The Cure ph. Andy Vella
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The Cure

It all began in 1976 when 17-year-old Robert, attending St. Wilfrid's Comprehensive high school in Crawley, Sussex, formed The Easy Cure with schoolmates Michael Dempsey (bass), Lol Tolhurst (drums) and local guitar hero Porl Thompson. The four of them began composing and making demos almost immediately, and in no time they were able to put together an impressive repertoire of original music that included classics like "Killing An Arab" and "10.15 Saturday Night". By 1977, the fledgling group won a national band competition organised by Ariola-Hansa, a German-owned label that would have led to the release of a single and a debut album, were it not for the fact that the band's relationship was doomed. Hansa sees The Easy Cure as a fresh, malleable pop band, but even at this young age, the stubborn Robert has other ideas........ Within the course of an unsatisfactory year, the two parties part ways having failed to make any releases. Frustrated but not discouraged, in 1978 the group dropped the word 'Easy' from their name and Porl Thompson from the line-up. As a result, an eager trio, now known simply as The Cure, sent a four track demotape to a number of record labels. They quickly followed up with enthusiastic feedback from Chris Parry, Polydor's art director, and The Cure signed a contract with his new label - Fiction Records - in September of that year. It became a long-lasting partnership, and they are still together today. Work on a first single and album began immediately, with sound engineer, Mike Hedges, and, through a distribution deal with 'Small Wonder Records', the release in December of 'Kool-Aid'. the December release of 'Killing An Arab' is met with great success. The song was re-released on the Fiction label in January 1979, followed by the album 'Three Imaginary Boys', and the strangely captivating mixture of peculiar, obscure imagery and essential, angular music created many controversial reactions. The album starts an intense period of concerts all over Britain. During these gigs The Cure play with other up-and-coming bands such as Wire, Joy Division and The Jam. They release two more singles not included on the album, "Boys Don't Cry" and "Jumping Someone Else's Train", as well as a couple of side projects with "The Obtainers" and "Cult Hero". The single "Boys Don't Cry" is quite successful in the United States, and this causes the album "Three Imaginary Boys" to be re-mastered with the new title "Boys Don't Cry". At the same time, the long-lasting association between The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees begins, as after two dates as a supporter on the Banshees' UK tour at the end of 1979, Robert finds himself playing two gigs a night, having to replace guitarist John McKay who had left the Banshees. At the end of this incredibly turbulent period, subtle but unresolvable differences within the band end with the quiet departure of Michael Dempsey. Simon Gallup (bass) and Matthieu Hartley (keyboards) joined the band and in early 1980 the four-piece Cure committed to two weeks of studio recordings. This time with co-producer Mike Hedges, the band decided to explore the darker side of Robert Smith's compositional talent and the result was the minimalist classic 'Seventeen Seconds'. The first single from this album of extraordinary clarity and grace is the distinctive, almost cinematic "A Forest", which became the first real hit single in the UK, earning them an appearance on "Top Of The Pops". "Seventeen Seconds" reached No. 20 in the UK album charts and The Cure set off on a strenuous world tour of Europe, the USA and Australasia. Unfortunately, the efforts of a hectic year proved too much for Matthie and he was forced to leave the band. A trio again, The Cure recorded "Faith" in the spring of 1981, again co-produced by Mike Hedges. "Faith" is a funereal album, creating atmospheres of a bleak and bare musical landscape and evoking a world of dissolution and fear. The band also finished the instrumental soundtrack for the film 'Carnage Visors' in support of their tour. "Faith" reached No. 14 in the UK album charts and spawned another hit single, the abrasive and insistent "Primary". The Picture Tour that followed was an intense experience for everyone and when the non-album single 'Charlotte Sometimes' was released in October, the band deserved a break. But there's no time for breaks. Instead, in early 1982 The Cure returned to the studio to record a collaborative album with Phil Thornalley, which was to be the culmination of their increasingly morbid fascination with darkness, despair and decay. 