How We Met: Kevin Cummins & Peter Hook


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The Independent Online

Peter Hook, 55

A bass guitarist, Hook co-founded post-punk band Joy Division with Ian Curtis, Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris with whom he later formed New Order. He lives outside Manchester

There was a great camaraderie at the start of the [post-punk] Manchester scene in the late 1970s and Kevin stuck out because he had a camera, which would have been very expensive in those days. He was easy to get on with and became part of a small clique. He was also quite ambitious and saw the value of documenting us [Joy Division, and its precursor, Warsaw] before we did.

A good photographer needs to blend into the background and not join in with the revelry; Anton Corbijn joined us in the US for three concerts and he was blotto every time, and on the last day, waiting for a car to the airport, he said, "Shit, I've not taken any pictures!" Kevin didn't have that madness, but he still fit in and we allowed him to take candid shots.

One of the bad parts about having your whole life documented is all those shots of dodgy haircuts and jumpers taken over 34 years. There's a bloody awful one he keeps of me with a bad moustache and plastic cap. No matter how fast I destroy those photos, he's always printing more.

These days, when I see him doing all these Joy Division exhibitions, it's like he is becoming Mr Joy Division, and I have reacted against it, a little through jealousy or ego, and the fact that he asks lots of money from me if I want to use an image he's taken of us.

The thing I think we share most is geography. There's always been a lot of Northern banter between us, a love of Salford where we're both from, and Manchester, where our careers started. But while there's a lot of mutual respect, it has sometimes broken down.

In the 1990s, when he thought he was god's gift to photography I remember driving around north London doing a shoot with him and we passed by his house, and as we drove past it he said, "Isn't that funny, I've got a bigger house than you, and all I do is take photographs of you." And I went, "It's not funny at all mate." But, because we know each other's limitations, we're still friends; I might have been stuck up my own arse for a few years but he's made allowances for me and I for him.

Kevin Cummins, 58

An award-winning photographer, Cummins made his name with candid shots of musicians including Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Morrissey, as well as documenting the lives of Joy Division and New Order's members. He lives in south London with his wife.

I tell people that if it hadn't been for my band, the Negatives, Joy Division would never have existed – though Hooky considers that to be a myth. It was mid-1977, I'd just finished studying photography at university and I was interested in the whole Manchester scene, which Hooky was part of. I realised he was in a band when I saw them play on stage. They were still called Warsaw back then and I didn't like their music much, as they were still struggling to break out of that sixth-form stuff.

I shot them a few times at gigs and Hooky came up after one show and asked if he could come round to my house to look at the photos; you're not in a band unless you have an ego. I arranged to meet him at my mum's; he liked the shots, and it became a regular thing.

It was around then that I'd formed a fake band, the Negatives, as a joke, and we entered a local talent competition for a laugh. [The Factory Records boss] Tony Wilson was there and [future Joy Division and New Order manager] Rob Gretton, too. Hooky took it really seriously, so when his group was shunted to the final slot, at 3am, he got really angry with me, saying my band was a pisstake and that I should give our spot to them. By the time they came on stage Peter and Ian [Curtis] were so wound up that they took all that pent-up energy and performed a blistering set – their best yet.

Hooky was the party animal in the band, often disappearing for days at a time on tour. But over the years he's changed a lot. He started out being quite idealistic, then the adulation went to his head a bit, then came the money and a lot of inappropriate spending and then the years recovering from all that excess.

There have been periods over the years when we've fallen out, which tends to happen when Hooky doesn't agree with something I've said or done. One thing he can't understand is why I earn money from the Joy Division archive and I have to explain the laws of copyright to him, and the fact that if he'd helped with some of the film costs at the time, he may have had a stake in it all, which winds him up. But I have photographed Peter for 34 years now, meaning I've known him longer than anyone else in my life, so we must be doing something right.

Cummins's exhibition on Joy Division, Exemplar, is at Proud Gallery, London NW1 (, until 11 December