Along with his two friends he attended the two Sex Pistols gigs in Manchester in 1976, which prompted them to form a band, that was to become Joy Division.
"Barney" has used different names: Bernard Sumner most often, but also Bernard Dicken for a short period of time and Bernard Albrecht when he was in Joy Division: he had decided to take his stepfather's surname like Hooky, but unlike him he later changed his mind.
He played the guitar and some synthesiser - in the last two years of Joy Division existence. Without the shadow of a doubt, Bernard was the motionless one on stage, except for his hands on the guitar. His playing evolved a lot from the early punk songs to the late ones.
After Joy Division, while still playing guitar and keyboards, he became New Order's lead singer and lyricist, though Peter and Stephen also contributed vocals on early tracks. In addition he served as a record producer for Factory Records and later formed the side project Electronic.
After the departure of Peter Hook from New Order in 2007 and when the band's future was unclear he formed Bad Lieutenant with Stephen.
He was the second member to write a book to tell his story about Joy Division and New Order.