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Credit: Paul Hudson

Peter Hook recalls the first time Joy Division played 'Transmission' in Manchester


Yesterday saw the celebration of one of the best songs from a British rock band ever. As Joy Division’s ‘Transmission’ was released on October 7th 1979. The legendary Joy Division and New Order bassist told Radio X all about the first time the band played their enigmatic hit.

The track may have been released after Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures found its way on to the airwaves in the summer of 1979 but in fact, the song represented a different time for the band, it represented their frustrated and furious early beginnings. The song stands out as the moment Joy Division broke free from their restrictions and started to become one of the best bands on the planet.

Peter ‘Hooky’ Hook may have been the surly faced bassist of the band but he was also the figurative powerhouse. He represented the foot in the door, the unbridled determination to make it. He spoke with Radio X about the now iconic song: “The first time I noticed anything different was when we’d written a song that weekend. And we had a gig on the Thursday, so we thought we’d play that song at the gig,

[MORE] – Listen to the haunting isolated vocal of Ian Curtis on Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’

“We played the new song, which was Transmission – and everyone in the whole place stopped literally what they were doing to listen and to turn round and watch us. It was an absolutely bizarre moment. It really made the hair on your arms stand up and shivers down your spine.”

He continued to shed a light on the inner workings of the band. Hooky may have been the brawn but Ian Curtis, who sadly lost his battle to suicide in 1980, was most certainly the musical brain. Hooky remembers: “Everybody said we sounded like The Doors, and I remember saying to Ian Curtis one day, ‘Who ARE The Doors?’ I didn’t even know who they were talking about at all.

“He said, ‘Ohhhh, I’ll lend you an LP’. He leant me the Doors’ first LP, which as soon as I put it on, I nearly fell over because we DID sound like The Doors!

“So we thought, Bernard [Sumner, guitarist] and I, that it’d be funny to play a Doors song as a joke, as Joy Division, because of what everybody said. And we learnt ‘Riders On The Storm’.”

“We played it a couple of times and no-one noticed!”

Cue all of us at Far Out desperately trying to find that performance