Members: Robert Smith, Porl Thompson, Simon Gallup, Jason Cooper
Active: 1976 - present
HISTORY The Cure are a successful English rock band, widely seen as one of the leading pioneers of the British alternative rock scene of the 1980s. A combination of lead singer Robert Smith's iconic wild hair, pale complexion, smudged lipstick, and the frequently gloomy and introspective lyrics have led to the band being primarily classified as gothic rock.
The first incarnation of what became The Cure was The Obelisk; a Notre Dame Middle School band from Crawley, Sussex featuring Robert Smith (piano), Michael Dempsey (guitar), Laurence "Lol" Tolhurst (percussion), Marc Ceccagno (lead guitar) and one Alan Hill on bass guitar. This group was formed in December of 1972. Smith later played in another school band known only as "the group", and was also a member of his older brother Richard Smith's The Crawley Goat Band (see also Robert Smith). In January 1976 former Obelisk guitarist Marc Ceccagno formed Malice with Robert Smith (now also on guitar) and Michael "Mick" Dempsey (switching to bass), along with two other classmates from St. Wilfrid's Catholic Comprehensive School. Ceccagno soon left, however, to form a Jazz-rock fusion band called Amulet. Increasingly influenced by the emergence of punk rock, Malice's remaining members became known as Easy Cure in January 1977. Smith and Dempsey had by this time been joined by Lol Tolhurst from The Obelisk on drums, and new lead guitarist Porl Thompson. Both Malice and Easy Cure also trialed several unsuccessful vocalists before Smith finally assumed the role of Easy Cure's frontman in September/October of 1977.
During the same year, The Easy Cure auditioned for Hansa Records and received a recording contract and prize money of ?1000 that was spent on musical instruments. In March of 1978, however, following disagreements about the direction the group should take (see Easy Cure), the band's contract with Hansa was dissolved. In late April Porl Thompson was dropped from the group and the new trio (Smith/Tolhurst/Dempsey) re-emerged as The Cure for their first gig on May 18th 1978. Their first studio recordings as The Cure were recorded nine days later (May 27th) at Chestnut Studios in Sussex, and distributed as a demo tape to various major record labels. The Chestnut recordings have more recently been officially reissued on the 2004 Deluxe Edition of the band's debut album. On September 13th The Cure signed with former Polydor Records scout Chris Parry's new Fiction label (distributed by Polydor). However, as a stop-gap while Fiction finalised distribution arrangements with Polydor, on December 22nd 1978 The Cure released their debut single Killing an Arab on the Small Wonder label. Killing an Arab garnered both acclaim and controversy: while the single's provocative title led to accusations of racism, the song is actually based on French existentialist Albert Camus' story The Stranger. The band placed a sticker label that denied the racist connotations on the single's 1979 reissue on Fiction. The sticker was also featured on the 1986 compilation, Standing on a Beach, but the song was conspicuously absent from the 2004 Rhino "deluxe edition" of Three Imaginary Boys.
The Cure released the album Three Imaginary Boys on May 5th 1979. The band (particularly Smith) were reportedly unhappy with their debut album, claiming they had no creative control over the final artwork or running order. One particular bone of contention was the inclusion of the Jimi Hendrix cover Foxy Lady, which Smith said was only recorded as a sound check, but which was released because some representatives of the record label felt that the inclusion of a cover song would help the album's sales. Smith said Chris Parry's production changed the group's sound radically, which alienated Parry from the group.
From May to July '79 The Cure toured England and Wales to promote the album, followed by a short stint of festival dates in Belgium and the Netherlands before the end of July. Meanwhile, the next single Boys Don't Cry had been released in June and was a minor hit in the U.S. The Cure then embarked as the support band for Siouxsie & The Banshees' Join Hands promotional tour of England, Northern Ireland, Wales, and the Netherlands between August and October. The tour saw Smith pull double duty each night by performing with The Cure and as the guitarist with The Banshees when John McKay suddenly quit the latter just one night into the tour.
