Peter Hook

Peter Hook (born 13 February 1956) is an English singer, songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and record producer. He is best known as the bassist and co-founder of English rock bands Joy Division and New Order.

Hook formed the band which was to become Joy Division with Bernard Sumner in 1976. Following the death of lead singer Ian Curtis in 1980, the band reformed as New Order, and Hook played bass with them until 2007.

Hook has recorded one album with Revenge (One True Passion), two albums with Monaco (Music for Pleasure and Monaco) and one album with Freebass (It’s a Beautiful Life), serving as bassist, keyboardist and lead vocalist. He is currently the lead singer and bassist for Peter Hook and the Light.

Early life

He was born Peter Woodhead on 13 February 1956, in Broughton, Salford, England, to Irene Acton (1928–2000; since 1962 Irene Hook), and John Woodhead. When he was three years old, in 1959, his parents divorced. He and his brothers were brought up by his maternal grandmother Alicia Acton (born Chapman; 1896–1968) until 1962, when his mother remarried Ernest W. Hook. Like his band-mate Bernard Sumner, he took his stepfather’s surname, although in contrast to his friend he kept it, even creating his nickname, “Hooky,” from it. Because of his stepfather’s work, he spent part of his childhood in Jamaica before returning to Salford, where he attended Salford Grammar School.

Other work

In 1984, Hook recorded the single “Telstar” with the band Ad Infinitum, which was composed of him and members of the Stockholm Monsters. In the late 1980s, Hook also worked as a producer for bands such as Inspiral Carpets and the Stone Roses. In 2003 he contributed bass to a number of tracks on Hybrid’s album Morning Sci-Fi, including the single “True to Form”. Hook also co-owned the Suite Sixteen recording studio formerly Cargo Studios which Hook purchased with Chris Hewitt in 1984. Cargo and Suite Sixteen in Kenion Street, Rochdale were major studios in the history of punk and post punk music. A blue plaque was unveiled on the Kenion Street music building in Rochdale that used to house the studios in September 2009 and Peter Hook played a special concert in Rochdale on that day with Section 25 donating all proceeds to the Back Door Music Project, a Rochdale youth project for people interested in music.

New Order have broken up more than once, and Hook has been involved with other projects. In 1995 he toured with the Durutti Column. He has recorded one album with the band Revenge and two with Monaco (both as bassist, keyboardist and lead vocalist) with David Potts, the latter of which scored a club and alternative radio hit “What Do You Want From Me?” in 1997. Hook and Potts reformed Monaco on two occasions in 2007, with original drummer Paul Kehoe and Hook’s son Jack completing the line up for two gigs at Manchester’s Hard Rock Cafe in March and at the Ritz Theatre in October. On 4 May 2007, Hook announced on Xfm that he and New Order singer/guitarist Bernard Sumner were no longer working together, effectively spelling the end for the band; the band later denied disbanding.He then played and recorded a studio album, It’s a Beautiful Life, with a new band project called Freebass with bass players Mani (The Stone Roses) and Andy Rourke (ex-the Smiths).

He also contributed to Perry Farrell’s Satellite Party. His bass can be heard on “Wish Upon a Dogstar” and “Kinky”. Inspired by Clint Boon of Inspiral Carpets, he started with the Return to New York nights in London. He contributed a distinctive bassline to Hybrid’s 2003 single “True to Form”, as well as another track from their Morning Sci-Fi album, “Higher Than a Skyscraper”, playing on stage with them on a number of dates of their ensuing tour. In November 2008 Hook performed a selection of Joy Division and New Order songs in Paris, Brussels, Oss and Krefeld with Section 25. Hook is featured on “Dirty Thirty” and “Blunts & Robots”, two tracks off of the Crystal Method’s 2009 album Divided by Night. Hook recently compiled “The Hacienda Acid House Classics” following on from his original mix of “The Hacienda Classics” in 2006. In October 2009, Hook published his book on his time as co-owner of the Hacienda, How Not to Run a Club.[5]