'Pornography', released in May, is infected with a ruthless, black nihilism, and ironically becomes the first Cure album to crack the top ten in the album charts in the UK. The 'Fourteen Explicit Moments' tour sees the band become increasingly erratic and violent, and when they release the single 'The Hanging Garden', Simon Gallup leaves the band. Having pushed himself and others around him beyond the limits of excess, Robert realises that he has come to a reckoning and that the only way to distance himself from everything the band has become is to lighten things up. He does this with an imitation of the cheesy disco style of "Let's Go To Bed", and it's an instant, if unexpected, success in the US! The Cure's line-up is still in disarray - the single was recorded with the collaboration of Steve Goulding, drummer of Wreckless Eric, Lol Tolhurst having switched to keyboards - but another key relationship for The Cure is born with the production of the single's promotional video, and the collaboration with Tim Pope is another partnership destined to last. The Cure continued to redefine themselves in 1983 with the rhythmic, electronic dance of 'The Walk' (UK No 12) and the demented cartoon jazz of 'The Lovecats', which became the first single to enter the top ten. Robert feels vindicated: he'd gone through the anger and despair of 'Pornography', and with the release of these 3 tracks, he's been able to make a name for himself. and with the release of these 3 completely different singles, he had effectively turned the tables on other people's perception of the Cure. The year 1983 is divided by Robert's commitments to record and tour with the Banshees. He collaborates on the albums "Hyaena" and "Nocturne", and also completes the album "Blue Sunshine" as "The Glove", an experimental project with the Banshee, Steve Severin. In December the 3 singles of the Cure with their B-sides are released together as the album "Japanese Whispers". In 1984 "The Top" is released and although billed as a Cure album, Robert actually plays all the instruments except the drums. The result is a strangely hallucinogenic mix that slips into the top ten, while the infectiously psychedelic single 'The Caterpillar' enters the Top 20 singles charts. Robert also records Tim Pope's single 'I Want To Be A Tree' at the same time. With the worldwide 'Top Tour' featuring a line-up that includes Andy Anderson on drums, Phil Thornalley on bass and the return of Porl Thompson on guitar, the band now seems up and running. But for a variety of reasons, with the end of the tour both Andy Anderson and Phil Thornalley leave the band. Boris Williams (drums) joins and Simon Gallup (bass) returns as their replacement. This new line-up began work in 1985 with "The Head On The Door" with enthusiasm, zeal and a real sense that something was 'cooking' .........Various and different, and yet inspired by a pop sensibility and simplicity, "THOTD", co-produced with Dave Allen, reached No. 7 in the UK charts. The resonant single "Inbetween Days" is followed by "Close To Me" and another stunning collaboration with Tim Pope that sees the 5 Cure inexplicably trapped in a cupboard, balanced perilously on top of the cliff, Beachy Head, renowned for being a site of numerous suicides! "THOTD" managed to reach #59 on the US Billboard charts, and the world tour in support of the album along with the ever-growing devotion of the fans paved the way for the huge success of the flawless collection "Standing On A Beach". Released in May 1986, with the title taken from the first line of 'Killing An Arab', the album includes all Cure singles and B-sides released up to that point. Accompanied by a video version of the collection "Standing On A Neach", these releases and another huge world tour, including their first time as headliners at the Glastonbury Festival, launched The Cure headlong into true worldwide success. The album entered the Top 50 in the US charts and all of a sudden the American media became fascinated by Robert Smith, one magazine called him "Kate Bush version of a man" and when in a moment of spite Robert cut his famous hair, he made headlines on "MTV News On The Hour"! "Boys Don't Cry was sung, remixed and re-released as a single, and a year of numerous concerts and festivals culminated in August with Tim Pope's live concert film "The Cure In Orange", which was released both as a film and video the following spring. In 1987, The Cure released an excellent and ambitious double album entitled 'Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me'. Lyrically and musically it is the most complete album they have ever made. The greatest strength of the album, again co-produced by Dave Allen, is its extreme diversity and extraordinary variety of styles. The band moves easily from dreamy beauty to nightmarish horrors. They release hit singles such as "Why Can't I Be You?", "Catch", "Just Like Heaven" and "Hot Hot Hot!!!", all accompanied by stunning and even more inventive videos made by Tim Pope. With the arrival of Roger O'Donnell on keyboards, the six-piece line-up of the Cure toured the world on the Kissing Tour from July to December, enjoying enormous success. In 1988, the first decade of the Cure's career is officially documented with the biography "Ten Imaginary Years" - then the band takes a couple of well-deserved months off. Gathering together to prepare new demos, it becomes apparent that Lol Tolhurst's increasingly precarious position becomes untenable and so he inevitably leaves the band. Lol's exit was followed by the 1989 release of the album "Disintegration". A wonderful co-production with Dave Allen, the album is classic, funereal, grandiose, powerful and brooding. It entered the charts at #3. Four singles from the album are hits: "Lullaby" (which won a Brit Award for best video), "Fascination Street", "Lovesong" and "Pictures Of You". The tour that followed - "Prayer