A History

Spiral Scratch
April 16, 1992
Rachel Doran



It's been three years since their last studio album, but all is forgiven
with the release of "Wish". A string of live dates at small venues will
give a tiny proportion of fans the chance to see the band in close-up. By
the time you read this, the new album will be on its way to a record store
near you. We take a look at the complete fifteen year history of one of the
world's top bands.

He never went to art school - that's the cry Robert Smith has let out at
many a journalist. It's a comment he's probably been making for most of The
Cure's fifteen year history. Is it really over a decade since Robert Smith
committed murder on a gentleman from the Gulf State area (Killing An Arab)
?

Fifteen years ago, in 1979, you could have seen The Cure for just 1 pound,
performing at London's Marquee Club. For four consecutive Sunday's (a month
of Sundays!) they played alongside Fashion, The Cars, Local Operator, and
Joy Division. Described as playing 'Modern Pop', that tag still fits as
snugly today as it did then. And now, I'd like to tell you a story of some
love cats....

In 1976, for a modest sum, St. Edwards Church Hall in Crawley is hired by
Robert Smith, Michael Dempsey on bass, with two brothers, (names long
forgotten) on drums and vocals. The date is January 23rd. Within three
months, Laurence (Lol) Tolhurst is the bands new drummer: Somewhere along
the way they pick up the name 'Malice'. Rehearsals consist of old Bowie,
Hendrix, and Alex Harvey songs.

By January 77 Malice has been dropped in favour of 'Easy Cure', taken from
a song Lol has written. The band see an advert placed by Ariola-Hansa
announcing a talent search; they enter and are offered a contract - on May
18th they sign to Hansa. Since April Peter O'Toole has been the vocalist.
It's now September and he quits. Robert takes over the vacancy. Hansa have
paid the band a 1000 pound advance, which is wisely spent on new equipment.
In October they enter a studio and demo five songs. A few weeks later, five
more are recorded, including a version of 'Killing an Arab'. Crawley's
other main band are Lockjaw, who have recorded two singles for Raw Records
- their manager is Dave Gallup. His younger brother Simon is the band's
bass player.

On a visit to their regular haunt, 'The Rocket' (19th February 1978), the
members of Easy Cure meet Simon - Lockjaw being this evening's support
band. Hansa decides that this troublesome 'crowd from Crawley' are too much
trouble for them and turn their attention to Japan - the band not the
country. Robert splashes out 20 pounds on a Woolworths Top 20 guitar "the
best guitar I've ever had."

Porl Thompson, who has been guitarist, quits the band, making them a three
piece: Robert Smith (vocals/guitar), Lol Tolhurst (drums), and Michael
Dempsey (bass) and they shortened their name to 'The Cure'. A month later
in May the group record four songs at a local studio and send cassette
copies to all major record companies.

Sitting in his 'Little ivory tower' at Polydor Records HQ is Chris Parry,
head of A&R - the man responsible for signing The Jam and Siouxsie & The
Banshees. After a meeting at his office, he travels down to Redhill to
watch the band play live. Impressed, Parry tells them of his plan to start
his own label, Fiction Records, which will be distributed by Polydor. Both
sides decide to 'give it a go' with an initial six month contract signed
and sealed on 13th September 1978. The rest of the year is a busy one. They
record at Morgan Studios in North West London, play support to various
groups, including Wire and UK Subs, and tour as a support to Generation X.
They also record a John Peel Session, undertaking their first interview
with Adrian Thrills of NME and seeing their debut single released on Small
Wonder records.

'Killing An Arab' has been licensed to Small Wonder by Chris Parry; run by
Peter and Marie Stennet, this is a tiny independent label with an enviable
reputation for releasing good singles. With initial orders of around 2000
copies, this soon grows as the music papers run impressive reviews. Within
weeks the 15,000 copies (the maximum that can be pressed under the
agreement) have all been sold. In February, the single is released on
Fiction records, the sleeve remaining the same. Between now and the release
of their second single in late June, The Cure will play over 50 gigs and
release their 'Three Imaginary Boys' debut album.

In May, as a promotional item only, one thousand single-sided 12" records
of 'Grinding Halt' are made. One of the music papers, thinking it is the
new single gives it a review. The 'real' second single "Boys Don't Cry" is
released on June 26th. From headlining at the Lyceum in London on the first
day of July, various live dates follow, including their first trek on
foreign soil to perform an outdoor festival - in Holland.

By mid '79, the first wave of punk bands are beginning to fade, to be
replaced by a 'new breed'; a darker sound, more moody than its predecessor.
The Gang Of Four, the Mekons, Echo & The Bunnymen, and Joy Division, along
with the Cure, are the bands in the forefront.