Michael Dempsey was sacked from The Cure immediately after the tour's completion in October (see Michael Dempsey), but appeared as bassist on the next Cure single Jumping Someone Else's Train released later that month. By November Dempsey had become the bassist for the Associates, and Simon Gallup (bass) and Matthieu Hartley (keyboards) from Horley post-punk/new wave band the Mag Spys had joined The Cure. The Associates toured as support band for The Cure and The Passions on the Future Pastimes Tour of England between November and December (all three bands were on the Fiction Records roster); with the new Cure lineup already performing a number of new songs for the projected second album. Meanwhile, a spin-off band comprising Robert Smith, Lol Tolhurst, Michael Dempsey, Simon Gallup, Matthieu Hartley and Porl Thompson, with backing vocals from assorted family and friends, and lead vocals provided by their local postman Frankie Bell also released a 7 inch single in November under the assumed name of Cult Hero, featuring the songs I'm a Cult Hero and I Dig You.
In 1980 Three Imaginary Boys was repackaged for the U.S market as Boys Don't Cry, with new artwork and a new tracklist incorporating the non-album singles.
In 1980 the foursome released the minimalist Seventeen Seconds, produced by Mike Hedges, which reached #20 on the UK charts. "A Forest" became the band's first UK hit single, reaching #31 on the singles chart. The music press generally admired the band, although Smith was pressed concerning the concept of an alleged "anti-image". The Cure set out on their first world tour, at the end of which Matthieu Hartley left the band.
1981 saw the release of the melancholic Faith, their third album, which hit #14 on the UK charts. All concerns about the band's lack of image consciousness, first raised by Chris Parry, evaporated as Smith adopted a theatrical hairstyle and make-up, reminiscent of Siouxsie, that he continues to employ today. The band also released an instrumental soundtrack for the film Carnage Visors. Carnage Visors was used as a "tour support" film, in place of an opening act, for their 1981 Picture Tour. The music from Carnage Visors had a very limited print run and has subsequently become very rare in its original form, but along with much of The Cure's catalogue, has recently been re-mastered and re-issued on CD. In late 1981, The Cure released the non-album track "Charlotte Sometimes".
Beginning at twenty-one, Smith "didn't see that there was much point in continuing with life"; (however, he has also said his ambition at age 14 was to sit on a mountain and die, so the sentiment was not new). The band members' lives began to be marked by increasing drug use, particularly alcohol, but also LSD. As a consequence, The Cure recorded and released in 1982 the dark and disturbing Pornography, a nihilistic offering that led to more rumours that Smith was suicidal, rumours likely spurred by the legacy of Ian Curtis' suicide following Joy Division's similarly fatalistic album Closer. In spite of (or perhaps because of) all these rumours, Pornography became the band's first UK Top 10 album, entering the charts at #8 (despite the fact that only one favorable review appeared in the British press). The release was followed by the Fourteen Explicit Moments tour, which saw a series of incidents that prompted Simon Gallup to abruptly leave The Cure and start another band, called Fools Dance. He and Smith didn't see each other for almost two years following his departure. Smith has said that he "doesn't even remember making a lot of Pornography".
To escape, as an act of survival, the morbid and opressing atmosphere constituted by their previous albums ("The Dark Trilogy"), The Cure released a series of three pop singles; beginning in late 1982 with "Let's Go to Bed," which was a minor hit in the UK, followed in 1983 by two more successful songs: "The Walk" (UK #12), and the playful "The Lovecats," which became the band's first UK Top 10 reaching #7. They released these studio singles and their b-sides as the compilation album Japanese Whispers, designed by Smith for the Japanese market only, but released worldwide on the decision of the record company. The same year, Smith also recorded and toured with Siouxsie & the Banshees, contributing his writing and playing skills on their Hyaena and Nocturne albums, as well as recording the Blue Sunshine album with Steven Severin as The Glove. Robert Smith also co-produced the album From Under the Hill with Mike Hedges for the band And Also the Trees, who The Cure later toured with in 1984.
