Keyboard player and arranger Vince Clarke (born in 1960 in South Woodford, London) had already enjoyed success as a member of Depeche Mode and Yazoo when he decided to undertake a new project in 1985.
His plan was to record an album with 10 different singers, but after auditioning vocalist Andy Bell the duo Erasure was formed.
Erasure broke into the UK chart in 1986 with Sometimes, which reached #2 and was followed by It Doesn’t Have To Be Me in 1987. The following month their second album, The Circus, reached the UK Top 10 and their popularity rapidly grew.
Memorable and infectious hits such as Victim Of Love, Ship Of Fools, A Little Respect, Blue Savannah, Love To Hate You and Breath Of Life established the band as serious rivals to the Pet Shop Boys as the world’s leading vocal/synthesizer duo. Their appeal lay in the unlikely pairing of the flamboyant Bell and the low-profile keyboards wizard and songwriter Clarke.
Their stage shows were spectacular events, whilst the overtly gay Bell’s taste in clothes was outrageously camp. By the late-80s, Erasure could seemingly do no wrong. Indeed, when You Surround Me stalled at *only* #15 in December 1989 it looked like a rare misfire, so relentless was their strike rate.
During the 90s, their singles and album sales continued to increase, with The Innocents, Wild!, Chorus and I Say, I Say, I Say all reaching #1 on the UK album chart.
Their excellent pastiche of ABBA, 1992’s Abba-Esque EP, topped the UK singles chart, although subsequent releases saw a dip in the duo’s popularity, and they took a sabbatical following 1997’s Cowboy before recording the follow-up, Loveboat.
The duo returned to the UK Top 10 in January 2003 with a cover version of Peter Gabriel’s Salisbury Hill, the first single to be released from an album entirely dedicated to interpretations of other artists work.
They are now rightly regarded as national treasures.