Bernard Sumner

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Bernard Sumner
Sumner playing a guitar and singing into a microphone onstage
Sumner performing with New Order in September 2012
Background information
Also known as
  • Bernard Albrecht
  • Bernard Dicken
  • Barney
Born (1956-01-04) 4 January 1956 (age 68)
Broughton, Salford, Lancashire, England
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • musician
  • record producer
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • keyboards
  • synthesiser
  • melodica
Years active1973–present
Member ofNew Order
Formerly of

Bernard Sumner (born 4 January 1956) is an English musician. He is a founding member of the bands Joy Division, New Order, Electronic, and Bad Lieutenant. Sumner was an early force in several areas, including the post-punk, synth-pop, and techno music scenes, as well as their various related genres, and was an early influence on the Manchester music scene that presaged the Madchester movement of the late 1980s centred on Factory Records and The Haçienda club in Manchester.

He began his career playing guitar and keyboards for Joy Division. Following lead singer Ian Curtis's death, the remaining members of Joy Division formed New Order with Sumner taking on lead vocal duties. His complex electronic compositions became less guitar-driven and more focused on electronic keyboards, synthesizers, and programming throughout the 1980s and 1990s. He formed Electronic with Johnny Marr in the late 1980s as a creative outlet outside of New Order, which continued after New Order went on hiatus in 1993. New Order became active again from 1998 through 2006, after which he returned to a more traditional rock context with the band Bad Lieutenant. He continues to record and perform with the latest iteration of New Order, which reformed in 2011.

Early life[edit]

Sumner was born on 4 January 1956 in Broughton, Salford, Lancashire, England.[4][5]

Sumner was educated at Salford Grammar School, before joining the Manchester-based animation studio Stop Frame (later called Cosgrove Hall Films) as an animator, where he was credited as Bernard Dickin. He worked on Jamie and the Magic Torch.[6]


Sumner with New Order in NYC, 2005

Joy Division[edit]

Sumner was a founding member of Joy Division, formed at Salford in 1976. He and childhood friend Peter Hook both attended the fabled Sex Pistols concert at Manchester's Free Trade Hall on 4 June 1976 and whose music inspired them to perform together.[7] Widely considered one of the most influential bands of the era, Sumner was lead guitarist (his main guitars were a Gibson SG and a custom Shergold Masquerader),[8][9] as well as playing electronic keyboards[10] and made his first vocal appearance on record singing the chorus of "Walked in Line" on the Warsaw album.[11] In May 1980, after the suicide of its lead singer, Ian Curtis, Joy Division disbanded.[12]

New Order[edit]

Sumner and remaining band members Peter Hook and Stephen Morris started a new band named New Order, joined by keyboardist Gillian Gilbert in October 1980.[13] Though Hook, Morris and Gilbert also contributed vocals on some early tracks, Sumner emerged as the band's permanent singer and lyricist, alongside playing guitar and keyboards. Through a series of splits and reformations, the band has released ten studio albums. Sumner and Morris are the only members to be part of every lineup.


In 1989, Sumner joined up with former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr to form Electronic. The Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant collaborated on two tracks on their debut eponymous album, providing vocals. Sumner was their singer, guitarist, keyboardist and lyricist. Electronic released two other albums until a quiet disband in 2001 for Sumner to focus his efforts on New Order. Sumner occasionally appears to sing Electronic songs at Marr's concerts.

Bad Lieutenant[edit]

Bad Lieutenant included fellow New Order member Phil Cunningham and Jake Evans of Rambo & Leroy. Stephen Morris of New Order and Blur bassist Alex James also performed on the band's debut album. Sumner provided vocals, guitar and lyrics. Bad Lieutenant disbanded after New Order reformed in 2011.

Other projects[edit]

In 1981, Pauline Murray and The Invisible Girls released their last single "Searching for Heaven", which included a guitar solo by Sumner, although he was not credited in the sleeves of its 7" and 10" edition at the time.[14][15] In 1983, Sumner co-produced, with Donald Johnson, the single "The Great Divide"/"Love in a Strange Place" by the band Foreign Press. Foreign Press (aka Emergency) had had a long history with Sumner through both Joy Division and New Order.

In 1990, he worked with former Factory Records label mates A Certain Ratio, remixing their song "Won't Stop Loving You". He has also recorded tracks with fellow Mancunians 808 State and Sub Sub.[citation needed] Sumner appeared as guest singer and guitarist (alongside Primal Scream's Bobby Gillespie) on The Chemical Brothers' 1999 album Surrender, on the track "Out of Control"; and in a 2005 Chemical Brothers show at the Brixton Academy, Sumner appeared live onstage as a special guest on this track. He has also lent vocals and guitar to a track ("Miracle Cure") on German trance outfit Blank & Jones 2008 release, "The Logic of Pleasure". Sumner also appeared on the Primal Scream track "Shoot Speed Kill Light" from their 2000 album XTRMNTR.

He has produced several remixes for tracks such as Technotronic's "Rockin' Over the Beat" (which was featured in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III soundtrack) and served as a record producer and/or songwriter for other Factory Records acts including Happy Mondays (whose second single, "Freaky Dancin'," he produced in 1986), Shark Vegas, Abecedarians, 52nd Street and Section 25.

Personal life[edit]

Sumner married Sue Barlow on 28 October 1978; they had a son, James (born 1983), before divorcing in 1989. Sumner currently lives with his second wife, Sarah Dalton, and their three children, Dylan (born 1992), Tess (born 1994) and Finley (born 2003).[6]

Sumner was portrayed by John Simm in the 2002 film 24 Hour Party People and James Anthony Pearson in the 2007 film Control.


Joy Division[edit]

New Order[edit]


Bad Lieutenant[edit]



  • Curtis, Deborah (1995). Touching from a Distance: Ian Curtis and Joy Division. London: Faber. ISBN 0-5711-7445-0.
  • Bernard Sumner: Confusion – Joy Division, Electronic and New Order Versus the World, David Nolan, 2007
  • Chapter and Verse – New Order, Joy Division and Me, Bernard Sumner, 2014


  1. ^ Composer on the tracks "The Process" and "Inspiration".


  1. ^ Coplan, Chris (10 July 2014). "Joy Division/New Order's Bernard Sumner to release autobiography". Consequence of Sound. Archived from the original on 19 September 2015. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  2. ^ Sutton, Michael. "Bernard Sumner". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 18 October 2015. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  3. ^ James, Martin (23 October 2011). "Music: Live: Electronica veterans move with the times". The Independent. ESL Media. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  4. ^ "How we met: Johnny Marr & Bernard Sumner". 18 July 1999. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  5. ^ "Bernard Sumner Biography – the early years". Archived from the original on 20 February 2016. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Short bio at". Archived from the original on 6 November 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  7. ^ Savage, Jon (July 1994). "Joy Division: Someone Take These Dreams Away". Mojo.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Reynolds, Simon (2005). Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984. Penguin. ISBN 0-14-303672-6, p. 115
  11. ^
  12. ^ Curtis 1995, p. 132.
  13. ^ Savage, Jon. "Joy Division: Someone Take These Dreams Away." Mojo. July 1994.
  14. ^ "Pauline Murray And Invisible Girls, The – Pauline Murray And The Invisible Girls". August 1993. Archived from the original on 23 April 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  15. ^ Nice, James (September 2014). "Pauline Murray \ Biography". Les Disques du Crépuscule. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2014.


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