“Bela Lugosi’s dead, undead, undead…” intoned Peter Murphy on the single that released a new genre – not to mention a fair scattering of bats – into the world.
Like the vampiric film star Bauhaus (pictured below right) eulogized, Goth has never gone quietly into the ground, finding virgin blood to drink wherever the young, pale, alienated and over-imaginative flock together.
Whether dressed in black leather, horror movie-chic, or the pancake makeup and crucifixes of the old school, the iconography and sound of Goth continue to spark the imagination of new generations.
In fact, it is oddly enduring for music so frequently mocked as belonging to pantomime gloom-and-doom merchants skulking about in black lipstick. Ignore the clichés and it is clear to see how Goth’s heterogeneity – a flamboyant mutation of Punk, Glam, New Romantic and plain old rock – ensured its success from the start.
In Britain, its crucible was The Batcave in Soho – a club that encouraged dressing up without the media-friendly posing of the New Romantics. This was a place for those who had heard the nuclear-age transmissions of Siouxsie & The Banshees, Bauhaus, The Cure, Joy Division and Killing Joke while its stage played host to such scene stalwarts as Sex Gang Children, Alien Sex Fiend and Specimen, who ran the joint.
Away from this arty cabaret, however, a second wave was crashing over Leeds, where the stark drum-machine rock of The Sisters Of Mercy, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry and The Mission would ultimately outpace the twisted originators.
It was in California, however, that things got really serious, with Christian Death kicking off a death rock scene that must have made it very hard to dress for the Los Angeles sunshine . . .