Whilst attending a Throbbing Gristle concert, Robert bumps into Steve
Severin, bass player with Siouxsie & The Banshees. The two hit it off so
much so, that the Cure are invited to join The Banshees' forthcoming UK
tour. Within five days of playing the opening night of the Reading Festival
(August 24th) they begin touring with the Banshees.

Things run as smoothly as can be expected, until the tour reaches Aberdeen
on September 6th; around lunch time Siouxsie & The Banshees are making a
personal appearance at the local record store, signing copies of their
album 'Join Hands'. The shop ordered 200 copies - the record company has
sent just 50. These sell out within minutes. Nils Stevenson, the Banshees
Manager, has a stock of 'promo' copies in his car boot, which he sells to
the shop owner. Kenny Morris and John McKay (drummer and guitarist) take it
upon themselves to give out free copies - the store owner complains and an
argument breaks out between the two halves of the band. Kenny and John
refuse to sign any more autographs, then disappear. They return to the
hotel, shape their pillows into sleeping bodies and pin backstage passes to
the beds. They then order a taxi to the railway station and head back to
London. Little has been heard of them since!

That evening Siouxsie and Steve go on stage to explain the situation to the
audience, and they promise a rescheduling of the show. The performance that
night sees an extended performance by the Cure and ends with Siouxsie and
Steve joining the Cure for a rendition of 'The Lord's Prayer'. Robert
offers his services as a temporary stand-in playing each night for both The
Cure and The Banshees. Four shows are cancelled, and The Cure go off to
Rotterdam to headline a pop festival of 10,000 people.

The tour resumes on the 18th, with Robert on guitar and 'Budgie' of The
Slits on drums. During this period, they also find time to record their
third single, 'Jumping Someone Else's Train'. The 'B' side, 'I'm Cold',
features Siouxsie on backing vocals.

The tour ends at the Hammersmith Odeon on October 15th. Michael Dempsey
quits the band, unhappy with the direction Robert's songwriting has been
taking. Simon Gallup replaces him, and Mathieu Hartley takes on the
keyboard responsibilities.

Under the name of The Cult Heroes, a single 'I'm A Cult Hero' is released
by Fiction Records. Musicians appearing on this disc include Simon Gallup,
a postman named 'Frank' (on vocals) and Robert Smith. The record doesn't
sell well. Eric's club in Liverpool sees the live debut of the new line up
exactly two weeks after the release of 'Jumping Someone Else's Train'
(November 2nd).

Liverpool is the first night of 'Future Pasttime' tour. Support acts are
The Passions and The Associates. Three weeks later, the UK leg of the tour
ends in The Cure's home town of Crawley. From there, its on to 11 shows in
Europe, including Paris, Amsterdam and three nights in Einhoven.

The 80s dawn and find the Cure once again in Morgan Studios recording
tracks for the second album. March springs forth with The Cult Heroes' one
and only gig at The Marquee. Robert, Simon Matthieu, Lol, Porl Thompson and
postman Frank, plus two schoolgirls, perform both sides of the single, plus
the entire top ten of five years ago! April seems like a fun month; Robert
plays with The Stranglers at a gig to protest against the imprisonment of
Hugh Cornwall on drug charges; A Forest is released; the band undertake
their first US Tour, playing Boston's Underground Club on Robert's 21st
birthday (April 21st);three days later they are back in the UK and appear
on Top Of The Pops to perform 'A Forest'. The very next day brings the
opening night of their latest tour at Cromer's West Runton Pavillion.

The tour is to promote the just released "17 Seconds", which it seems, is
not being well received by the music press. May through July sees them
touring the UK and Europe. As July closes, the band invade New Zealand for
seven dates, including two nights in Auckland, followed by what was
originally planned as seven nights in Australia - in all they play 24! The
return to England finds the head count back to three as Matthieu leaves the
band.

All too soon, they begin recording tracks for the third album - but it
doesn't work. Instead they undertake a tour of Scandinavia, France, and
Germany. And to see the year out, the band plays several more dates around
the UK, with a final invitation-only show at Leicaster Square in London.
The Notre Dame Hall plays host to The Associates, Tarzan Five, The Scars,
Siouxsie & The Banshees, and of course, The Cure.

In February, Morgan Studios beckon once more, as do other London Studios
like Trident, Red Bus and EMI's famous Abbey Road. The new album 'Faith' is
recorded within the month.

