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Bernard Sumner

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With the legendary post-punk outfit Joy Division, guitarist Bernard Sumner stood behind the formidable shadow of singer/songwriter Ian Curtis. After Curtis hanged himself on May 18, 1980, the future of Joy Division seemed to have followed Curtis into the grave. However, it was actually another beginning for the band. Dumping the name Joy Division, the group reformed several months later as New Order with Sumner filling in the vacancy for vocalist. At first, Sumner sang with Curtis' brooding tone, but by the time New Order recorded 1983's Power, Corruption and Lies, Sumner formed his own icy, detached style of singing that was still mimicked by synth pop acts decades later. New Order, like Joy Division, became one of new wave's most influential bands. In 1991, Sumner and former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr collaborated as Electronic. Originally intended to be a Sumner solo effort, Electronic's self-titled debut unreeled four hits on alternative radio -- "Getting Away With It," "Get the Message," "Tighten Up," and "Feel Every Beat." On "Feel Every Beat," Sumner even rapped for the first time; it was an artistic risk, and fans either applauded it or condemned it. Sumner and Marr recorded two more albums as Electronic, but fickle music buyers largely ignored them. After a long hiatus in the '90s, New Order completed a new album in 2001. ~ Michael Sutton


04 January 1956 in Manchester, England

Years Active:

'70s, '80s, '90s, '00s