Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



UK pop/rock band formed '76 in Crawley, Sussex as Easy Cure. Then lineup: Robert Smith, guitar, songwriter (b 21 April '57); Laurence Tolhurst, drums (switched to keyboards c'82); Michael Dempsey, bass. Shortened name to Cure '78; guested on tour with Siouxsie and the Banshees '79, leading to sporadic collaboration; played in Banshees mould of swirling, gothic UK pop music of late '70s. Albums Three Imaginary Boys '79, 17 Seconds (Simon Gallup on bass) and Boys Don't Cry '80, Faith and Happily Ever After '81; minor chart entries 'A Forest', 'Charlotte Sometimes', 'Let's Go To Bed' '81--2. LP Pornography '82 well received; Japanese Whispers appeared '83, but band put on hold late '82 when Smith joined Banshees; resurfaced with 'Love Cats' (UK no. 7 '83), minor hit 'The Caterpillar' '84. Smith left Banshees mid-'84. Concert: The Cure, Live '84 had hits live; 'In-Between Days' '85 threatened further development. The Head On The Door '85 stayed in US charts 38 weeks (they were a cult favourite there); Standing On A Beach '86 (greatest hits) also charted there; Staring At The Sea -- The Video was a full-length video incl. 17 hits. Tolhurst disclaims arty-rock label: 'I don't think we're a teeny-bop band yet. But I think people give too much importance to something that is entertainment, when all is said and done.' Friendships within band and lack of pretence kept them going; mid-'86 lineup incl. Smith, Tolhurst, Simon Gallup, Porl Thompson, Boris Williams. Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me '87 incl. music from film The Cure In Orange, sold two million around the world; the pressure was getting to them, and Smith fired Tolhurst '89 (he formed band Presence). Disintegration '89 incl. single 'Lullaby'; a band that was formed to make stadium acts obsolete was playing at Wembley, with terrible acoustics and lots of expensive seats; Smith said he kept trying to drive fans away ('Lullaby' had a nightmarish video) but could not escape. Mixed Up '90 was remixes; Assemblage '91 was a boxed set of their back catalogue to that point, 13 CDs plus five picture CD 'singles'. Wish '92 was a big hit, but the tour was unhappy; Smith was ill and Gallup had a breakdown. Live Wish tour Show CD '93 was accompanied by Paris, a '92 concert of early material with half the royalties going to the Red Cross.

Smith wrote a song for the high-tech Sylvester Stallone film Judge Dread '95; he'd planned an album called Bare with a piano and a string quartet, but postponed it and went to India; it became Wild Mood Swings '96, with added Mexican brass, new drummer Jason Cooper and bassist Gallup, well-reviewed but a commercial disappointment: four years since the last Cure album, grunge and Britpop may have put Smith's introspective angst out of fashion. The Cure had been going twenty years and Smith had been married almost that long, though he is only 37; some say the group was made by its videos, but some of them looked like kids noodling in the basement. In England Is Mine '97, Michael Bracewell wrote that English pop basically comes from South London suburbs like Crawley, a bewildering endless sprawl, and that Smith 'moans his lyrics about blood, death and loneliness with all the plaintive weariness of a person whose library books are eternally overdue'. Smith has always been unhip as well as unkempt no matter what he wears; he has no children and says that his younger nieces and nephews are not sure whether he is a grownup. But his place in pop history is secure.