his teenage years included David Bowie, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, and James Dean. He especially liked musicians whose lyrics spoke of death, or those who had died at their peak. He attended the King's School in Macclesfield, where he took his first overdose with a friend. During their customary "social services" hours on Wednesdays, they would visit the homes of elderly pensioners, and would usually take drugs out of their medicine cabinets. With friend Oliver Cleaver, Ian took an accidental overdose of chlorpromazine hydrochloride, brand name Largactil, which was used to treat schizophrenia. Both had their stomachs pumped, and were kept from being expelled when Oliver said he had been trying to kill himself.

Ian met his future wife Deborah in 1972. After he quit school and his family moved to New Moston, Manchester, Ian stopped experimenting with drugs. He and Deborah were married on August 23, 1975. During several moves from different houses, Ian and Deborah spent short periods of time living in his grandparents' basement. On 20 July 1976, Ian saw the Sex Pistols play at the Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall. He had missed their first show, but was inspired just as much by the second. Always having been a music fan, Ian felt driven to join a band. After moving back to Macclesfield, Ian found his place in the band Joy Division, then called Warsaw. The band consisted of Bernard Sumner on guitar, Peter Hook on bass, and Stephen Morris on drums. During the years of 1977-1980, the band took off and became a part of Tony Wilson's label, Factory records. They released one EP, "An Ideal for Living," in January 1977, and two official albums: "Unknown Pleasures" in June 1979, and "Closer," released posthumously in July 1980. Ian first discovered that he suffered from epilepsy in December 1978, while his wife was pregnantwith their daughter Natalie. The pills he took to help his epilepsy are believed by many to be the cause of Ian's intense depression from that point up until his death. Another major contributing factor was Ian's ongoing affair with a woman named Annik Honore, who he first met in late 1979. With a wife and daughter at home, Ian usually saw Annik at Joy Division gigs and on their tours, where wives were not allowed. On April 7, 1980, Ian took an overdose of Phenobarbitone, which he announced to his wife. She rushed him to the hospital. He had his stomach pumped, and was pronounced not suicidal. The day following his suicide attempt, he performed with Joy Division at Derby Hall, Bury. Ian had only sung two songs when a riot broke out. Tony Wilson found Ian crying upstairs, and to comfort him, reminded him about the Lou Reed gig at the Free Trade Hall where there had also been a bottle-throwing riot. The last Joy Division performance was May 2, at Birmingham University. Ian spent the last few months of his life moving back and forth between other people's houses, rarely staying at home. When he did return home, it was to watch the film Stroszek (1977), by one of his heroes, Werner Herzog. He had been living with his parents at the time, and wouldn't want to upset them by watching such a dark film. He wrote a letter to his wife Deborah, which spoke of the troubles in his life, and the love he felt for her and Natalie. He did write that he wished he was dead, but did not speak of any intentions to kill himself. After this, he is believed to have taken photographs of his daughter and wife down to look at, and to have listened to Iggy Pop's "The Idiot." He was discovered in the morning by his wife, Deborah, having committed suicide by hanging. The date of his death was May 18, 1980.

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