Both music maven Johno and I fell asleep at the wheel. We forgot to write anything up about the twenty-fifth anniversary of the suicide of Ian Curtis, the epileptic lead singer of Joy Division, the first great post-punk band.

When I started listening to Joy Division, they were a mysterious band. I was big into New Order, just starting to play the guitar and bass, just a teenager in the middle of Los Angeles. One day I drove over to Melrose Avenue. I didn’t have my driver’s license yet, just a learners permit. A friend had just introduced me to Cocteau Twins, and I was hungry for more.

At the record store, Bleaker Bob’s, I found that another record was filed away under New Order. The cover was mysterious: an ethereal black and white print of a mourning scene. In my idiocy, I thought the name of the band was Closer. I bought it for the import record for the insane price of $12.

When I got home, I played the record on the only turntable in the house. The music was dark, fragmented, depressing. I stood close to the stereo so that I could turn it off as quickly as possible.

Closer was one of a few albums that influenced my early guitar playing (along with Cocteau Twins’ Treasure, Roxy Music’s Country Life, King Crimson’s Starless and Bible Black, X’s More Fun in the New World). These albums (with the exception of the last) were all obscure: information about the bands was difficult to come by in the US in the mid-1980s. They were, however, my entry into the world of Goth: dark clothes, dark makeup, even a long skirt or two. Now info is easy to find, and I care less about by Goth credibility.

I sang Digital at a gig on the tenth anniversary, May 18, 1990. I was the guitar player for a band called The Four Humours (the other members were all English lit people, hence the reference). Our singer passed on the vocal, and it fell to me (actually, she passed on Atmosphere, so I picked a song that was easier to sing). I didn’t do too badly with the vocal chore: it was before I smoked. And I think I was dressed just like Mr. Curtis in the photo above. A year later I sat in on a local band’s recording of Disorder. And there were numerous times when I was accused of using too much reverb on my flatly distorted Strat.

[Photo removed 6/20/2008 for bandwidth limitations.]

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