The first Theatre of Hate release was the single Original Sin in November 1980, which reached #5 on the UK Indie Chart. It was followed by Rebel Without a Brain in April 1981 and Nero in July.
The group garnered much early attention as a live act and made their full-length debut in 1981 with the live album He Who Dares Wins (Live at the Warehouse Leeds), released their own Burning Rome label. Another live recording followed, Live at the Lyceum, issued on cassette.
In August 1981, Theatre of Hate entered the studio with producer Mick Jones of The Clash to record their first non-live album, Westworld, released in February 1982.
The album reached #17 in the UK Albums Chart, and also spawned the Top 40 single Do You Believe in the West World?