Rhino Factoids: Joy Division Makes Their Live Debut

Monday, January 25, 2016
Rhino Factoids: Joy Division Makes Their Live Debut

38 years ago today, Joy Division made their live debut at Pip's Disco in Manchester, England. It was not, however, the band's first performance, so we should probably offer a little bit of clarification as to exactly what the situation was.

The origins of Joy Division actually stretch back to July 20, 1976, when Ian Curtis and his wife, Deborah, attended the Sex Pistols' concert at Manchester's Lesser Free Trade Hall. As history reveals, it was one of those concerts where just about everyone in the audience went on to form their own band (see the film 24 Hour Party People for more information), but for the purposes of our story, the only other attendees worthy of specific mention are Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook, who were there a pal named Terry Mason.

Ian teamed up with those three guys, and the end result was a musical collective which initially had no name but eventually ended up being called Warsaw, which they stuck with from late May of 1977 until the early weeks of '78. They did not, however, stick with Terry Mason as a member of the band (his drumming abilities weren't up to snuff, so he ended up taking on the role of Warsaw's manager), which is how Stephen Morris eventually ended up behind the drum kit.

When Joy Division played their first gig under their new name, they were not what you'd call a rousing success: a fight broke out in the audience, which isn't the sort of thing that really draws people's attention to the stage. Thankfully, the band's short-term future proved bright: when they performed at the Stiff Records Test / Chiswick Challenge on April 14, they impressed Tony Wilson and Rob Gretton, earned TV exposure and a proper manager, and the rest is history.