Whether you’ve heard it in films, TV adverts, or on the radio, the chances are you will know the track ‘Blue Monday’ by New Order.
But what you might not realise is that the hit is celebrating a big birthday today (7 March). It has now been 40 years since the successor band to Joy Division released their era defining nine-minute-long musical masterpiece.
Despite coming out in the early 1980s, Blue Monday has never truly sounded out of date, with the zingy interplay between Peter Hook’s bass guitar and Gillian Gilbert’s synthesiser creating a crisp, dancey sound that you cannot help but move to.
It went on to sell more than one million copies, although the track reportedly lost the band money to begin with because the production of the artwork on its cover proved so expensive. But Peter Saville’s sleeve remains one of the most iconic ever produced.
So, when was Blue Monday released - and how has New Order marked its big birthday?
Who is in New Order?
New Order was founded by the three surviving members of post-punk band Joy Division following lead singer Ian Curtis’s death in 1980.
Lead guitarist Bernard Sumner took on vocals, with Peter Hook - considered to be one of the best bass guitar players of all time - playing bass, Stephen Morris continuing on the drums and Joy Division collaborator Gillian Gilbert providing other guitars and keyboards.
The line-up remained in place until the band’s first split in 1993. It came soon after the collapse of Factory Records - the label it had been with since the band was known as Joy Division.
They reformed in 1998 and performed for another nine years before splitting again in 2007. When they came back in 2011, Peter Hook did not rejoin the band and now tours with his own group, Peter Hook and the Light.
While it is unclear what led to the break-up of the band, New Order and Hook were involved in a bitter legal dispute for several years over the use of the New Order name, as well as the playing of Joy Division tracks and the use of the old band’s motifs on merchandise. They settled the case in 2015.
New Order continues to tour, although it does so without Hook. The fourth band member is now Philip Cunningham.
When was the release date of Blue Monday?
Blue Monday was released on 7 March 1983 as the first single from New Order’s second album ‘Power, Corruption & Lies’.
It came out on Factory Records, the legendary Manchester-based music label that co-owned the famous Hacienda nightclub with New Order, and launched the careers of acts including the Happy Mondays and James.
Although it is considered to be one of the great tracks of all time, the song has never made it to number one in the Official UK Charts. Its 1983 version peaked at number nine, but stayed in the charts for 74 weeks.
Its re-release in 1988 reached number three, while another version put out in 1995 got to 17 in the charts. But even though it did not achieve outright chart success, the track has influenced everyone from the Pet Shop Boys to Rihanna.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Blue Monday’s release, Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert have appeared on a special edition of Chris Hawkins’ afternoon radio programme on BBC 6 Music. The band is also embarking on a North American tour this month.