When he was three years old, in 1959, his parents divorced.He and his brothers were brought up by his maternal grandmother Alicia Acton (née Chapman; 1896–1968) until 1962, when his mother remarried Ernest W. Like his bandmate Bernard Sumner, he took his stepfather's surname, although in contrast to his friend he kept it, even creating his nickname, "Hooky", from it.

He is best known as the bassist and co-founder of English rock bands Joy Division and New Order.

Hook formed the band which was to become Joy Division with Bernard Sumner in 1976.

In October 2009, Hook published his book on his time as co-owner of the Hacienda, How Not to Run a Club.

Hook then opened a new club and live venue in Manchester, FAC 251 – The Factory, in February 2010 singing lead vocals with his band, the Light.

Hook also co-owned the Suite Sixteen recording studio formerly Cargo Studios which Hook purchased with Chris Hewitt in 1984.

Cargo and Suite Sixteen in Kenion Street, Rochdale were major studios in the history of punk and post punk music.

In the late 1980s, Hook also worked as a producer for bands such as Inspiral Carpets and the Stone Roses. Inspired by Clint Boon of Inspiral Carpets, he started with the Return to New York nights in London.

He has recorded one album with the band Revenge and two with Monaco (both as bassist, keyboardist and lead vocalist) with David Potts, the latter of which scored a club and alternative radio hit "What Do You Want From Me? He contributed a distinctive bassline to Hybrid's 2003 single "True to Form", as well as another track from their Morning Sci-Fi album, "Higher Than a Skyscraper", playing on stage with them on a number of dates of their ensuing tour.

He then played and recorded a studio album, It's a Beautiful Life, with a new band project called Freebass with bass players Mani (The Stone Roses) and Andy Rourke (ex-the Smiths).