Peter Hook, bassist of New Order describes how “Blue Monday” the best-selling 12-inch single in music history managed to lose $100,000. The single was released 40 years ago, on March 7, 1983 and to this day it holds the record as the top-selling 12-inch single in recording history.
Peter Hook explains that it all came down to indie label Factory Records’ use of the costly sleeve.
“[Graphic designer] Peter [Saville] came to the practice place, and he saw a floppy disk and he loved it,” Hook recalls, as he sits with Yahoo Entertainment reflecting on his illustrious discography with both New Order and the band from which New Order sprang, the equally influential Joy Division, who were just jointly nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. “And he felt we should do the sleeve [to look] like this. … Unbeknownst to him, it had to be die-cut three times, which made the sleeve ridiculously expensive — which [New Order bandmate] Stephen Morris thought was hilarious, because you were paying for the bits that you didn’t get, the hole, where the card had gone!”
“But, yeah, the sleeve unfortunately cost 10p [approximately 20 cents] more than the record could earn, so every time we sold a copy of ‘Blue Monday,’ we were losing 10p,” Hook elaborates with a rueful chuckle: “It then went on to be the biggest-selling 12-inch of all time! I remember [Factory Records label head] Tony [Wilson] going to great trouble to cast a brass Factory symbol that said, ‘Well Done, Hooky!’ celebrating a loss of 50,000 pounds. … I suppose it really seals its place in history as a mythical being for that reason.”