A young Bono from U2 unwittingly changed the sound to the iconic song Love Will Tear Us Apart.
The Joy Division anthem, regularly voted one of the greatest songs of all time, was being made in a London studio with producer Martin Hannett in March 1980, and Bono and the rest of Irish band U2 went to meet him with the prospect of making an album together.
The recording sessions were dogged by problems as Hannett struggled to capture the essence of the song’s popularity with fans when played live.
Joy Division drummer Stephen Morris said: “I remember during torturous ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ drummerthon, mark three, that the doorbell went at Britannia Row.
“A bunch of very young Irish boys turned up, who announced themselves at the band U2.
“Martin was being touted as the producer for their album. I remember them filing into the studio whilst I was doing the tom break on Love Will Tear Us Apart for the gazillionth time.
“The young lad with the strange name ‘Bono’ listened to what I was doing and he seemed rather taken with it. He said ‘I don’t know what it is that you’re doing but it adds a lot to the track’ which I thought was very nice of him, and Martin took it as an indication that what I was doing was actually s*** and binned it.”
Bono, known now for being ultra confident, also spoke at his nerves of meeting one of his idols, Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis.
Speaking on Transmissions: The Definitive Story podcast, Bono said of the band: “They were very kind, they came out to say hello to the band. We shook their hand. Then this man with the weight of the whole universe in his voice, this crooner from some black hole, the dark lord stepped forward and I was like ‘Oh my god I am going to meet Ian Curtis’.
“I put my hand out and he went ‘Alright?’ And I couldn’t believe the sound he made.
“He was just this sweet, sweet sound. He was beautiful soul but he sang from this other place. Just the most gentle conversation and it was a very special moment”
Love Will Tear Us Apart” was named NME Single of the Year in 1980, and was listed as the best single of all time by NME in 2002.
In 2004, the song was listed by Rolling Stone magazine at number 179 in its list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.
The lyrics were inspired by lead singer Ian Curtis’ marital problems and struggles with mental illness.
Following Curtis’s suicide in May 1980, his wife Deborah had the phrase ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ inscribed on his memorial stone.
*You can hear more about how the song was made on the latest episode of the official Joy Division and New Order podcast called Transmissions: The Definitive Story.
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