40 years after they released their debut album, goth legends The Cure will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on March 29 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Robert Smith—the band’s principal songwriter and only constant member—will accept the honor along with founding members Laurence “Lol” Tolhurst (drums), Michael Dempsey (bass) and key figures like guitarist Porl Thompson, bassist Simon Gallup and drummer Boris Williams. Along with Siouxsie & the Banshees and Bauhaus, The Cure created a look and sound that continues to influence and inspire—the perfect salve for moody malcontents, who enjoy a tincture of melody with their dose of melancholy.
The “punk Beatles’
The founding members of The Cure met as teenagers in Crawley, West Sussex, England in 1973. They were called “Obelisk” at first and played Hendrix and Bowie covers. With the emergence of punk a few years later they became “Malice” and then “Easy Cure,” after a song written by Lol Tolhurst. Guitarist Porl Thompson—a recurring figure in the band’s history—would join and leave, as would a revolving cast of vocalists before Smith emerged as guitarist and frontman of the three-piece that included Lol on drums and Michael Dempsey on bass. The trio released debut single “Killing an Arab” in ’78 and a minimalist post-punk full-length, Three Imaginary Boys, in May 1979.
“Boys Don’t Cry”
Smith didn’t have creative control in the studio in those early days and later disavowed the first album, though it was acclaimed by some reviewers, at the time, and influential British DJ John Peel gave the band their first BBC Radio 1 Session as early as December 1978. Even though the second single “Boys Don’t Cry”—released in June 1979—is still one of their most recognizable tunes, Smith had already decided to move past his early vision of the band as a “punk Beatles” after touring in support of Siouxsie and the Banshees throughout ’79.
“A Forest” (from The Cure’s first ever TV performance, December 1979)
Progenitors of Goth
The tour with the Banshees (Smith filled in as their guitarist for several dates, too) shifted The Cure in a new direction. While second album Seventeen Seconds (1980) still had stripped-down production and a punky approach, follow-ups Faith (1981) and Pornography (1982) featured broodier arrangements and moodier atmospherics. Drums, vocals and, increasingly, synths were awash in reverb, and a perfectly-tweaked chorus pedal gave Smith’s guitar and Simon Gallup’s bass dark and watery tones: a sound that would influence shoegazers to come (combined with the band’s fright wig hairstyles and makeup, would-be goths, too, would be smitten for evermore).
“Cold”— Pornography (Live on Paris Studio Davout, May 4, 1982)
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Melodic and melancholic masterpieces
Synths and drum machines took center stage on 84’s The Top, a transitional work that would lead to an increasingly poppier sound (powered, in part, by new drummer Boris Williams) on subsequent hits in the mid-to-late 80s. Songs like “In Between Days” and “Close To Me” (from 85’s The Head On The Door) and “Just Like Heaven” (from ’87’s Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me) would cement Smith as one of the finest melodic songwriters of his or any other generation. Though he still produced enough melancholic masterpieces (“Lullaby,” “Pictures of You” and “Fascination Street” from 1989s Disintegration) to fill a lonely count’s gloomy Victorian manse, now his songs might also spin at proms, weddings and even MTV’s Summer Beach House. “Egads!” I hear the Goths cry.
“Friday I’m In Love”
An enduring legacy
Smith and the band produced one of their finest works in 1992’s Wish and its single “Friday I’m In Love.” Things started to wane with ’96’s uneven Wild Mood Swings and as the millennium dawned Smith even pondered whether the band’s end might be near. 2000’s Bloodflowers was a return to form, though, and thankfully for their fans—which include artists like Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails and Dresden Dolls—The Cure continues to tour to this day. The current lineup includes longtime bassist Simon Gallup, keyboardist Roger O’Donell, Jason Cooper on drums and former Bowie/ Tin Machine guitarist Reeves Gabrels. This particular fan hopes to see members present and past give an epic performance at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony on March 29th,
Photo Credit: Robert Smith of The Cure performs on stage at Glastonbury Festival, United Kingdom, 1995. (Photo by Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images)