In 1984 The Cure released The Top, a tonally diverse yet generally psychedelic album on which Smith played all the instruments except the drums (which were played by Andy Anderson) and the saxophone (which was played by returnee Porl Thompson). This LP was a Top 10 hit in the UK and was their first studio album to break the Billboard 200 in the U.S., reaching #180. The Cure then embarked on their worldwide "Top Tour" with Thompson, Anderson, and bassist Phil Thornalley on board. Released in late 1984, The Cure's first live album, Concert consisted of performances from this tour. At tour's end, Anderson was fired for destroying a hotel room and replaced by Boris Williams. Thornalley left and was replaced by returnee Simon Gallup, after being asked to rejoin by Smith.
In 1985, the new lineup released The Head on the Door which reached #7 in the UK and made the Top 10 in several European charts, and for the first time entered the American Top 75 at #59, expanding considerably their audience; a success partly due to the international impact of the LP's two singles, "In Between Days" and "Close to Me". Following this album and another world tour, the band released Standing on a Beach in three formats (each with a different track listing and a specific name) in 1986. This was a compilation featuring all of The Cure's singles from 1978 to 1986. The album's title was taken from the first line of the band's first single, "Killing an Arab". This compilation made the US Top 50, and saw the re-issue of three previous singles: "Boys Don't Cry" (in a new form), "Let's Go To Bed" and later "Charlotte Sometimes". This release was accompanied by VHS and LaserDisc called Staring at the Sea, which featured videos for each track on the compilation. The Cure toured to support the compilation and released a live concert VHS of the show, filmed in the south of France called The Cure in Orange.
During this time, The Cure became a very popular band in Europe (particularly in France, Germany and in the Benelux) and increasingly popular in the USA. Throughout 1986 Lol Tolhurst's alcohol consumption was interfering with his ability to perform, and Psychedelic Furs keyboardist Roger O'Donnell was frequently called upon to stand in for him.
In 1987, The Cure released the double LP Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, which reached #6 in the UK, the Top 5 in several European countries and #35 in the US, due to the combination of the group's rising popularity and the success of lead single, "Why Can't I Be You?" (Top 30 hit in UK, France, Germany, Italy, etc.). Kiss Me's third single, "Just Like Heaven" went on to be their most successful and critically acclaimed single to date in the US, being their first to enter the Top 40. The song's video was later chosen as the best alternative video of all time by MTV's 120 Minutes. After the album's release, the band embarked on the successful Kiss Tour. In 1988 the band history Ten Imaginary Years was released, and Lol Tolhurst, though he had not yet officially left the band, was replaced by O'Donnell.
In 1989 The Cure released the album Disintegration, which saw a return to the dark imagery of former days; it became their highest charting album in the UK to date, entering at #3 and featuring three Top 30 singles in the UK ("Lullaby", "Lovesong" and "Pictures of You"). Disintegration also reached an impressive #12 on the US charts, where it had a lengthy run, and greatly increased their popularity in America. The first single stateside, "Fascination Street," reached #1 on the American Modern Rock chart, but was quickly overshadowed when its third US single, "Lovesong," reached #2 on the American pop charts (the only Cure single to reach the US Top 10).
Shortly before the release, Tolhurst left permanently, leaving Smith as the only remaining founding member of the group. Because Tolhurst was still on the payroll during the recording of Disintegration, he was credited in the album's liner notes as playing "other instrument," however it has since been revealed that he contributed nothing to the album. The Cure then embarked on the Prayer Tour, which featured some of the band's longest ever shows; their final gig at Wembley Arena on July 24 (announced by Smith as "probably our last show") lasted over three and a half hours.
After playing Glastonbury Festival in June 1990, The Cure resurrected the 'Garden Party' concert which had run throughout the 1970s in the concert bowl at Crystal Palace park, London, on 11 August supported by Lush, James and All About Eve.
In November The Cure released a collection of remixes called Mixed Up. It was panned by critics. Smith has said that he expected this, but decided to release the collection anyway. Since it was released just after a mass audience had discovered the Cure, "Mixed Up" still managed to sell well; it also spun off a modest hit with the one new song on the collection, "Never Enough".
