English rock group. Formed in 1978 by Ian Curtis (b Macclesfield, 15 July 1956; d 18 May 1980; vocals), Bernard Albrecht [Sumner] (Bernard Dicken; b Salford, 4 Jan 1956; electric guitar and vocals), Peter Hook (bManchester, 13 Feb 1956; bass guitar) and Steven Morris (b Macclesfield, 28 Oct 1957; drums), they were a cult group with considerable potential. Their gloomy, dystopian style, together with remarkable stage performances from Curtis (an epileptic who danced in a series of seizure-like stops and starts), made them perhaps the leading indie band at the time of Curtis's suicide. Their final album Closer (Factory, 1980) and single Love will tear us apart (1980) were, for some, the finest releases of the year.
The band continued under the guise of New Order and recruited Gillian Gilbert (b Manchester, 27 Jan 1961; keyboards). During the 1980s their pioneering work opened up guitar-based indie styles to contemporary dance music, predating the indie and dance music crossover later in the decade. Blue Monday, originally released in 1983, spent a total of 51 weeks in the UK charts in various re-released and remixed forms during the 1980s and 90s. Only with their seminal single True Faith (1987) and the album Technique (Factory, 1989) did the band become a mainstream chart phenomenon. The secret to their deserved success was the quality of their unusual and intricate melodies, married with Sumner's recognizable and vulnerable vocal style and Hook's toppy, well-crafted bass lines. After Republic (London, 1993) their continued popularity was clearly shown by the success of their compilation, The Best of New Order (London, 1994), which reached number four in the UK charts. In the mid-1990s New Order stopped recording together. Sumner concentrated on his side project, Electronic, with Johnny Marr (formerly of the Smiths), Hook formed Monaco and Gilbert recorded with Morris as The Other Two. However, the band reformed in 1998 to perform live and new material has been planned. For further information see D. Curtis: Touching from a Distance: Ian Curtis and Joy Division (London, 1995).