Goth’s unlikely tendency to flourish in the world’s sunniest places could be said to start with the debut album, Only Theatre Of Pain (1982), from Los Angeles band Christian Death.
Formed by Rozz Williams (born Roger Alan Painter in 1963) – and featuring Rikk Agnew of hardcore band The Adolescents on guitar – Christian Death were standard bearers for the American death rockers, with songs like Spiritual Cramp and Romeo’s Distress as twisted and overwrought as anything being produced in the UK at the time.
Christian Death earn additional special Goth cred points for the fact that Only Theatre Of Pain was once smashed up on an Evangelical TV show for being ‘satanic’.
Besides Rozz, the line-up was completely different by the second album, Catastrophe Ballet (1984).
The LP also showed a richer, less harsh side to Williams’ vocal stylings, with more influence from David Bowie and Lou Reed. Rather than the occult-oriented lyrics from the first album, the singer showed a new-found interest in Surrealism and the Dada movement.
To describe the history of Christian Death as complex would be a serious understatement. Over the years many members would flow through its ranks and the band would frequently break up, re-form and exist in parallel.
On April Fools Day 1998, Rozz Williams took his own life by hanging himself in his Hollywood apartment.