Ian Curtis Upper Fifth Divinity Prize, 1972

A sad anniversary passed this week; even sadder to reflect that, just 8 years before the end, about to turn 16, Ian Curtis was preparing to leave the King’s School, Macclesfield, armed with 7 “O” Levels and a religious education award. I know this because he was in Upper 5 Modern and I was in Lower 5 Modern, and I happened to find this rather historically interesting 1972 school report in a box of old stuff.

I didn’t know Ian well, although we were both in the Dramatic Society and I think we were both in a play called The Thwarting of Baron Bolligrew. The last time I saw him was in 1976. He handed me a dole cheque through a pane of glass and we exchanged nods.

Meanwhile here I am later in the same report, chalking up a rather indifferent trombone grade as compared to my obviously more gifted brass playing peers. It was at about this time, at the age of 14, accompanied by some of these fellow brass players, that I had my first recording studio experience. The town of Macclesfield was putting on a grand Town Faire, and to enhance the grandeur it was decided to pipe brass ensemble music from large Tannoys. For some incredible reason which I have never divined, this incidental music was recorded in Studio 1 at Abbey Road, London.

Thus it transpired that every reasonably competent brass player in Macclesfield was bussed down to Saint John’s Wood. Being in Studio 1 was mind-boggling enough; down the corridor in Studio 2 The Hollies were recording, and during a tea break they allowed some of us schoolboys to stick our heads briefly into that hallowed space. And so my life’s course was set.