In May of that year, O'Donnell left the band and Thompson suggested long time guitar tech Perry Bamonte as his replacement. "Mixed Up" was followed in 1992 by the album Wish, which became their highest-charting LP of all time, reaching #1 in the UK and #2 in the US and yielded the international hits "High" and "Friday I'm in Love". The Cure also embarked on the "Wish Tour" with Portsmouth's Cranes and released the live albums Show (September 1993) and Paris (October 1993). As a promotional exercise with the Our Price music chain in the UK, a limited edition EP was released consisting of instrumental outtakes from the Wish sessions. Entitled Lost Wishes, the proceeds from the four track cassette tape went to charity. Porl Thompson (guitar) left the band once more during 1993 to play with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, and Bamonte took over as lead guitar. The band then contributed a new song, "Burn", to the soundtrack of "The Crow", the only original song with the Smith-Gallup-Williams-Bamonte lineup, as well as a cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" for a Hendrix tribute album.
During 1994, Lol Tolhurst sued Robert Smith and Fiction Records over royalties payments, also claiming joint ownership of the name "The Cure" with Smith; after a long legal battle Tolhurst eventually lost. Boris Williams (drums) left the band, and was replaced by Jason Cooper (formerly with My Life Story), and Roger O'Donnell rejoined. The Smith-Gallup-Bamonte-Cooper-O'Donnell lineup was one of the longest for The Cure. The first song they wrote was "Dredd Song" for the Judge Dredd movie soundtrack in 1995. There was also a cover of David Bowie's "Young Americans" for a radio compilation.
In 1996 The Cure released Wild Mood Swings. The album was their worst received since 1984's The Top however it sold well throughout the World. The first two singles, "The 13th" and "Mint Car" both fared modestly on the UK singles chart and the US Modern Rock chart, however the next singles, "Gone!" and "Strange Attraction" were not successful. Early in 1996 the Cure played festivals in South America. The Cure did a World tour to support the WMS album.
1997 saw the release of Galore, the follow-up to The Cure's multi-platinum singles collection, Standing on a Beach. Galore contained all of the Cure's singles released between 1987 and 1997, as well as the new single "Wrong Number," which featured longtime David Bowie guitarist Reeves Gabrels. Gabrels also accompanied the Cure on a brief American radio festival tour as an onstage guest guitarist for "Wrong Number."
In 1998 Smith appeared as himself on the animated TV show South Park (Episode 112, Mecha-Streisand) in which Smith stopped Barbra Streisand from destroying the world. At the end of the episode, Kyle said "Disintegration was the best album ever!". The Cure also contributed to the soundtrack album for The X-Files: Fight the Future as well as the Depeche Mode tribute album For the Masses, with their cover of "World in My Eyes."
The Grammy-nominated album Bloodflowers was released in 2000. This album was, according to Smith, the third of a trilogy along with Pornography and Disintegration. The band also embarked on the nine-month Dream Tour, attended by over one million people worldwide. In 2001 The Cure left Fiction and released their Greatest Hits album and DVD, which featured the music videos for a number of classic Cure songs.
In 2002 they continued recording, and also headlined twelve major music festivals, in addition to playing several three-hour concerts during which they performed the albums Pornography, Disintegration and Bloodflowers in their entireties on back-to-back nights at the Tempodrome in Berlin. These performances were released as the Trilogy DVD in 2003.
In the spring of 2003, The Cure signed to Geffen Records. In fall of 2003, pop-punk group blink-182 (also recently signed to Geffen) released what would ultimately be their final album containing the track "All Of This". The track was co-written with Robert Smith, who also provided vocals. The song was planned as the fifth and final single, and was to be released sometime in early 2005. Due to the band announcing its hiatus, the single was never released. M. Night Shyamalan had planned to do a video for the song, which would involve vampires. Robert Smith sings the verse vocals on "All Of This" on the album. Mark Hoppus of blink-182 sang them in most concerts, except when Robert and The Cure were also performing.
In 2004 The Cure released a new four-disc boxed set on Fiction Records titled Join the Dots: B-Sides and Rarities, 1978-2001 (The Fiction Years). The set includes seventy Cure songs, some previously unreleased, and a 76-page full-colour book of photographs, history and quotes, packaged in a hard cover. This album peaked at #106 on the Billboard 200 album charts.