On their previous UK tour, the band offered the opening slot to local
bands, each night some young hopefuls, both good and bad - the trouble is
that soundchecks cause problems. To avoid a repeat of this, and to ensure
that the audience are 'in the right mood' before the band appear, a film
and soundtrack will be shown. Entitled "Carnage Visors" , the soundtrack is
recorded in one day at Point Studios in Victoria. The film is produced by
Simon's brother Rick. Also, 'Primary' is issued as a single and also as the
band's first 12" single. Two weeks later sees the release of "Faith". The
cassette version has the entire album on one side and the soundtrack to
"Carnage Visors" on the other.

The 'Picture' tour begins in Aylesbury. Fed up with equipment always
breaking down, The Cure hire Pink Floyd's PA. 29 shows later, they head off
to Europe. Just before the show at Slittard in Holland, Lol is told of his
mother's death. The show goes on.

Mid July and two days in the studio result in the 'Charlotte Sometimes'
single. Four months on the road takes the band first to the US, on to New
Zealand and Australia, Canada, and finally France. In the meantime, Fiction
Records have released 'Charlotte Sometimes'. Then it's time to hit the road
again - the two support bands are And Also The Trees, plus 1313 featuring
Lydia Lunch. Only eight shows this time then into the studio to demo songs
for the next album.

1982; a new year, a new album to record and a new producer to record it
with - Mike Hedges, who has produced all the previous albums, decides to
work with Siouxsie & The Banshees on their 'A Kiss In The Dream House'
album (thus saving the band the embarrassment of dropping him in favor of
Phil Thornally). And in April, 'Pornography' is released to varied reviews
between 'Average' to 'Killer'. As you would expect, a tour to promote the
album is undertaken, where the band prove once more that they are one of
the hottest properties around. Again, the reviewers sharpen their ears and
lift their pens in praise. 'The new Pink Floyd', 'meaningful
entertainment.' They are certainly enjoying the tag 'flavour of the month'.
But thirty days is a long time, especially in the music business.

The 'Fourteen Explicit Moments' tour, with superb Irish support band Zerra
1, visits town after town, ending up at London's Hammersmith Odeon on May
Day. Four weeks in Europe and trouble looms. After the show in Stasbourg,
Robert and Simon have a nasty fight - both walking out, only to return to
finish the tour. Simon then departs. Come July, Fiction Records release
'The Hanging Garden' single. This sees their first venture into the Record
Collectors market, with the addition of a double single in a gatefold
sleeve, limited to 10,000 copies. It then reverts to a normal 7". A 12"
single is also pressed.

During July/August, Lol sets off on a month's holiday in Europe, while
Robert goes camping with long time girlfriend Mary. "I lost my virginity
when I was 15. I lost it with Mary. She was the nicest girl in the school."

Robert later admits that during this period The Cure exist in name only!
Indeed, when Flexi Pop magazine ask The Cure for an exclusive track, they
are given 'Lament' recorded by Robert and Steve Severin. As October
approaches and all is quiet, Chris Parry asks Robert and Lol to record a
new single. Lol has used the free time to learn keyboards; and so, with
Steve Goulding on drums, the totally unexpected 'Let's Go To Bed' single is
born. "It started as a disco experiment." When released, the 12" has
extended (dancing) mixes.' A video is planned to accompany the record and
the band starts a long term relationship with video director Tim Pope.

Siouxsie & The Banshees have arranged a tour to start in November. Since
Robert deputized for them many moons back, John McGeough has held the
position of guitarist. He now leaves, and Robert agrees to return once more
on a tour. this helps to fuel rumours that The Cure have finally called it
a day. Lol meanwhile, is producing an album for And Also The Trees.

When Robert is asked if he has joined the Banshees permanently he replies,
'I'm just the guitarist with The Banshees. There's nothing formal, which is
probably why it's working. I get on well with Siouxsie, which is strange
because I'm one the few who do."

Following the Banshees lengthy world tour, Robert is approached by Nicholas
Dixon, choreographer to The Royal Ballet. The resulting project is 'Siamese
Twins' (from the 'Pornography ' album), with Lol on keyboards, Steve
Severin on bass, and Marc Almond's Veno Mettes on backing vocals. The live
performance is greeted with considerable critical acclaim. Following on
this, Robert and Steve Severin begin work on a project they have planned
for a long time but have been unable to undertake due to their other
commitments.

And so is born 'The Glove', named after a character in the Beatles' Yellow
Submarine cartoon movie, with Jeanette Landray as vocalist. What starts off
as a one-off single develops into fifteen songs recorded in three days! An
album 'Blue Sunshine' and two singles 'Like An Animal' (August 1983), and
'Punish Me With Kisses' (November 1983) are to be released on the Banshees
newly formed Wonderland label.

