Joy Division – Ultra Rare 1978 Handbill for 1st Ever Factory Show / From Tony Wilson Collection

An extremely rare handbill advertising Joy Division’s first performance at Manchester’s Factory Club, on June 9, 1978; from the archive of Factory Records co-founder Tony Wilson.

This show, Joy Division’s fifth after changing their name from Warsaw, was critically important for the group.  It marked their earliest association with The Factory’s promoters, Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus, soon to found Factory Records and sign Joy Division.  Just six days earlier the group had self-released their debut record, the An Ideal for Living EP (their debut album, Unknown Pleasures, was still more than a year off.)

Tony Wilson, then a TV presenter on Granada TV, had joined friend Alan Erasmus in managing the Durutti Column, and the two convinced the owner of the Russell Club in Hulme to allow them to book bands on a few Friday nights.  While walking around Manchester, Erasmus saw a sign reading “Factory closing” and said, “Let’s call the club The Factory, because we can have a factory opening instead of a factory closing.”  This show was the fourth Factory Night at the Russell Club, and the first of 11 shows Joy Division played at The Factory.

The handbill is reproduced on a full page in Jon Savage’s definitive Joy Division history This Searing Light, The Sun and Everything Else (the only handbill reproduced in the book.) Savage quotes a number of the show’s attendees describing the gig:

Film maker Malcolm Whitehead remembered They came on—there was nobody there because they were on very early—and they were absolutely stunning.  I can remember it, but not in my head, in my stomach, and it was that power, it was like “This is what I’ve always wanted from a band.  I was drained after seeing them.”

Joy Division drummer Stephen Morris recalled When Tony started doing the Factory nights, there was this kind of void: there was the band, then there was nothing, and then there were some people lurking there.  It didn’t bother Ian that there was nobody there, that was just what happened, he’d go for it, and he’d go for it in an empty room.  And by the second time this void was getting narrower and narrower, so that eventually there was even the odd person dancing.  Yeah, they’d sort of come to the front and, ahhey, we’ve got an audience now.

Ian Curtis’ friend Iain Grey recalled It was beyond what the Sex Pistols did…it was just unbelievable…It was otherworldly…totally inspired and hypnotic.

Also on the bill were The Tiller Boys, an experimental trio featuring Pete Shelley, later to find fame leading the Buzzcocks, and an unbilled Durutti Column.

This show is one of four Factory shows advertised on Peter Saville’s celebrated “Use Hearing Protection” poster (FAC 1.)

The handbill, a collage depicting a surrealist cabbage with eyes and a mouth, was designed by noted artist and musician Linder (Sterling,) best known for her iconic cover for the Buzzcocks’ single Orgasm Addict (a photomontage of a female nude with a hand-held iron replacing her head.) Linder’s work has been exhibited at many galleries and museums including the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and MoMA PS1 in New York.

We acquired this handbill directly from Tony Wilson’s family.  It has been stored at Manchester’s Museum of Science + Industry since Wilson’s 2007 death, and is in mint condition.  8 ¼” x 11 ¾” (A4), printed on lightly coated thin stock.1

Included is a letter of authenticity from the archivist of The Tony Wilson Archive reflecting its extraordinary provenance, and Recordmecca’s written lifetime guarantee of authenticity.


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