The Cure released their first eponymous album on Geffen Records on June 28, 2004, which was produced by the label's owner, nu-metal guru Ross Robinson. It made a top ten debut on both sides of the Atlantic in July 2004 and debuted in the top 30 in Australia. To promote this album, the band headlined the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on May 2. They also appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
From July 24 to August 29, The Cure headlined the Curiosa concert tour of North America. The concert had two stages, with the headlining bands Interpol, The Rapture, and Mogwai on the main stage and the supporting bands Muse, Cursive, Head Automatica, Thursday, Scarling., The Cooper Temple Clause, and Melissa Auf Der Maur on the second stage. The ten openers which preformed before The Cure were hand-picked by Smith himself.
The group was awarded MTV Icon for 2004. The ceremony included performances of Cure songs by the groups AFI ("Just Like Heaven"), blink-182 ("A Letter to Elise"), Razorlight ("Boys Don't Cry") and the Deftones ("If Only Tonight We Could Sleep"), and was hosted by Marilyn Manson. Smith subsequently included songs by AFI, Blink 182 and the Deftones in his set-list whilst presenting a special John Peel evening session on BBC Radio 1, shortly before Peel's death.
Inspired by Rhino Records' series of Elvis Costello reissues, 2004-2006 has seen the reissue of several of The Cure's early albums, including Three Imaginary Boys (December 2, 2004), Seventeen Seconds, Faith, Pornography (April 26, 2005), The Top, The Head on the Door, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me and The Glove's Blue Sunshine (August 8, 2006). Each is presented as a Deluxe Edition, including a bonus second disc of mostly previously unreleased material, including demos, live performances and album out-takes. All the studio albums up to Bloodflowers were intended to be re-released in 2004, but the record label did not want to release them at the same time as The Cure, and the first batch (1979-1982) was delayed until late 2004/early 2005. The release of the second batch (1983-1987) was then scheduled for June/July 2006, but released in August.
In May 2005, Smith fired Roger O'Donnell and Perry Bamonte from the band, along with Bamonte's brother Daryl, who had been The Cure's tour manager for many years. They reportedly were not informed of such until they saw it featured on a Cure fan-site. The remaining members of the band (Robert Smith, Simon Gallup and Jason Cooper) made a few appearances as a trio before it was announced in June that Porl Thompson would be returning for the band's 2005 summer shows, including their set at Live 8 in Paris on July 2.
Also in 2005, the band (as a trio) recorded a cover of John Lennon's "Love" for Amnesty International's charity album Make Some Noise. It is available for download on the Amnesty website and the album has been scheduled to be released on CD in 2006.
The Cure quartet have been writing and recording new material throughout 2006 and plan to release their thirteenth studio album within the year, which was originally reported to have been scheduled for release on Smith's birthday, April 21st. As of May, Smith said that the band were "hoping for a Halloween release". Despite this date being confirmed in a press release concerning the first batch of releases from Suretone Records, it has been announced by Universal Spain that the album will now be delayed until 2007,with Robert Smith talking of a possible double album.
The group appeared at the Royal Albert Hall on April 1st, on behalf of the Teenage Cancer Trust. It was their only show during the end of summer 2006.
1979 - Three Imaginary Boys
1980 - Seventeen Seconds
1981 - Faith
1982 - Pornography
1984 - The Top
1985 - The Head on the Door
1987 - Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me
1989 - Disintegration
1992 - Wish
1996 - Wild Mood Swings
2000 - Bloodflowers
2004 - The Cure
1984 - Concert
1993 - Show
1993 - Paris
1980 - Boys Don't Cry
1981 - Happily Ever After
1983 - Japanese Whispers
1986 - Standing on a Beach / Staring at the Sea
1990 - Mixed Up
1990 - Integration
1997 - Galore
2001 - Greatest Hits
2004 - Join the Dots: B-Sides and Rarities
1978-2001 (The Fiction Years
2006 - 4play