Bauhaus were the founding fathers of Goth-rock, creating a minimalist, gloomy style of post-punk, driven by jagged guitars and cold, metallic synthesizers.
While their following has never really expanded beyond a cult, they kept their cult alive well into the 90s, a full decade after they disbanded.
The group formed in 1978 in Northampton, England. Originally the band was called ‘Bauhaus 1919’ after the German art movement but by 1979 they had dropped the ‘1919’ from their name.
In August 1979, they released their debut single, Bela Lugosi’s Dead on the independent label Small Wonder. Although it did not make the pop charts, it became the de facto Goth anthem, staying in the UK independent charts for years.
Three months later, the group signed with Beggars Banquet subsidiary 4AD and released their second single, Dark Entries. Following their first European tour, the band released their third single, Terror Couple Kill Colonel which became a hit again on the indie charts.
After touring America for the first time in September 1980, the group released a version of Telegram Sam (originally by T. Rex) and a debut album, In The Flat Field, which reached Number 72 on the charts.
The success of the album led to their first chart hits – both Kick In The Eye and The Passion Of Lovers made the Top 60 in 1981.
Their second album, Mask (1981), revealed a more ambitious musical direction, featuring elements of metal and electronic sonic textures. The album was a commercial success and peaked at Number 30 in the UK charts.
In March 1982, Bauhaus released the EP Searching For Satori which reached Number 45 in the UK. Another successful single, Spirit, followed in the summer. That Autumn they had a number 15 hit with their version of the David Bowie classic Ziggy Stardust.
The success of the single propelled their third album, The Sky’s Gone Out, to number 4 in the UK.
Peter Murphy contracted pneumonia at the beginning of 1983, which prevented him from participating in the recording sessions for their fourth album, Burning From The Inside. Consequently the album featured substantial personal contributions from Daniel Ash and David Jay who both pursued more personal and atmospheric directions.
After Murphy recovered, the band toured Japan and then returned to the UK to promote their summer release of Burning From The Inside. The album was another hit, peaking at number 13.
In July, Bauhaus broke up. After the break-up, Murphy formed Dali’s Car with Mick Karn from Japan and then pursued a solo career. Ash continued with Tones On Tail, a project he began in 1981. Kevin Haskins also joined the band.
David Jay made some solo records and briefly joined The Jazz Butchers. Ash, Haskins and Jay formed Love And Rockets in 1985 after a proposed Bauhaus reunion fell apart because Murphy wasn’t interested in the project.
The band did eventually get back together briefly in 1998 but – as Daniel Ash puts it – “ended up arguing about exactly the same shit as we did 15 years before”. Ash, Jay and Haskins all now reside in California, while Peter Murphy moved to Turkey.
David Jay Haskins