Joy Division were an English rock band formed in 1976 in Salford, Greater Manchester. The band consisted of singer-songwriter Ian Curtis, guitarist and keyboardist Bernard Sumner, bassist Peter Hook and drummer Stephen Morris.
Sumner and Hook formed the band after attending a Sex Pistols concert. While their early recordings were heavily influenced by early punk, they soon developed a unique style that made them one of the pioneers of the post-punk movement. Their self-released 1978 debut EP, An Ideal for Living, drew the attention of the Manchester television personality Tony Wilson, who signed them to his independent label Factory Records. Their debut album Unknown Pleasures, recorded with producer Martin Hannett, was released in 1979.
Curtis suffered from personal problems including a failing marriage, depression, and epilepsy. As the band's popularity grew, Curtis's condition made it increasingly difficult for him to perform; he occasionally experienced grand mal seizures on stage. He hanged himself on the eve of the band's first American tour in May 1980, aged 23. Joy Division's second and final album, Closer, was released two months later; it and single "Love Will Tear Us Apart" became their highest charting releases.
On 20 July 1976, childhood friends Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook separately attended a Sex Pistols show at the Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall. Both were inspired by the Pistols' performance. Sumner said that he felt the Pistols "destroyed the myth of being a pop star, of a musician being some kind of god that you had to worship". The following day Hook borrowed £35 from his mother to buy a bass guitar. They formed a band with Terry Mason, who had also attended the gig; Sumner bought a guitar, and Mason a drum kit. After their schoolfriend Martin Gresty declined an invitation to join as vocalist after getting a job at a factory, the band placed an advertisement for a vocalist in the Manchester Virgin Records shop. Ian Curtis, who knew them from earlier gigs, responded and was hired without audition. Sumner said that he "knew he was all right to get on with and that's what we based the whole group on. If we liked someone, they were in."
Buzzcocks manager Richard Boon and frontman Pete Shelley have both been credited with suggesting the band name "Stiff Kittens", but the band settled on "Warsaw" shortly before their first gig, a reference to David Bowie's song "Warszawa". Warsaw debuted on 29 May 1977 at the Electric Circus, supporting the Buzzcocks, Penetration and John Cooper Clarke. Tony Tabac played drums that night after joining the band two days earlier. Reviews in the NME by Paul Morley and in Sounds by Ian Wood brought them immediate national exposure. Mason became the band's manager and Tabac was replaced on drums in June 1977 by Steve Brotherdale, who also played in the punk band Panik. Brotherdale tried to get Curtis to leave the band and join Panik, and even had Curtis audition. In July 1977, Warsaw recorded five demo tracks at Pennine Sound Studios, Oldham. Uneasy with Brotherdale's aggressive personality, the band fired him soon after the sessions; driving home from the studio, they pulled over and asked Brotherdale to check on a flat tyre; when he got out of the car, they drove off.
In August 1977, Warsaw placed an advertisement in a music shop window seeking a replacement drummer. Stephen Morris, who had attended the same school as Curtis, was the sole respondent. Deborah Curtis, Ian's wife, stated that Morris "fitted perfectly" with the band, and that with his addition Warsaw became a "complete 'family'". To avoid confusion with the London punk band Warsaw Pakt, the band renamed themselves Joy Division in early 1978, borrowing the name from the sexual slavery wing of a Nazi concentration camp mentioned in the 1955 novel House of Dolls. In December, the group recorded their debut EP, An Ideal for Living, at Pennine Sound Studio and played their final gig as Warsaw on New Year's Eve at the Swinging Apple in Liverpool. Billed as Warsaw to ensure an audience, the band played their first gig as Joy Division on 25 January 1978 at Pip's Disco in Manchester.