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Gillian Gilbert was born in Manchester, UK on 27th January 1961. She has a sister, Kim.

Her first band was called ‘The Inadequates’ – an appropriate name, for as Gillian herself admits, ‘None of us could play a note, we just thought it would be cool to be able to say we were in a band just like everybody else.’ After Joy Division had been together for a couple of years, Gillian started seeing their new drummer, Stephen Morris, attending as many gigs as possible from late 1978.

"I vaguely knew Joy Division," recalled Gillian, "I used to go and see them and then I got to know Stephen-I think it was one night at Liverpool Eric's and Ian had hurt his hand on a bottle or something, so he couldn't play the guitar for one number, so as I could play guitar a bit, I played that one number. Then, some months later, the others called me."

This was Gillian’s own account of her first ‘proper’ on stage appearance with her future husband. The ‘some months later’ to which she refers is regarding the request for her to join the recently formed New Order after the death of Joy Division’s singer, Ian Curtis.

The other members of Joy Division had decided to continue as a band, under a different name, in keeping with an arrangement made in the early days of the group, should any original band member leave for any reason. All three remaining members of the band had experimented with the task of handling lead vocals, with Bernard Sumner apparently being the most obvious choice. The main problem was that he found it difficult to sing and play guitar at the same time, so, at Rob Gretton’s suggestion, Gillian was asked to take over Bernard’s previous role – guitar and keyboards. With the benefit of hindsight, she was an obvious choice as she already knew all the members of the band and most of their songs – at least how the tunes ran, if not which chords to play!

So, in late 1980, Gillian became the official fourth member of New Order. The band had already played a handful of live dates and had even recorded a version of one of the last ever Joy Division songs, ‘Ceremony’. This was then re-recorded with Gillian playing guitar and released as a single in the UK and Europe, later being released worldwide.

After a few more gigs to get Gillian ‘into the swing of things,’ the band recorded their first album, ‘Movement’. Gillian not only played guitar and some synthesiser parts, she also contributed some vocals too.

Tours, albums, singles and videos followed, with the band going from strength to strength.

In 1993, after the release of what was widely presumed to be the last ever New Order album, ‘Republic,’ Gillian and Stephen ‘left’ New Order to form their own band, ‘The Other Two,’ – a side-swipe at the music press, who would often refer to Gillian and Stephen as ‘The other two in New Order’. Apart from New Order, they had previously worked together on a number of UK television themes and soundtracks, including the acclaimed ‘Cold Feet’ and ‘Making Out’.

Gillian and Stephen were engaged in 1993, publicly announcing the fact during the filming of Kevin Hewitt’s ‘The New Order Story’. They were married shortly afterwards in a private and low-key ceremony. During the 1990s, Gillian gave birth to two daughters, Grace and Mathilde.

Towards the middle of 1998, New Order surprised and delighted fans by announcing that they’d agreed to take the headline spot at the Reading Music Festival. The band were playing live again, and this performance would prove to be one of Gillian’s last with the band to date.

Unfortunately, one of Gillian and Stephen’s young daughters became ill and so family commitments had to be a priority. Another consideration in the decision for Gillian to at least temporarily leave the band was that it would be easier to replace her than it would Stephen.

New Order began recording a new album in 2000, released in August 2001, called ‘Get Ready’. Gillian was replaced on guitar/keyboards by Phil Cunningham. Although Gillian apparently had some input to the album and the associated studio sessions, she has since, only appeared briefly onstage with New Order – playing short bursts of keyboards, the occasional backing vocals and even the odd spot of dancing…

It has been confirmed that Gillian will not be 'officially' rejoining the band, though she may well make guest appearances on recordings and the occasional live appearance, albeit 'backstage' or providing backing vocals.

- Chris Nash


Touching From A Distance – Deborah Curtis
Pleasures & Wayward Distractions – Brian Edge

Last updated on 2005-05-11 4:32:00 AM - 4:32:00 AM
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