Peter Hook was questioned about the Yorkshire Ripper murders

13 November 2020, 17:18 | Updated: 13 November 2020, 20:33

Peter Hook on stage with Joy Division and a file photo of Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper
Peter Hook on stage with Joy Division and a file photo of Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper. Picture: AP/Press Association Images/Chris Mills/Redferns/Getty Images

The bassist was caught up in the investigation into Peter Sutcliffe back when he was in Joy Division...

Joy Division were a legendary band, but there's one particularly bizarre story that's come to light in recent years.

During their time with the band, both bassist Peter Hook and drummer Stephen Morris were picked up by the police... who were searching for the Yorkshire Ripper.

The musicians were questioned over their movements around the North West in 1979. That year, Peter Sutcliffe's reign of terror was at its height and, horribly, Joy Division's tour itinerary took in some of the same haunts the serial killer frequented.

Joy Division performing live onstage at Bowdon Vale Youth Club, March 1979
Joy Division performing live onstage at Bowdon Vale Youth Club, March 1979. Picture: Martin O'Neill/Redferns/Getty Images

Sutcliffe, whose death aged 74 was announced on 13 November 2020, was found guilty of murdering 13 women between 1975 and 1980: Wilma McCann, Emily Jackson, Irene Richardson, Patricia Atkinson, Jayne MacDonald, Jean Jordan, Yvonne Pearson, Helen Rytka, Vera Millward, Josephine Whitaker, Barbara Leach, Marguerite Walls and Jacqueline Hill. Seven more women were attacked by Sutcliffe, but survived.

At the time, police were mistakenly under the impression that the "Ripper" was only targeting sex workers - which meant the investigation oncentrated on vehicles travelling through particular areas of Northern cities.

"What happened was that every club we played in was run by a dodgy promoter in some dodgy part of town," Hook told Radio X in 2012, after the story was revealed in his book Unknown Pleasures - Inside Joy Division.

"We managed to play in the red light districts of Halifax, Huddersfield, Leeds, Manchester and probably London as well.

"The police had asked the public to note down the license plate numbers of any strange cars in the area, so they could investigate them later. Somehow mine and Steve's cars had gone in the system a couple of times and basically we got picked out."

Peter Sutcliffe sitting in the cab of his lorry at the Bradford engineering firm TW Clark, where he was a driver
Peter Sutcliffe sitting in the cab of his lorry at the Bradford engineering firm TW Clark, where he was a driver. Picture: Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images

The hapless musicians were taken in for questioning by police, who in the pre-DNA, pre-computer days were having to grill thousands of men about their movements in the area. Sutcliffe was a lorry driver and would frequently travel between towns and cities across Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.

Hook said: "Steve was very very nervous in those days and when the police questioned him, he lost it. He got taken to the police station and his mum had to come and rescue him.

"It was very intimidating - they basically asked you straight out if you were the Ripper."

Peter Sutcliffe the Yorkshire ripper handcuffed leaving court on 5 January 1981
Peter Sutcliffe the Yorkshire ripper handcuffed leaving court on 5 January 1981. Picture: Stone Peter/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

The investigation into Sutcliffe's horrific murders was also hampered by the appearance of the "Wearside Jack" tape - a hoax recording that claimed to be from the man who was carrying out the attacks.

Eventually Sutcliffe was arrested on 2January 1981 and later given 20 concurrent sentences of life imprisonment.

By that time, Joy Division singer Ian Curtis had died and the band had reinvented themselves as New Order. When Sutcliffe was arrested, the group were in the middle of recording their debut album Movement.

TRENDING ON RADIO X

Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2021:  Anthony Kiedis, John Frusciante, Flea and Chad Smith

Red Hot Chili Peppers' 2022 UK tour dates: How to buy tickets

Sam Fender

Sam Fender adds new dates to 2022 UK Seventeen Going Under tour

2007 artists: Kaiser Chiefs, Arctic Monkeys, M.I.A. and Calvin Harris

Only a mastermind can score 100% in this 2007 lyric quiz