Saturday, June 28, 1980

Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” Charts: June 28, 1980

Originally posted June 28, 2011.

Joy Division formed in 1976 in Manchester, England. The band consisted of Ian Curtis (vocals), Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Peter Hook (bass), and Stephen Morris (drums). They become one of the most important post-punk bands for creating the template for goth music.

Ian Curtis, however, had problems. Epilepsy, a failing marriage, and depression led him to commit suicide in May 1980, on the eve of the band’s first American tour. In the wake of Curtis’ death, Joy Division hit the UK charts for the first time on June 28, 1980, with “Love Will Tear Us Apart”.

It was “definitely a pop single, albeit a rather dark, forlorn” TB one which was “clearly the work of a troubled soul.” BBC In Telegraph, Neil McCormack described it as “romantic fear and self-loathing wrapped up in a post-punk torch song.” MC “The song’s already fragile and desperate tone took on even greater poignancy” AL in light of the circumstances under which it charted.

The song climbed to #13 in the UK charts. It recharted twice more – in 1983 and in 1995 – both times reaching #19. It has achieved classic status, making the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of the Top 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll. It is also featured in the book The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era, 1954-1999.

Meanwhile, the band continued forth without Curtis under the moniker New Order, becoming one of the most important bands in shaping the sound of college rock in the 1980s.

Click here for official video.

  • DMDB page for “Love Will Tear Us Apart”
  • Joy Division’s DMDB music maker encyclopedia entry
  • BBC BBC Music’s “Sold on Song” Top 100 (2005)
  • HL Michael Heatley and Spencer Leigh. (1998). Behind the Song: The Stories of 100 Great Pop & Rock Classics. London, England: Blandford Books. Page 33.
  • AL Alan Lewens (2001). Popular Song – Soundtrack of the Century. Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 150.
  • MC Neil McCormack (3/13/09). “100 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • RS500 Rolling Stone’s “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” (12/04).
  • TB Thunder Bay Press. (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 180.

  • Monday, June 23, 1980

    Pink Floyd released “Comfortably Numb”

    Updated 1/21/2019.

    image from

    Comfortably Numb

    Pink Floyd

    Writer(s): David Gilmour, Roger Waters (see lyrics here)

    Released: 6/23/1980

    First Charted: 12/3/1988

    Peak: 24 AR (Click for codes to singles charts.)

    Sales *: -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)

    Radio Airplay *: --

    Video Airplay *: 216.9

    Streaming *: --

    * in millions


    Pink Floyd bassist and songwriter Roger Waters was suffering from hepatitis before a 1977 show at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. SF A “sleazy Philadelphia doctor” RS500 gave him a sedative for the pain, thinking it was a stomach disorder. “That was the longest two hours of my life,” Waters said. “Trying to do a show when you can hardly lift your arm.” RS500 Even though he couldn’t focus, fans were so busy screaming that they didn’t care. Pink Floyd’s subsequent album, The Wall, (which featured “Comfortably Numb”) explored the theme of alienation between the band and its audience. SF

    The experience shaped the song “Comfortably Numb,” which also incorporated an experience he had as a child when he was sick with a fever. As an adult, Waters would get that feeling again on occasion and enter a state of delirium when he would feel detatched from reality. SF He said the lines, “When I was a child, I had a fever/ My hands felt just like two balloons,” were autobiographical.

    Guitarist David Gilmour crafted the music while he working on a solo album in 1978. Gilmour’s second guitar solo in the song has often appeared in polls of all-time best guitar solos, even topping the list of a 2006 list by TV music channel Planet Rock. SF He and Waters argued over two versions of the song, finally compromising by editing two takes together. SF Gilmour said the song was made up of the dark (represented by lines like “Hello, is there anybody in there” sung by Waters) and light (lines like “When I was a child…” sung by Gilmour). SF It was the last song the two wrote together SF and the last song ever performed by Waters, Gilmour, and bandmates Richard Wright (keyboardist) and Nick Mason (drummer). WK

    In the movie The Wall, “Comfortably Numb” accompanies a scene in which the rock star Pink goes into a catatonic state before a show and is drugged up to get through. It recalled the experience the band had when original member Syd Barrett was kicked out of the band in 1968 after becoming mentally ill. SF

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