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26th February 2009
The Cure are an English rock band that formed in Crawley, Sussex in 1976. The band has experienced several lineup changes, with frontman, guitarist and main songwriter Robert Smith known for his iconic wild hair, pale complexion, smudged lipstick and frequently gloomy and introspective lyrics the only constant member.
The members of The Cure were barely out of their teens when they first started releasing music in the late 1970s. Their first album Three Imaginary Boys and early singles placed them as part of the post-punk and New Wave movements that had sprung up in the wake of the punk rock revolution in the United Kingdom. During the early 1980s the band's increasingly dark and tormented music helped form the gothic rock genre.
After the release of 1982's Pornography, the band's future was uncertain and frontman Robert Smith was keen to move past the gloomy reputation his band had cultivated. With the 1982 single "Let's Go to Bed" Smith began to inject more of a pop sensibility into the band's music. The Cure's popularity increased as the decade wore on, especially in the United States, where the songs "Just Like Heaven", "Lovesong" and "Friday I'm in Love" entered the Billboard Top 40 charts. By the start of the 1990s, The Cure were one of the most popular alternative rock bands in the world and have sold an estimated 27 million albums as of 2004.NETQUOTEVAR:1 As of 2007, The Cure have released twelve studio albums and over thirty singles, with a thirteenth album in the works.
The first incarnation of what became The Cure was The Obelisk, a band formed by students at Notre Dame Middle School in Crawley, Sussex. The band made their public debut in a one-off performance in April 1973, and featured Robert Smith (piano), Michael Dempsey (guitar), Laurence "Lol" Tolhurst (percussion), Marc Ceccagno (lead guitar) and Alan Hill on bass guitar.NETQUOTEVAR:2 In January 1976 former Obelisk guitarist Marc Ceccagno formed Malice with Robert Smithnow also on guitarand Michael "Mick" Dempseyswitching to bassalong 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.NETQUOTEVAR:3 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 of 1977.NETQUOTEVAR:4
That year, The Easy Cure won a talent competition with the German label Hansa Records, and received a recording contract. Although the band recorded tracks for the company, none were ever released.NETQUOTEVAR:5 Following disagreements in March of 1978 over the direction the band should take, the contract with Hansa was dissolved. Smith later recalled "We were very young. They just thought they could turn us into a teen group. They actually wanted us to do cover versions and we always refused."NETQUOTEVAR:5 Thompson was dropped from the band that May, and the remaining trio (Smith/Tolhurst/Dempsey) was soon renamed The Cure by Smith.NETQUOTEVAR:6 Later that month the band recorded their first sessions as a trio at Chestnut Studios in Sussex which were distributed as a demo tape to a dozen major record labels.NETQUOTEVAR:7 The demo found its way to Polydor Records scout Chris Parry, who signed The Cure to his newly formed Fiction labeldistributed by Polydorin September 1978.NETQUOTEVAR:8 However, as a stop-gap while Fiction finalised distribution arrangements with Polydor, on December 22, 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.NETQUOTEVAR:9 The band placed a sticker label that denied the racist connotations on the single's 1979 reissue on Fiction. An early NME article on the band wrote that The Cure "are like a breath of fresh suburban air on the capital's smog-ridden pub and club circuit" and noted "With a John Peel session and more extensive London gigging on their immediate agenda, it remains to be seen whether or not The Cure can retain their refreshing joie de vivre."NETQUOTEVAR:10
The Cure released their debut album Three Imaginary Boys in May 1979. Due to the band's inexperience in the studio, Parry and engineer Mike Hedges took control of the recording.NETQUOTEVAR:11 The band particularly Smith were unhappy with their debut, and in a 1987 interview he admitted that "a lot of it was very superficial I didn't even like it at the time. There were criticisms made that it was very lightweight, and I thought they were justified. Even when we'd made it, I wanted to do something that I thought had more substance to it."The band's second single "Boys Don't Cry" was released in June. 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 quit the group.
The Cure's third single "Jumping Someone Else's Train" was released in early October 1979. Soon afterwards, Dempsey was sacked from the band due to his cool reception to material Smith had written for the upcoming album. Dempsey joined the Associates, while Simon Gallup (bass) and Matthieu Hartley (keyboards) from Horley post-punk/New Wave band The Magspies 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 Smith, Tolhurst, Dempsey, Gallup, Hartley and Thompson, with backing vocals from assorted family and friends, and lead vocals provided by their local postman Frankie Bell released a 7 inch single in December under the assumed name of Cult Hero
In the spring of 2003, The Cure signed to Geffen Records. 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. The album peaked at #106 on the Billboard 200 album charts. The band released their twelfth album.
The Cure on Geffen Records in 2004, which was produced by 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. Between July 24 to August 29, The Cure headlined the Curiosa concert tour of North America. The concert had two stages and featured a lineup, including Interpol, The Rapture, and Mogwai on the main stage and the supporting bands such as Muse, Scarling. and Melissa Auf Der Maur on the second stage, hand-picked by Smith himself. While attendances were lower than expected, Curiosa was still one of the more successful American summer festivals of 2004.