Martin Hannett

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Martin Hannett
Martin Hannett.jpg
Martin Hannett. Photo by Kevin Cummins
Background information
Also known as Zero, Martin "Zero" Hannett
Born 31 May 1948
Origin Miles Platting, Manchester, England
Died 18 April 1991 (aged 42)
Genres New wave, post-punk
Occupation(s) musician, record producer
Instruments Bass guitar, guitar, keyboards
Years active 1976–91
Labels Rabid, Factory, Virgin

James Martin Hannett[1] (31 May 1948[2][3] – 18 April 1991), initially credited as Martin Zero, was a record producer and an original partner/director at Factory Records with Tony Wilson. Hannett's trademark sound, most apparent on Joy Division's debut album Unknown Pleasures (1979) and its follow-up, Closer (1980), is sparse, eerie and cavernous.


Early years[edit]

Born in Manchester, Lancashire, England,[4] Hannett was raised in a working class, Catholic[5] family in Miles Platting, Manchester;[4] he attended Corpus Christi school[6] and Xaverian College in Rusholme. In 1967,[6] he began to attend UMIST (University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology), where he earned a degree in chemistry but chose not to pursue that profession.[5]


Martin's uncle was a bass player and he gave Martin a bass guitar when Martin was 14. Martin played bass with Spider Mike King[6] and as member in a band called Paradox, in 1973, alongside Paul Young, later of Sad Café and Mike + The Mechanics.[2]

His production work began with the animation film soundtrack All Kinds of Heroes, written by Steve Hopkins (with whom Martin later worked again). By this time, he also began to mix live sound at pub gigs. Other early production works included Greasy Bear material, Belt & Braces Road Show Band's eponymous album, in 1975, and five songs from Pete Farrow's repertoire recorded at Pennine Studios, Oldham, later included on that artist's compilation album Who Says There's No Beach in Stockport. He would first attract wider musical attention in 1977, when, as Martin Zero, he produced one of the first independent punk records, Buzzcocks' Spiral Scratch EP. Under the same moniker he produced early records by punk poet John Cooper Clarke, whose Salford monotone was complemented by drum machines, simple synthesiser motifs, and Hannett's own bass playing. Jilted John's first single (Jilted John) was Hannett's first hit single.[7]

Hannett became closely associated with Joy Division. Hannett's production incorporated looping technology to treat musical notes with an array of digital filters and both Melos analogue tape and Melos bucket brigade early digital echoes and AMS digital delay units of which Hannett owned several. The Melos tape and Melos quasi digital. BBD echo units were at the opposite end of the price spectrum to the AMS delays, but Hannett still loved using their crude echo effects. In his equipment cache Hannett had a massive collection of bbd echo devices which he had amassed and called his bluetop echo and delay boxes. The first synthesizers Hannett and Joy Division guitarist Bernard Sumner both used were Transcendent 2000s (which Hannett collected in large quanities in the late 70s) and then ARP Omnis. Hannett also owned and used several crude Jen SX1000s and an International 4600 synthesiser modular synth on many early recordings.Later in his career he owned a Mini Moog synth and several ARP 2600 synths.[citation needed]

After sessions in the recording studio in the late 70s Hannett would take a quarter-inch tape of his mixes home and play them on his home hi-fi and studio system in his music room which at various times contained a plethora of equipment including Revox A77 and B77 tape recorders, Ferrograph tape recorders, 2 pairs of Quad Electrostatic Loudspeakers stacked double height, two pairs of Tannoy Cheviot 12 monitors,several pairs of Tannoy Lancaster cabinets with HPD 12s and Monitor Gold 12s in, Tannoy Little Gold Monitors, Ferrograph S1 monitors and Auratone cube speakers. Power amps he had in his music room/ studio at home included Leak, Amcron DC300A's, Quad IIs and Quad 405s, and Phase Linear 700's. During the mid 1980s he had a Terac four track quarter inch reel to reel and Tascam half-inch eight track recording system at home with Tascam and Studiomaster mixers plus several custom built mixing desks of various sizes. He just lived to collect musical and hi fi equipment.. If he played vinyl at his home he had Garrard 301 and 401 turntables with SME arms and a Thorens turntable. His love of hi fi equipment and collecting vinyl from an early age was part of his career path to becoming a legendary producer.[citation needed]