A request for The Cure to perform two songs live on BBC TVs Oxford Road
Show programme obviously catches Robert on a good day and the offer is
accepted. With drummer Andy Anderson (from Brilliant), Derek Thompson (of
SPK), Lol and Robert, 'Figurehead' and '100 Years' are performed. Suddenly,
reports of the bands demise look a little premature.

Without a delay, the band begins work on a new single. 'The Walk', released
in July, is picked by Radio One, and sales increase day by day until the
single enters the charts, peaking at number 12 and giving the band their
biggest hit to date. Again, Fiction play the 'Catch the Collector's' game
with the issue of the 7" single in a limited edition poster sleeve, and a
7" picture disc.

In the summertime of '83 the buzz is growing about the Elephant Fayre to be
held during the last days of July, with the Cure as headline act. Everyone
knows they will be playing a secret warm up gig or two, but where ? In the
end, it is Bath and Bournemouth. On the second day of the three day
festival, the band takes the stage and play a magnificent set comprising:
Figurehead/In Your House/The Drowning Man/Cold/Siamese Twins/ Primary/Three
Imaginary Boys/At Night/Lament/A Hundred Years/ Play For Today/A
Forest/Faith/Pornography/10:15 Saturday Night/ Killing An Arab/Forever
-almost certainly the longest set they ever played to date.

Their performance has assured people that they are not only back, but with
a new vigor. The 14 month lay-off has obviously been a rest - Cure!

August sees the release of The Glove's 'Like An Animal' single. Around this
time a new Cure single is also laid down on tape: 'Lovecats', the following
month Robert, along with The Banshees, visits Rome for a live show, and the
recording of 'Dear Prudence', a song written by John Lennon and Paul
McCartney and taken from the Beatles' 'White' album. It is Robert's first
actual recording with the Banshees (as opposed to the other way around!).

Robert and The Cure now consist of Robert, Lol, Andy Anderson and Phil
Thornally on bass; they start recording demos for the next album. London's
famous Royal Albert Hall plays host to two nights of Siouxsie & The
Banshees on the last night of September and the first night of October.
It's virtually seven years to the day since the Banshees played their debut
live performance at the Punk festival held at The 100 Club in London's
Oxford Street. The Cure have also been an entity for nearly as long!

With Robert still the stand-in guitarist, both nights are recorded and
videoed. The end result, a double album (and video) entitled 'Nocturne' are
quickly released, but not before the cassette's bootleggers have a field
day.

The end of October has the release of the 'Love Cats' single. A 7" picture
disc is also issued. If people rushed out to buy the last single, then this
time the queues are even longer. The single peaks at number 7 - the band's
first ever top ten hit! To end a year many people thought the band would
never see comes the release of an eight-track retrospective mini album,
'Japanese Whispers', a Top Of The Pops TV show with Robert appearing twice,
and The Banshees' 'Dear Prudence' and The Cure's 'Love Cats'. The second
single by The Glove, 'Punish Me With Kisses', also has seen the light of
day, as has the 'Blue Sunshine' album.

With a new year (1984) comes renewed enthusiasm and a heavy workload for
Mr. Smith. Time must be juggled between recording new albums from The
Banshees ('Hyena') and The Cure ('The Top'); Tim Pope has also been
promised some help with his solo single 'I Want To Be A Tree'.

Edingburgh playhouse on a mild April night finds The Cure opening their new
British Tour. Days later, the album 'The Top' and a single 'The
Caterpillar' are both unleashed. The reviewers rave and the fans flock to
purchase copies.

While touring Europe, Robert finally decides he has to leave a band. His
decision is, luckily, to leave The Banshees, not the Cure. He tells
Siouxsie he will undertake their forthcoming UK tour, but no overseas work.
(The Banshees decide it's time to find a full-time replacement and they
eventually settle on John Carruthers, previously with Clock DVA).

The late months of summer find Robert listening to hour upon hour of live
recordings to choose tracks from the proposed live album, 'Concert'.
Released in October the cassette version features the bonus of
'Curiousity', comprising demos and live tracks. Meanwhile, the band have
been touring. A world tour opens in New Zealand. When it moves to the USA,
Robert sacks drummer Andy Anderson. Vince Ely of the Psychedelic Furs steps
in for two weeks. But it is impossible to stay longer. Ex-Thompson Twins
sticks man Boris Williams is drafted in. After the tour, Phil Thornally
quits to pursue a solo career. Robert asks Simon Gallup to rejoin and the
offer is accepted.

