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Music

The letter John Frusciante wrote thanking Bernard Sumner

@TomTaylorFO

In the years that have followed the sad end of Joy Division, they have been imbued with a dark mystique that their atmospheric music no doubt adds to immensely. However, in truth, they were merely working-class lads after a lark about like a fair chunk of the punk scene and travelled about with more of a sanguine booze-fuelled buzz than most.

In some ways, the same could be said of John Frusciante as many people who have seen the dark videos of his heroin addiction days and heard the scratchy horror that he concocted have the image of him at his very worst scarred on the memory. However, this is not a true reflection of the guitarist as a whole, and that is always worth remembering. 

Back in 2017, this connection stretched beyond the pair’s perception, when a letter that was penned to Bernard Sumner and his wife Sarah Dalton ended up on eBay when it was listed by the Chili Peppers road manager Louie Matheu. The handwritten piece began: “It was great seeing you and meeting Sarah. It’s too bad I got sick when I would have had the chance to come up to Bath.”

Continuing: “It was really nice of you to invite me. I obviously would have been very honoured to play on the stuff you are doing and if you still want me to, you could send me a CD which I could play to on a computer in my home studio and send you back the file. I realize some people have reservations about that style of working and rightfully so.”

Before adding: “Nevertheless, the thought of missing a chance to play on a New Order record is a bummer and were it not for my close friend dying of cancer in LA, I would have looked into extending my trip to pay you a visit. Either way, it was a nice thought and I am thrilled that you ever entertained the idea.”

And touchingly concluding: “It also made me so happy that you and Hooky [Joy Division and New Order bassist Peter Hook] came to the show. Thanks. Louis tried to E-mail you to get your street address or PO Box so we can send you that book we were talking about but he got no reply. And obviously, if you want to get in touch you can communicate with me at this address. All my love, John.”

Matheu accompanied the eBay listing with the following explanation as to how the letter came into his care: “This note was faxed to Bernard. JF was little attached to material things. In fact, his Grammy came to my house, he looked at it and giggled, shrugged his shoulders, didn’t so much as touch it and left it in my care. He would often leave his personal effects behind in hotels and dressing rooms with little if any thought to their value or import…this is from my personal collection.”

In the end, Frusciante also ended up working with New Order on ‘New Dawn Fades’ for the soundtrack for 24 Hour Party People; the film that documented the riotous Madchester scene of the Hacienda days.