Hook then opened a new club and live venue in Manchester, FAC 251 – The Factory, in February 2010 singing lead vocals with his band, the Light. The club is situated in the old head offices of Factory Records in Manchester city centre. On 18 May 2010, the 30th anniversary of Ian Curtis’ death, the Light performed a set of Joy Division songs including every track from Unknown Pleasures. In 2010, Hook also recorded and released two EPs on American indie record label 24 Hour Service Station as Man Ray[ with production partner and Freebass keyboardist Phil Murphy. The first, released in April and entitled “Summer ’88”,revisited the staple sounds of the Hacienda nightclub, with the duo using a mixture of classic Roland synths and drum machines to simulate early Acid House vibes. “Tokyo Joe”[8] followed in December, blending Hook’s trademark high range bass sound and old school punk inflected vocal chant with Murphy’s classic synths, guitars and drum machines to produce an indie dance track reminiscent of classic New Order. The song was also used as the theme to FAC 251 – The Factory.

In 2011, Peter Hook and the Light released “1102 2011 EP”, four versions of Joy Division songs, including the previously unrecorded “Pictures In My Mind.” The EP takes its name from the palindromic recording date of 11 February 2011 at Blueprint Studio, Salford. Featured Happy Mondays’ vocalist Rowetta sings versions of “Atmosphere”, “New Dawn Fades” and “Insight”. Hook sings “Pictures In My Mind”, an unfinished Joy Division track discovered on a demo recording unearthed by the band’s “bootleg society” from a rehearsal tape stolen in 1977, setting it between Warsaw and Unknown Pleasures. The effervescent and punk tinged tune was completed for this release, and was declared “a worthy addition to the Joy Division canon” by BBC 6Music DJ Mark Radcliffe.

In 2012, Hook launched a brand new master’s degree programme[ in Music Industry Management and Promotion] at the University of Central Lancashire, due to start in October 2012. It provides an opportunity to study the music business at postgraduate level and to get hands-on experience of working within the industry. Students will combine their academic studies with a placement in a commercial music industry institution working on real world projects. The course offers industrial experience which will involve working in the Factory 251 venue in Manchester, providing contact with significant industry figures connected with this culturally important company. Hook was awarded an honorary fellowship from the same institution on 11 July 2012.

On 29 January 2013, Hook published “Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division”; an autobiographical account of the brief existence of the ill-fated band On 6 October 2016, he released the book Substance: Inside New Order

Personal life

In 1979, Hook was questioned as a suspect in the Yorkshire Ripper case. Joy Division’s touring schedule coincided with Peter Sutcliffe’s movements which led to the police’s suspicion. Following gigs in Halifax, Huddersfield, Leeds and Manchester, Hook was questioned[ and drummer Stephen Morris was arrested. He has two children from his first relationship with Iris Bates, son Jack and daughter Heather.

In 1994, he married comedian Caroline Aherne but the marriage ended in 1997. He subsequently married Rebecca Jones. He has a daughter with her.

In July 2012, Hook was awarded a Honorary Fellowship from the University of Central Lancashire during the graduation of the university’s creative art students.

Playing style

Hook has said that he developed his high bass lines when he started playing with Joy Division because the speaker that he used initially (bought from his former art teacher for £10) was so poor he had to play that high to be able to hear what he was doing, as Bernard Sumner’s guitar was so loud.

With New Order’s ever increasing use of sequenced synthesized bass, especially throughout most of 1989’s Technique and 1993’s Republic, Hook’s bass playing became ever more melodic and rhythmic, often exploiting the higher notes on his basses.

Hook also contributed backing vocals on numerous Joy Division songs in concert and sang co-lead with Ian Curtis on Joy Division’s “Interzone.” He sings lead on two New Order songs (“Dreams Never End” and “Doubts Even Here” from the 1981 debut album Movement).

Film portrayals

In Michael Winterbottom’s 2002 film 24 Hour Party People, which focused on Factory Records, Hook was played by Ralf Little. In Anton Corbijn’s 2007 film Control, which focused on the life of Ian Curtis, he was played by Joe Anderson.

Books

  • Hook, Peter (2010). The Hacienda: How Not to Run a Club. UK: Simon & Schuster. 368pp. ISBN 978-1847391773.
  • Hook, Peter (2012). Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division. UK: Simon & Schuster. 336pp. ISBN 978-0857202154.
  • Hook, Peter (2016). Substance: Inside New Order. UK: Simon & Schuster. 768pp. ISBN 978-1471132407.
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