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Hooky says goodbye to Joy Division to raise money for us

Created:

4 March 2019

On Saturday afternoon, bassist Peter Hook auctioned off his historic collection of guitars, clothing and memorabilia from the archives of Joy Division, the post punk band he co-founded in the ‘70s. Part of the proceeds will go to Epilepsy Society in memory of lead singer, Ian Curtis. Nicola Swanborough, our Communications Manager, was at the auction.

The auction rooms on the Sankey Valley Industrial Estate, mid-way between Liverpool and Manchester are unassuming, unremarkable even.

Omega Auctions are a top auction house for music memorabilia and vinyl. Auction highlights have included the record that launched the Beatles and the Elvis Presley Bible complete with handwritten notes.

But today, in spite of a rare and incredible collection capturing a memorable era in rock music, the room belongs to epilepsy. Stark, uncomfortable, powerful, emotional.

To  the auctioneer’s left, a series of larger-than-life black and white photographs dominate. The youthful intense face of Joy Division’s lead singer Ian Curtis stares out, almost 40 years after one of the most iconic musicians of his time cut short his own life.

Curtis was found hanged in his kitchen, the night before the band were about to embark on their first US tour. The tragedy is still raw. The 23-year old had lived with epilepsy and struggled with depression. Ironically in a room where the highest bidder gets the prize, Curtis got the lot no-one would wish for. 

On the other side of the auction room, high up on the balcony and barely visible to his ardent fans below, Peter Hook, co-founder and lead bassist of Joy Division, watches quietly as every resounding bang of the auctioneer’s gavel marks another goodbye to the treasured items that have both fuelled and soothed the grief of losing his friend.

Sitting in a red checked shirt, watching as his 1977 leather jacket sells for £7,000, his first guitar – bought with a £35 loan from his mum – for £11,000, and Joy Division’s flight deck for £21,000, Hooky’s face gives away everything and nothing at once.

For his fans – rows of balding, leather jacketed gentlemen who came of age in a post punk era, many of them now sporting Hooky tour date t-shirts - it’s their chance  to get a piece of the band that shaped them.

For Hooky it’s a chance to get some peace of mind, to deal with the shock that has been an open wound for almost four decades. To recognise that the cruel ending that truncated the ‘wonderful’ Curtis’s life, was indeed the end. He is not coming back.

Hooky is resilient. He is all about reincarnation. After the tragedy of Joy Division he founded New Order and today fronts his band, The Light. His decision to find new homes for the timepieces from his early days is yet another example of reincarnation.

Part of the proceeds of the auction will go to three charities, Epilepsy Society, CALM – the Campaign Against Living Miserably – and the NHS Christie Foundation Trust, one of the largest cancer treatment centres in Europe. It is Hooky’s way of giving something back, of supporting other young people who, like Curtis, may be struggling.

Proceeds from the auction will help to ensure that our helpline is open with someone on the end of the phone ready to listen at a time of crisis.

They will help to fund vital research to understand better the causes of epilepsy and its association with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. They will help to ensure that a young Curtis today need not feel alone or unsupported.

At Epilepsy Society we witness many amazing fundraising events – marathons, cake sales, sponsored walks, non-uniform days, to name but a few. And almost without exception, like Saturday’s auction, they are fuelled by a need to make sense of a loved one’s epilepsy.

The bereaved father who has spent 30 years throwing himself at marathons in order to deal with his grief at losing a child; the young woman who is walking the Thames Path because her mum struggles with uncontrolled seizures.

After the auction, Hooky tweeted: "A really strange day! Time to say goodbye…" But a milestone day with an incredible legacy that is a testimony to two men – the legendary Ian Curtis, still taking centre stage, and the equally legendary Peter Hook. Thank you. Today’s auction will make a difference.