Peter Hook Is 61: Here Are His Greatest BASS Moments

13 February 2017, 11:07 | Updated: 23 February 2017, 19:01

Peter Hook 2015

The Joy Division and New Order four-string legend celebrates his birthday on 13 February. Radio X pays tribute with a look at some of his best performances on the old bass.

Peter Hook: the man who turned playing the bass into an art form... or at least a full contact sport. If you've ever seen the man wrestle with his instrument (excuse the expression), you'll never forget it. 

In the days of Joy Division, he redefined the sound of punk by making the bass more melodic and important. In the New Order days, he became indie's very own ROCK GOD, living the hedonistic lifestyle as only he could.

He may be estranged from his former bandmates these days, book Hooky's still on the road with his own band The Light, performing classic Joy Div and New Order material. And he's now 60! So let's raise a glass to the man who inspired bassists everywhere to give themselves bad backs. 


1. Joy Division - Transmission

JD's all time classic and, according to Hook himself, the first song the band played where they saw an audience stop and start listening, rather than continue to chat or sup their pints. Hooky's bass kicks off this ode to the power of radio (cheers), it was originally recorded for an unreleased 1978 album... but when remade with producer Martin Hannett, it lifted off into the stratosphere. 

2. Joy Division - Colony

By the time Joy Div convened to record their second album Closer in the Spring of 1980, they had left their punk roots behind and the music was getting more complex. This compelling song was written the previous autumn, but the album version pushes Hooky's bass to the fore and it propels the bleak song to its conclusion. The bass interplays with Steve Morris's strident drums and the result is one of the band's strongest, rockiest tunes.


3. New Order - Ceremony

One of Joy Division's innovations came from necessity: Peter Hook's high basslines came about simply because his amp was so cheap and crappy, meaning playing high up the fretboard was the only way he could hear himself. Soon the bass carried much of the melody, while the guitar was more for texture than lead. One of the final Joy Division songs, Ceremony was the first single to be recorded as New Order, following the death of Ian Curtis in May 1980. The mournful-yet-hopeful bass intro signals a new dawn for the band. 


4. New Order - True Faith

By the mid 1980s, Hook's bass guitar had become one of the key elements in the New Order sound... but with electronics taking over, he wasn't required to provide the bottom end throughout the songs, rather he would appear to add some distinctive colour to the songs. A case in point is this classic single from 1987: the bass is sequenced, but Hooky's memorable, eloquent line gives the track an extra dimension that no other band had (and quite a few bands would try and nick).


5. Monaco - What Do You Want From Me?

Hooky had tried going solo from New Order back in 1989 with the short-lived Revenge, but he had another crack at it in the mid-90s with Monaco, best known for 1997's What Do You Want From Me? He may not be the best singer in the world, but that classic bass sound is there, of course. Have a look at the video to see some choice Hooky moves. Mind yer back!


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