There isn’t much video footage of Joy Division out there. When frontman Ian Curtis committed suicide on May 18th, 1980, the group had only released one album, and they hadn’t once performed anywhere outside of Europe. Needless to say, the band’s legacy has grown with each passing year and it’s hard to walk down the streets of New York these days without seeing someone wearing an Unknown Pleasures T-shirt. Here’s an incredible video of the group performing “Transmission” on the BBC2 program Something Else on September 15th, 1979. The video begins with English performance poet John Cooper Clarke reciting his famous work “Evidently Chickentown.”
Curtis killed himself just eight months after this taping. At the time the group were on the verge of heading to America for their first stateside tour. “On Sunday morning I was turning my trousers up,” Joy Division drummer Stephen Morris told Rolling Stone in 1983. “Monday I was screaming.” The group famously carried on as New Order. “There’s life and there’s death,” Morris said. “We are still alive, so we thought we’d carry on doing it.”
New Order reformed in 1998 after a five-year hiatus and even started adding Joy Division songs to their live sets, but internal tensions led to another split in 2007. They’re back on the road now, minus bassist Peter Hook, who has spent the last couple of years playing Joy Division songs with a new group. It’s a very sad state of affairs for a group that had survived so much.