Bernard Sumner

Bernard Sumner (born 4 January 1956) is an English singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer. He is best known as a founding member of both Joy Division, for whom he was the lead guitarist and keyboardist, and New Order, for whom he is the lead vocalist and guitarist. He has also been credited with advancing UK dance music and popularising the use of sequencers. In the early 1990s, he formed the duo Electronic alongside The Smiths' guitarist Johnny Marr.

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 64)
Broughton, Lancashire, England
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • musician
  • record producer
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • keyboards
  • synthesiser
  • melodica
Years active1973–present
Associated acts

Early lifeEdit

Sumner was born on 4 January 1956 in Broughton, Lancashire.[4][5][6] He attended Salford Grammar School and later worked for a company that created animations for television cartoons.[7]


Sumner performing with New Order in 2005

Joy DivisionEdit

Sumner was a founding member of Joy Division, a Salford band formed 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 were inspired to form a band.[8] The band is widely considered one of the most influential of the era. Primarily known as the band's lead guitarist (his main guitars were a Gibson SG and a custom Shergold Masquerader),[citation needed] Sumner also played keyboards for synthesizer parts[9] and made his first vocal appearance on record singing the chorus of "Walked In Line" on the Warsaw album.[citation needed] In May 1980, the band's singer, Ian Curtis, committed suicide, resulting in Joy Division's end.[10]

New OrderEdit

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.[11] 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.[citation needed]


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.

Bad LieutenantEdit

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.

On 2 July 2009, Sumner confirmed that the single "Sink or Swim" would be released on 28 September 2009 and would be the first off their album Never Cry Another Tear. The single was hosted for free on the band's website prior to its physical release. It was followed by a digital bundle release with remixes of the song by Mark Reeder, James Bright and Teenagers.[12][13]

Other projectsEdit

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 lifeEdit

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.[7] He is a fan of Manchester United FC.[16]

In the mediaEdit

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


Joy DivisionEdit

New OrderEdit


Bad LieutenantEdit


  • Section 25 – "Sakura" (keyboards, 1982)
  • 52nd StreetLook Into My Eyes (synthesizer, production, 1982)
  • Section 25Back To Wonder / Beating Heart (production, 1983)
  • Quando Quango – "Love Tempo" (production, 1983)
  • The Durutti ColumnI Get Along Without You Very Well / Prayer (production, 1983)
  • A Certain Ratio – "I Need Someone Tonite" (synthesizer, 1983)
  • 52nd StreetCool As Ice / Twice As Nice (synthesizer, production, 1983)
  • Surprize – In Movimento (production, 1984)
  • Paul Haig – "The Only Truth" (guitar, production, 1984)
  • Marcel KingReach For Love / Keep On Dancing (synthesizer, production, 1984)
  • Quando Quango2 From Quando (production, 1984)
  • Section 25From The Hip (composer[A], production, 1984)
  • Section 25 – "Looking From A Hilltop (Restructure)" (synthesizer, production, 1984)
  • Section 25 – "Crazy Wisdom" (production, 1985)
  • SHARK VEGAS – "You Hurt Me" (guitar, production, 1985)
  • Paul Haig – "Love and War" (guitar, 1986)
  • Section 25 – "Bad News Week" (production, 1987)
  • A Certain Ratio – "Good Together" (backing vocals, 1989)
  • The Beat Club – "Security (Remix)" (vocals, production, 1990)
  • Banderas – "This Is Your Life" (backing vocals, guitar, 1991)
  • 808 State – "Spanish Heart" (vocals, 1991)
  • Sub Sub – "This Time I'm Not Wrong" (vocals, guitar, 1997)
  • The Chemical Brothers – "Out of Control" (vocals, guitar, 1999)
  • Primal Scream – "Shoot Speed Kill Light" (guitar, 2000)
  • Blank & Jones – "Miracle Cure" (vocals, guitar, 2008)
  • Hot Chip – "Didn't Know What Love Was" (vocals, keyboards, production, 2010)
  • Zachery Allan Starkey – "Force" (keyboards, synthesizer, production, 2020)


  • 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. ^ "Search Results for England & Wales Births 1837-2006 -". Findmypast. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Short bio at". Archived from the original on 6 November 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  8. ^ Savage, Jon (July 1994). "Joy Division: Someone Take These Dreams Away". Mojo.
  9. ^ Reynolds, Simon (2005). Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984. Penguin. ISBN 0-14-303672-6, p. 115
  10. ^ Curtis 1995, p. 132.
  11. ^ Savage, Jon. "Joy Division: Someone Take These Dreams Away." Mojo. July 1994.
  12. ^ Bad Lieutenant "Sink Or Swim" remixes by Mark Reeder, James Bright, Teenagers Archived 28 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Sink Or Swim Reeder". Band Weblogs. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
  14. ^ "Pauline Murray And Invisible Girls, The – Pauline Murray And The Invisible Girls". 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.
  16. ^ "Bernard Sumner interview". Archived from the original on 3 October 2008. Retrieved 29 September 2014.

External linksEdit