Tour" - was truly spectacular with some of the best live performances ever by the Cure and the European stops included, among many memorable concerts, 3 amazing nights at Wembley Arena. In the USA, concerts in sports stadiums (Giants and Dodgers) were sold out. In early 1990 Roger O'Donnell leaves the band and is replaced by road manager and lifelong friend Perry Bamonte. The Cure are headlining at various European festivals, including Glastonbury for the second time. That same year they donate royalties from their live album 'Entreat' to their favourite charities. They released the single 'Never Enough' and released the album 'Mixed Up', a collection of old and new remixes from luminaries such as Mark Saunders and William Orbit. The album also included Paul Oakenfold's remix of the single "Close To Me" and reached No. 13 on the UK charts and No. 14 in the US. In February 1991, The Cure finally took home the "Best British Group" award at the Brit Awards, and celebrated by filming a secret concert in London calling themselves the "Five Imaginary Boys" and presenting four new songs that would later be included on their next album. They also released "Playout", a live video with behind the scenes scenes footage of this secret gig as well as other strange TV performances! "Wish" in 1992 was declared the best Cure album. Once again co-produced by Dave Allen, the album, where the guitar sounds are the protagonists, impresses with its richness and multiplicity of facets. It went straight to No. 1 in the UK charts and No. 2 in the US, and included three wonderful hit singles: "High", "Friday I'm In Love" and "A Letter To Elise". Another fantastic year for The Cure with the kaleidoscopic "Wish Tour" taking the band around the world again, selling out everywhere. The power and emotion generated by the "Wish Tour" concerts inspired two live albums, "Show" and "Paris", both released in 1993. "Show" a double album also released in cinema and home video versions, sees the band on stage in Detroit, USA performing all their hits and more, while "Paris" a limited edition, features the band live in Paris performing a more eclectic selection of songs. Immediately following the tour. Guitarist Porl Thompson leaves the band again (this time in harmony!) and The Cure appear as a four-piece headlining the "Great Xpectations Show" in support of XFM at London's Finsbury Park. The band contributes the song "Burn" to the soundtrack of the film "The Crow", and also does a cover of "Purple Haze" for the Jimi Hendrix tribute album "Stone Free". The recording of new material is delayed in 1994 by a lengthy lawsuit brought by Lol Tolhurst and finally settled in favour of plaintiffs Robert Smith and Fiction Records, and by the unexpected departure of drummer Boris Williams. A period of auditions followed, and very soon Jason Cooper joined the group as the new drummer, while Roger O'Donnell returned on keyboards. In 1995 The Cure contributed to the soundtrack of the film "Judge Dredd" with the song "Dredd Song" and performed a cover of David Bowie's "Young Americans" for XFM. They stop recording with co-producer Steve Lyon to do European festivals, including for the third time - an unprecedented event - the 25th Glastonbury Festival. The band return to the studio (actually actress Jane Seymour's country villa!) to finish the new album in time for Christmas...... In January 1996 The Cure play, again as headliners, at the two Hollywood Rock Festivals in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and return to England for the release of the album "Wild Mood Swings". Although the vast scale and breadth of variety of the album is shocking to many people, it still reaches the top of the world charts! The "Swing Tour", The Cure's biggest tour to date, kicked off, and while the four singles "The 13th", "Mint Car", "Strange Attraction" and "Gone" garnered worldwide acclaim, the band played over 100 amazing concerts worldwide in front of ever more amazing crowds. In January 1997, Robert is invited to David Bowie's 50th birthday party at Madison Square Gardens NYC, and happily performs a couple of songs on stage with his long-time idol. ...... Later that year, an album and video collection called "Galore" is released, featuring all the singles from the Cure's second decade, including the new song "Wrong Number". Other major festivals in the USA and Europe followed, as well as live performances on TV. In early 1998, Robert appears in an episode of the TV series "South Park", records the song "A Sign From God" for the Trey Parker and Matt Stone film "Orgazmo". The Cure also record "World In My Eyes" for the Depeche Mode tribute and "Something More Than This" for the album "X-Files". During the summer, The Cure are guest of honour at 12 other European festivals, play a secret gig in London for the Miller Beer "Blind Date" competition, before returning to Jane Seymour's villa to record a new album with co-production by Paul Corkett (Depeche Mode, Placebo, Nick Cave). In 1999 the band finished recording and mixing the new album "Bloodflowers" at RAK studio in London and Fisher Farm studio in Surrey County. They travelled to New York to film an episode of VH1's "Hard Rock Live" which aired in spring 2000.
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