Ian Curtis mural: what has rapper Aitch said after advert replaced image of Joy Division singer in Manchester?

Rapper Aitch has apologised after an advertisement promoting his new album Close to Home was painted overtop a beloved mural of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis.

What happened to Joy Division Ian Curtis mural in Manchester - why fans are angry at Aitch (PA Wire/PA Images)What happened to Joy Division Ian Curtis mural in Manchester - why fans are angry at Aitch (PA Wire/PA Images)
What happened to Joy Division Ian Curtis mural in Manchester - why fans are angry at Aitch (PA Wire/PA Images)

The wall painting on Port Street in his home city of Manchester’s Northern Quarter was unveiled in 2020 by street artist Akse P19.

Ahead of the 22-year-old’s album release this Friday (19 August), Aitch posted a Tweet following a social media uproar, promising to get this “fixed pronto”.

The rapper wrote: “It’s come to light that the iconic Ian Curtis mural on Port Street has been painted over with my album artwork. This is the first time I’ve heard of this, me and my team are getting this fixed pronto. No way on earth would I want to disrespect a local hero like Ian.”

Curtis fans were livid to see the mural painted over with the advert, calling the act “criminal”.

Salford post-punk band Joy Division was fronted by Curtis for four years until 1980 when he took his own life, aged 23, on the eve of their first North American tour.

The quick response from the rapper, whose real name is Harrison Armstrong, prompted a positive reaction from a number of famous Manchester artists.

Bassist and co-founder of Joy Division and New Order Peter Hook thanked Aitch, calling it a “great gesture”.

The mural was painted as a mental health awareness initiative with support from Manchester City Council. “[The mural] had become a cultural landmark and meant so much to people from Manchester and beyond,” Akse shared on his official social channels.

In May, former members of Joy Division gathered for a mental health panel in the Houses of Parliament to mark 42 years to the day since Curtis’s death.

Who was Ian Curtis?

Curtis was born in Old Trafford, Manchester in 1956. He met his future wife Deborah in 1972. After he quit school his family moved to New Moston, Manchester. He and Deborah were married on 23 August 1975.

After moving back to Macclesfield, Curtis found his place in the band Joy Division, then called Warsaw. The band consisted of Bernard Sumner on guitar, Peter Hook on bass, and Stephen Morris on drums. From 1977 to 1980, the band took off and became a part of Tony Wilson's label, Factory Records.

They released one EP, An Ideal for Living, in January 1977, and two official albums: Unknown Pleasures in June 1979, and Closer, released posthumously in July 1980.

Curtis first discovered that he suffered from epilepsy in December 1978, while his wife was pregnant with their daughter Natalie.

The last Joy Division performance was on 2 May 1980 at Birmingham University.

Curtis was found dead by Deborah on 18 May 1980. He was just 23 years old, but he left a huge musical legacy, with Joy Division going on to influence countless bands over the decades that followed.

The other members of Joy Division went on to further success with New Order.

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