Thieves steal Joy Division singer's memorial stone

Thu Jul 3, 2008 8:48am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - Thieves have stolen a memorial stone for Ian Curtis, frontman of the influential British post-punk band Joy Division.

The stone, bearing the epitaph "Love Will Tear Us Apart" -- the title of the band's most famous song -- was taken from Macclesfield Crematorium in northern England on Monday or Tuesday, police said.

Fans from all over the world would travel to the site to pay their respects, often leaving messages and tokens behind.

A married man, Curtis committed suicide in 1980 at the age of 23, shortly before the band, an inspiration for many other groups and musicians, were due to begin a U.S. tour.

He had struggled to deal with the demands of combining home life and being in the band, the strain of epilepsy and falling in love with another woman. His personal troubles were often reflected in dark, painful lyrics, which he wrote.

Local officials have appealed for the stone's return.

"I'm shocked this has happened," said Bill North of Macclesfield Borough Council. "Someone's gone to a great deal of trouble to remove the memorial stone and I hope our appeal will help return it as soon as possible."

Curtis's widow Debbie had been informed, the council said.

"This is a very unusual theft and I am confident that someone locally will have knowledge about who is responsible or where the memorial stone is at present," said police Inspector Gareth Woods.

Curtis returned to prominence after two films about his life were released last year. After his death, the three other members of Joy Division went on to form the successful band New Order.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Keith Weir)