Martin Hannett  

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"Martin Hannett was portrayed by Andy Serkis in the 2002 film 24 Hour Party People, which was based on Tony Wilson's career as the co-founder of Factory Records and The Haçienda nightclub."--Sholem Stein

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Martin Hannett (1948 – 1991) was an English record producer and an original partner/director at Tony Wilson's Factory Records.

Hannett produced albums by a range of artists, including Joy Division, the Durutti Column, Magazine, John Cooper Clarke, New Order, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, and Happy Mondays.

His distinctive production style utilized unorthodox methods of sound recording and has been described as sparse, spatial, and cavernous.



Early years

Born in Manchester, family in Miles Platting, Manchester; he attended Corpus Christi school and Xaverian College in Rusholme. In 1967, he went to the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST), where he earned a degree in chemistry but chose not to pursue the profession.


Hannett's uncle was a bass player and gave his nephew a bass guitar when he was 14. Hannett played bass with Spider Mike King and as member in a band called Paradox, in 1973, alongside Paul Young, later of Sad Café and Mike + The Mechanics.

His production work began with the animation film soundtrack All Kinds of Heroes, written by Steve Hopkins (with whom Hannett later worked again). By this time, he also began to mix live sound at pub gigs. Other early production works included Greasy Bear material, Belt & Braces Road Show Band's eponymous album in 1975 and five songs from Pete Farrow's repertoire recorded at Pennine Studios, Oldham, later included on Farrow's compilation album Who Says There's No Beach in Stockport. He attracted more musical attention in 1977, when, as Martin Zero, he produced the first independent punk record, Buzzcocks' Spiral Scratch EP. Under the same moniker he produced early records by punk poet John Cooper Clarke, whose Salford monotone was complemented by drum machines, simple synthesiser motifs and Hannett's bass playing. Jilted John's first single (Jilted John) was Hannett's first hit single.

Hannett became closely associated with Joy Division; Hannett's production incorporated looping technology to treat musical notes with an array of filters, echoes and delays. Hannett had a collection of BBD echo devices which he had amassed and called his "bluetop echo and delay boxes". The first synthesizers Hannett and Joy Division guitarist Bernard Sumner used were Transcendent 2000s and then ARP Omnis. Hannett also owned and used several Jen SX1000s and an International 4600 synthesiser modular synth on many early recordings. Later in his career he owned a Minimoog and several ARP 2600 synths.

Legend has it that he once forced Joy Division drummer Stephen Morris to take apart his drum kit during a recording session and reassemble it, with parts from a toilet. He reputedly had Morris set up his kit on a first floor flat roof outside the fire escape at Cargo Recording Studios, Rochdale. The studio was used for the recording of Digital, Glass, Atmosphere, Dead Souls and Ice Age. Hannett's unorthodox production methods resulted in drum sounds mixed with synthesisers that were complex and highly distinctive. According to Hannett: "There was a lot of space in [Joy Division's] sound. They were a gift to a producer, because they didn't have a clue. They didn't argue. A Factory Sample was the first thing I did with them. I think I'd had the new AMS delay line for about two weeks. It was called 'Digital'. It was heaven sent."

Hannett produced U2's first international single, "11 O'Clock Tick Tock", which was released in May 1980. He was set to produce their debut album, Boy, but after the suicide of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, Hannett was too distraught to work and backed out.

A rift developed with Factory and he sued them in 1982 over various financial matters. The dispute was eventually settled out of court; the lawsuit is listed as part of the Factory Records catalog as FAC61. When Hannett returned to produce the Happy Mondays he worked as a freelance producer and was not reinstated as a Factory director.

Susanne O'Hara was his partner from 1972 until 1984. They lived together from 1975 in Chorlton and Didsbury, in Manchester. O'Hara worked with Hannett at Music Force, a musicians' cooperative in Manchester, until it closed when Hannett's production career began to develop, around 1979.


After Factory, Hannett's career declined due to his heavy drinking and drug use, especially heroin; his weight eventually reached 26 stone (165 kilograms, 363 pounds). Hannett died on 18 April 1991 at the age of 42 in Manchester, as a result of heart failure. Hannett is survived by a wife, son and stepdaughter. His headstone at Manchester Southern Cemetery pays him tribute as the creator of The Manchester Sound. A film documentary looking at Hannett's life and featuring many of the people he was in bands with, engineered or produced was released on DVD on the 23rd anniversary of his death on 10 April 2014. A book was released the same day, Martin Hannett – Pleasures of the Unknown by Chris Hewitt. Another book by Hewitt, "Martin Hannett, His Equipment and Strawberry Studios", was published on 26 January 2016 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Strawberry Recording Studios. Several weeks after his death, Factory Records released "Martin: The Work of Martin Hannett" (FACT325) as a tribute.

Fictional portrayals

Hannett was portrayed by Andy Serkis in the 2002 film 24 Hour Party People, which was based on Tony Wilson's career as the co-founder of Factory Records and The Haçienda nightclub. In the DVD commentary, Wilson notes a review that described Hannett as Serkis' "strangest role" and points out that Serkis is best known for his portrayal of Gollum in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Wilson concludes that the reviewer's implication is correct, that indeed, Hannett was far stranger than the Lord of the Rings character. Hannett was portrayed by Ben Naylor in Anton Corbijn's film Control (2007).

Selected discography

Albums produced

Singles and EPs produced


  • Martin: The Work of Martin Hannett (Factory Records, 1991)
  • And Here is the Young Man (Debutante, 1998)
  • Zero: A Martin Hannett Story 1977–1991' (Big Beat, 2006)
  • Martin Hannett- Maverick Producer, Genius and Musician 2-CD set ( Ozit Morpheus Records Sept 2011)

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Martin Hannett" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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