Bernard Sumner

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Bernard Sumner
Sumner playing a guitar and singing into a microphone onstage
Sumner performing live with New Order at the Fête de l'Humanité near Paris, France, in 2012
Background information
Also known as Bernard Albrecht, Bernard Dicken, Barney
Born (1956-01-04) 4 January 1956 (age 62)
Broughton, Salford, England[1][2][3]
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • musician
  • record producer
  • remixer
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • keyboards
  • synthesiser
  • melodica
Years active 1973–present
Associated acts
  • Homemade Powertran sequencer[7]

Bernard Sumner (born 4 January 1956), also briefly known as Bernard Albrecht,[8] is an English singer, songwriter, musician and record producer. He is a founding member of both Joy Division and New Order, and is widely credited with the latter band's move towards electronica and synthpop.

Sumner is widely credited in advancing UK dance music, and the popularisation and technological advancement of sequencers. In the early 1990s, he collaborated with former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr as Electronic.

Musical career

Joy Division

Sumner was a founding member of Joy Division, a Salford band formed in 1976. The band is widely considered one of the most influential bands of the era. Primarily known as the band's lead guitarist (his main guitars were a Gibson SG and a Shergold Custom Masquerader), Sumner also played keyboards for synthesizer parts and made his first vocal appearance on record singing the chorus of "Walked In Line" on the Warsaw album. In May 1980, the band's singer, Ian Curtis, committed suicide, resulting in Joy Division's end.

New Order

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. 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.


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 Lieutenant

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.[9][10] As a result of the 2011 reformation of New Order, Bad Lieutenant are now on hiatus.

Other projects

Sumner performing with New Order in 2005

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.[11][12] 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 sharers A Certain Ratio remixing their song "Won't Stop Loving You". He has also recorded tracks with fellow Mancunians 808 State and Sub Sub. 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 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 life

Sumner was educated at Salford Grammar School. From 1976 to 1979, Sumner was employed at the animation studio Cosgrove Hall Films as an artist on Jamie and the Magic Torch. He married Sue Barlow (born 1956) on 28 October 1978.[13] They have a son James Christopher (born 1983). The couple divorced in 1989, just before the release of Technique, an experience reflected in the song "Round & Round".

Sumner lives with his second wife, Sarah Dalton. They have three children: Dylan Christian (born 1992), Tess Iona (born 1994) and Finley Emil (born 2003). He is a fan of the football club Manchester United.[14]

He is commonly known as "Barney", although he is reportedly not fond of the name. An early Joy Division bootleg credited him as "Barney Rubble". Brandon Flowers (of the Killers) has dubbed him the "Chairman of the Beat".[15] Sumner's autobiography Chapter and Verse was published in 2014.

Film portrayals

Sumner has been portrayed on film twice. John Simm played him in the 2002 film 24 Hour Party People, which focused on Factory Records. In the Ian Curtis biopic, Control, he is played by James Anthony Pearson.


For his discographies with Joy Division discography, New Order discography, Electronic (band) and Bad Lieutenant (band).

(Singles featuring Bernard Sumner on guest vocals and/or guitar)

  • The Beat Club - "Security (Remix" (vocals, 1990)
  • 808 State – "Spanish Heart" (vocals, 1991)
  • Sub Sub feat: Bernard Sumner – "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 feat. Bernard Sumner – "Miracle Cure" (vocals, guitar, 2008)
  • Hot Chip, Bernard Sumner & Hot City – "Didn't Know What Love Was" (vocals, keyboards, production, 2010)


  • 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. ^ "How we met: Johnny Marr & Bernard Sumner". 18 July 1999. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 4 May 2018. 
  2. ^ "Bernard Sumner Biography - the early years". Archived from the original on 20 February 2016. Retrieved 4 May 2018. 
  3. ^ "Search Results for England & Wales Births 1837-2006 -". Retrieved 4 May 2018. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ Sutton, Michael. "Bernard Sumner". Allmusic. Archived from the original on 18 October 2015. Retrieved 18 October 2015. 
  6. ^ James, Martin (23 October 2011). "Music: Live: Electronica veterans move with the times". The Independent. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2015. 
  7. ^ Foley, Ryan (5 March 2007). ""Blue Monday" - New Order". Stylus Magazine. Archived from the original on 30 March 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  8. ^ David Nolan Bernard Sumner Confusion (Church Stretton: IMP, 2007), p. 15
  9. ^ [1] Archived 28 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ "Sink Or Swim Reeder - Bad Lieutenant - Official Site". Archived from the original on 30 September 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  11. ^ "Pauline Murray And Invisible Girls, The – Pauline Murray And The Invisible Girls". Archived from the original on 23 April 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  12. ^ Nice, James (September 2014). "Pauline Murray \ Biography". Les Disques du Crépuscule. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  13. ^ "Short bio at". Archived from the original on 6 November 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  14. ^ "Bernard Sumner interview". Archived from the original on 3 October 2008. Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  15. ^ "Watch Brandon Flowers, Bernard Sumner Play New Order Classic - Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 10 July 2017. 

External links

  • Bernard Sumner at AllMusic
  • Bernard Sumner discography at Discogs
  • Bernard Sumner on IMDb
  • New Order Online – semi-official website, endorsed by the band
  • Full list of recordings featuring or remixed by Bernard Sumner.
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