The new look five-piece line up now comprises: Robert, Lol, Porl, Boris,
and Simon. Angel Studios are booked and the band enter to start work on a
new album. The final work is the magnificent 'Head On The Door', issued in
August. The 'In between Days' single, issued a month earlier, reaches
number 15 in the charts.

Robert reveals that the title for the album dates back to his childhood.
'Did your Mum and Dad ever do puppet shows like draw a face on their hands
and go Waargh! from behind the sofa and really scare you...? There's
something about the way a puppets head will roll off...so we were gonna
call it 'The Head On The Pole' and then I changed it.' It becomes Melody
Makers album of the year. A second single from the album, 'Close To Me', is
released in September. It surprises many fans as they never before lifted
two singles from one album, although many would remind you 'Close To Me' is
a remixed version.

Inevitably, it's time to tour again. This time the opening night takes
place in St. Austell. The success of The Cure has now grown to the stage
where the band plays Birmingham NEC and Wembley Arena. A far cry from the
days when they played to a half-full crowd at the Marquee. Even in the US,
they are attracting large crowds. The US tour climaxes with a sold out
engagement at New York City's Radio City Music Hall.

In April 1986, a remixed version of 'Boys Don't Cry' with new vocals is
released. The single is a taster from the soon to be released 'Standing On
A Beach' album, a compilation of the band's thirteen singles to date.
Greenpeace organize a week long string of benefits, the climax of which is
the Cure headlining at the Royal Albert Hall. Tucked away in Beethoven
Studios in London for a month, the band records demos for the next album.
The studio is located in London's West 10 area, within two miles of
Robert's home.

The final recording's take place in France, over eighteen months since the
last 'proper' Cure single 'Why Can't I Be You is released (April 1987). A
month later, the long awaited 'Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me' takes its place
in record stores. The reviewers seem to like it!

Two more singles are released: 'Catch' (June 1987) and 'Just Like Heaven'
(September 1987). The band then set out on tour. Tim Pope's video, 'The
Cure Live In Orange', featuring 90 minutes of a French festival, is
released. The band has gone from one extreme (no new releases) to a year
with an album, video, three singles and a massive tour.

For the tour, the services of keyboard player Roger O'Donnell are
recruited. The first UK date is at Birmingham's NEC, followed by three sold
out nights at the giant Wembley Arena.

A double bootleg album taken from the NEC gig shows us that the band
performed the following set: The Kiss/Torture/A Strange day/A Japanese
Dream/Catch/Just Like Heaven/Hot Hot Hot/If Only Tonite We Could Sleep/Like
Cockatoos/The Walk/In Between Days/ How Beautiful You Are/A Perfect
Girl/The Snakepit/A Forest/ Fight/Close To Me/Let's Go To Bed/One More
Time/Charlotte Sometimes/Faith/Three Imaginary Boys/Primary/Boys Don't
Cry/Why Can't I Be You.

In August 1988 a year in which all seemed quiet, Robert finally married
Mary. The rest of the year was spent in recording a new album. They finally
saw the light of day in April 1989 as 'Disintegration'. Three months later,
tickets for their live shows were completely sold out at all venues.

'Disintegration', although evoking comparisons with 'Faith' and Pornography
also showed once again the Cure's gift for evolution, each album a natural
progression whilst never failing to surprise. 'Disintegration', although
different in style, was indeed as sombre and intense a journey as
'Pornography'.

There followed in 1990 dance remixes of 'Never Enough' and 'Close To Me',
then the double album of remixes, 'Mixed Up'. Predictably, Cure fans were
appalled. The Cure jumping on the dance bandwagon? Smith appealed to them
to listen to 'Mixed Up' twice before passing judgment, but I'm skeptical
about how many would grant it a second chance. The Cure may move with the
times, but I doubt if their black clad following possess the same ability.

In 1991, The Cure released 'Entreat', a live a album. I'm not personally a
fan of live albums; they always seem like a cheap way to make money by
exploiting the collector instinct in us, since the sound is rarely up to
scratch.

And this takes up to the present, where the Cure's latest single 'High' is
currently at number 5 in the network charts and their album 'Wish' is
expected on April 21st. The new album promises to be less sombre than
'Disintegration', having been recorded in an entirely different atmosphere,
at a time when The Cure have been discovering the delights of having fun.

That should be ... interesting!


Last Revised: Monday, 15-May-2006 20:00:06 CST

[ top | current events | cure fan discussion | discussion board profiles | discussion board faq | discography | boot reviews ]
[ tour dates/reviews | interviews | photo gallery | comments? | books | lyrics | tablature ]
[ links | mailing list info | a note about the site | fan clubs/zines | for sale/trade/wanted ]
maintained by: Verdugo