Salford icon Peter Hook, best known as a founding member and bassist of both Joy Division and New Order, celebrates his 68th birthday today.

A pioneer in the field, Hook’s iconic high-noted, yet gritty bass melodies echoed to the forefront of the post-punk movement in the late 1970s, prevalent throughout Joy Division’s emblematic album ‘Unknown Pleasures’.

With the formation of New Order, Hooky propelled his unique technique into the New Wave sound of the 80s, incorporating the emerging club vibrations with the band’s indie sound.

To celebrate the Salford lad’s contributions to music, we look at Hook’s five best basslines from his career with Joy Division and New Order.

5. Disorder (1979)

One of his heavier sounds, Hook drives a moody, melancholic atmosphere in ‘Disorder’. With the repetition of the bass riff pounding throughout the track, a dystopian yet dance-y groove urges the listener to dwell and mosh. Acting as the first track of Joy Division’s ‘Unknown Pleasures’, the bass flawlessly encapsulates the band’s identity.

4. Ceremony (1981)

New Order’s first single has distinct shades of Joy Division. Opening with his signature higher-pitched bassline, the Salford icon supplies a bright, somewhat joyous riff, juxtaposed by the brash guitar and gloomy vocals. The hopeful nature to Hook’s bass part marks a new era for the group after the death of Joy Division frontman, Ian Curtis.

‘Peter Hook and the Light’ performing at Beat-Herder Festival, 2023. Credit: Ed Chadwick

3. Transmission (1979)

Introducing the track, a deep, repetitive riff invites the listener to move. The simplicity of the riff offers a rhythmic sound which would flood any dancefloor. Hook himself noted that it was the bands first song that people actually listened to. Just as the lyrics command, the bass invites the listener to “dance, dance, dance”.

2. Love Will Tear Us Apart (1980)

An iconic riff for an iconic song. The tune’s bass plays along melodically with the tune of the eerie synth. The fragility of Curtis’ vocals display depression and acceptance, contrasting with Hooky’s buzzing bass, elegantly reverberating a bitter-sweet atmosphere.

1. Age of Consent (1983)

One of Hook’s most appreciated bass lines, ‘Age of Consent’ opens with a four-noted, lively riff, accompanied by Stephen Morris’ fast-paced drumbeat. Brash guitar strums and strained vocals are expertly grounded by Hook’s dominant bass, creating an instantly recognisable sound.

The Salford icon continues to tour with his band ‘Peter Hook and the Light’ with an upcoming gig at Manchester’s Star and Garter pub, playing through the original setlist of Joy Division’s debut gig at the Pips club in 1978.

Featured image credit: Jody Hartley

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