In the early-morning hours of May 18, 1980, Ian Curtis sat in the living room of his apartment in Macclesfield, U.K. He was watching "Stroszek," a film by Werner Herzog. Curtis also had Iggy Pop’s album "The Idiot" playing in the background. That morning he hanged himself, only to be discovered later that morning by his wife, Debbie. Curtis died at just 23 years old. The death of the Joy Division singer came on the eve of the band’s first U.S. tour. Thirty years later, Curtis and Joy Division continue to influence musicians.

In the early-morning hours of May 18, 1980, Ian Curtis sat in the living room of his apartment in Macclesfield, U.K. He was watching "Stroszek," a film by Werner Herzog. Curtis also had Iggy Pop’s album "The Idiot" playing in the background. That morning he hanged himself, only to be discovered later that morning by his wife, Debbie. Curtis died at just 23 years old. The death of the Joy Division singer came on the eve of the band’s first U.S. tour. Thirty years later, Curtis and Joy Division continue to influence musicians.


Allison Hagendorf, host of Fuse Top 20 Countdown on Fuse TV, has interviewed countless musicians, and nearly all of them still talk about Joy Division today and how a band that only put out only two albums, one that came out after Curtis’ death, could impact hundreds of bands.


“One question I always ask artists is, ‘Who inspires you,’” Hagendorf said via telephone from New York City. “So many artists say Joy Division. It’s the ultimate compliment. Joy Division inspired so many different bands and sounds.”


Curtis, guitarist Bernard Sumner, bassist Peter Hook, and drummer Stephen Morris met in 1976, forming the band Warsaw. They soon changed their name to Joy Division and created a post-punk sound, a sound that took punk rock in a different direction. Joy Division was one of the true breeders of the post-punk movement.


“I feel like timing is everything, and people needed something new and interesting,” Hagendorf said. “When I think Joy Division, I think mood. With punk bands, it’s all about angst and anger. (Joy Division) were really presenters of sound, style, mood and literally an entire genre.”


In 1979, the band released its first album, "Unknown Pleasures," on Factory Records. The album went no higher than 71 on the UK Album Chart. Today, it’s considered one of the top 10 albums of all times by fans and critics alike. The album features “She’s Lost Control,” one of the band’s most well-known songs next to “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” a track that was released after Curtis’ death.


“They weren’t punk, but definitely part of the punk energy, and it was that energy that created that mood,” Hagenforf said. “The name, the lyrics, everything about them is this big black cloud. I feel like their emphasis was this mood. Some people say Joy Division were projectors of goth music. All goth music is is this gloomy atmosphere. What they embody is the full persona.”


Joy Division has influenced countless bands, including U2, The Cure, and Nine Inch Nails, which covered Joy Division’s “Dead Souls” for "The Crow" soundtrack. Even some of today’s bands sound eerily similar to Joy Division, from Interpol to Editors.


“Listen to the band White Lies. The first thing you think of is Joy Division,” Hagendorf said. “It’s crazy.”


But what really made Curtis stand out was his voice and the way he projected it.


“Some of my favorite artists are ones who do it effortlessly,” Hagendorf said. “One of my favorites is Karen Carpenter. She would open her mouth and this sound would just come out. The same with him (Curtis). It’s so interesting how he was able to write powerful songs that weren’t angsty anthems but they evoked so much emotion.”