Artist News

Aitch left “fuming” over Ian Curtis mural controversy

By | Published on Tuesday 23 August 2022


Aitch has said that he was “fuming” after he learned that a mural of Ian Curtis in Manchester had been painted over with an advert for his debut album, ‘Close To Home’, which came out last week.

The rapper said that the first he heard about it was on Twitter, telling the BBC: “There was an outrage burst of like, ‘what’s Aitch doing putting his album over Ian’s mural?’, and then I was like, ‘oh god, what’s this?’ I don’t pick and choose where I put my billboards or album promo. I just wake up and drive past it, or see it on the internet, just like everyone else”.

“I was fuming for Ian, and his people and what that mural stands for, and then I was fuming for myself, because I was having such a good week”, he went on. “I was like, ‘the album is coming out in a couple of days, I can’t wait, everything’s going so well’, and then next minute, I was the most hated person in Manchester for about 40 minutes”.

“But it was out of my control”, he insisted again, “and there was nothing I could do, apart from put a stop to it and get it fixed, and obviously that’s exactly what I’ve done, so I think everyone is my friend again now”.

Aitch’s speedy response and promise to get the original mural repainted “pronto” quelled the anger directed at him, but it did not cause it to dissipate entirely. Instead, that anger was redirected to Amazon Music, which had actually commissioned the advert. However, the streaming platform also pleaded ignorance.

In a statement, it said: “As part of our efforts to promote Aitch’s album, we asked our ad agency to create a mural in his hometown of Manchester. Unbeknownst to us, the wall the agency chose for the new artwork already had a mural on it – one honouring the late great Ian Curtis. As soon as we learned of this, we ordered production to stop, and are working with Aitch to restore or replace the original Ian Curtis as soon as possible. Our apologies to all who are justifiably upset”.

Unveiled in 2020, the painting of Curtis on Port Street in the city centre by artist Akse P19 was originally created to mark the start of the Manchester music and mental wellbeing festival Headstock that year. As well as paying tribute to Curtis, it also promoted mental health support service Shout and had subsequently become a popular landmark.

In a post on Instagram, Akse P19 said that he had been in contact with Aitch’s management, Amazon Music’s ad agency and Manchester City Council, telling followers that “we are working together to try to get the Ian Curtis mural reinstated”.

Meanwhile, last week Curtis’s former Joy Division bandmate Peter Cook used the controversy to call for a more permanent tribute to the singer to be erected in Manchester.