As a producer, Hannett obsessed over drum sounds; he was never content until they completely coincided with the sounds in his head. Legend has it that he once forced Joy Division drummer Stephen Morris to take apart his drum kit during a recording session and reassemble it to include additional parts from a toilet. He also reputedly had Morris set up his kit on a first floor flat roof outside the fire escape at Cargo Recording Studios, Rochdale. The studio was used for the recording of "Digital", "Glass", "Atmosphere", "Dead Souls", and "Ice Age". Hannett's unorthodox production methods resulted in drum sounds mixed with synthesisers that were both complex and highly distinctive. According to Hannett: "There was a lot of space in [Joy Division's] sound. They were a gift to a producer, because they didn't have a clue. They didn't argue. A Factory Sample was the first thing I did with them. I think I'd had the new AMS delay line for about two weeks. It was called 'Digital'. It was heaven sent."[8]

A rift developed with Factory and he sued them in 1982 over various financial matters. The dispute was eventually settled out of court. The lawsuit is listed as part of the Factory Records catalog as FAC61.[1] When Hannett returned to produce the Happy Mondays he worked as a freelance producer, and was not reinstated as a Factory director.[citation needed]

Susanne O'Hara was his partner from 1972 until 1984. They lived together from 1975 in Chorlton and Didsbury, in Manchester. Susanne worked with Martin at Music Force, a musicians' cooperative in Manchester, until it closed, when Hannett's production career began to develop, around 1979.


Post Factory, Hannett's career spiralled into decline due to his heavy drinking and drug use, especially his use of heroin: his weight eventually reached 26 stone (165 kilogrammes).[citation needed]

Hannett died on 18 April 1991 at the age of 42 in Manchester, as a result of heart failure. Hannett is survived by a wife, son, and stepdaughter. His headstone at Manchester Southern Cemetery pays him tribute as the creator of The Manchester Sound. A film documentary – looking at Martin Hannett's whole life and featuring many of the people he was in bands with and engineered or produced – was released on DVD on the 23rd anniversary of his death on 10 April 2014. A book was released the same day, Martin Hannett – Pleasures of the Unknown by Chris Hewitt.[9]

Several weeks after his death, Factory Records released Martin: The Work of Martin Hannett (FACT325) as a tribute.[10]

Fictional portrayals[edit]

Hannett was portrayed by actor Andy Serkis in the 2002 film 24 Hour Party People, which was based on Tony Wilson's career as the co-founder of Factory Records and The Haçienda nightclub. In the DVD commentary, Wilson notes a review that described Hannett as Serkis' "strangest role", and points out that Serkis is best known for his portrayal of Gollum in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Wilson concludes that the reviewer's implication is correct, that indeed, Hannett was far stranger than the Lord of the Rings character.

Hannett was portrayed by Ben Naylor in Anton Corbijn's film Control (2007).

Selected discography[edit]

Albums produced[edit]

Singles and EPs produced[edit]


  • Martin: The Work of Martin Hannett (Factory Records, 1991)
  • And Here is the Young Man (Debutante, 1998)
  • Zero: A Martin Hannett Story 1977–1991' (Big Beat, 2006)
  • Martin Hannett- Maverick Producer, Genius and Musician 2-CD set ( Ozit Morpheus Records Sept 2011)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "FAC 61 Martin Hannett Lawsuit | Cerysmatic Factory". Retrieved 2014-07-13. 
  2. ^ a b Simmonds, Jeremy (2008). The Encyclopedia of Dead Rock Stars. Chicago Review Press. p. 272. ISBN 1-55652-754-3. 
  3. ^ "Manchester – Entertainment – In a lonely place". BBC. Retrieved 2014-07-13. 
  4. ^ a b "Martin Hannett / Biography by James Nice". Retrieved 2014-07-13. 
  5. ^ a b "martin hannett". martin hannett. Retrieved 2014-07-13. 
  6. ^ a b c "Martin Hannett / Interview with Jon Savage". Retrieved 2015-04-20. 
  7. ^ "Martin Hannett". Retrieved 2014-07-13. 
  8. ^ Savage, Jon (May 2006). "Faster, but slower". Mojo. 
  9. ^ "Martin Hannett – Pleasures of the Unknown: Chris Hewitt: Books". Retrieved 2014-07-13. 
  10. ^ "Factory Records: FACT 325 Martin, The Work of Martin Hannett". Retrieved 2015-04-20. 

External links[edit]