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Murphy, Peter

Peter Murphy

Singer, song writer

For the Record

Bauhaus Disbanded

Dalis Car

Breakthrough Album

Selected discography

Sources

Credited with spearheading and personifying the gothic rock movement, the godfather of the genre, Peter Murphy, was responsible for popularizing the goth look with his sharp and angular features, reminiscent of a dark and brooding vampire. His twisted lyrical musings on misanthropy, mythology, and the underworld were to inspire and influence generations of black clad mascara wearers to come. Murphys presence was such a powerful and all consuming force that he immediately became identified as the archetype of the goth movement. This misguided typecasting of his image and music has haunted Murphy from his earliest days in the genre defining band Bauhaus and throughout his solo career.

Murphy was born outside of the English midlands city of Northampton on July 11, 1957. He was the youngest of nine children born to working class and staunchly Catholic parents. His father was a chef and a furnace worker, while his mother was a homemaker. Murphy was exposed to music at a very early age as he told Rolling Stones Moira Mc Cormick. His mother sang to him quite a bit as a small child. They [his mothers songs] were great gigs. She hummed melodies to me which sounded quite morose and lullaby-like. I tend to make my own music with mood and atmosphere; I can see a connection. Although Murphy was an artistically inclined teenager, he turned down the opportunity to go to artcollege because he claimed he was anti-social. Instead, he opted to work as a printers assistant and chose to pursue singing, writing and painting in his free time.

Around 1979, an old school friend of Murphys, guitarist and fellow artist Daniel Ash, got in touch with him and asked him if he would like to join his new band, Bauhaus. The band, whose name was taken from the famous early 20th century German art school, was comprised of Murphy on vocals, Ash on guitar, David J. on bass, and his brother Kevin Haskins on drums. Their first release, the classic Bela Lugosis Dead, was released in 1979 on the independent Small Wonder label. With a hypnotically driving bass line and Murphys seductively sombre vocalization, the single instantly won them a rabidly loyal cult following, particularly enhanced when the single became a surprise dance club hit. The success of the single highlighted the schism in popular opinion between the bands loyal fans and the popular press in Britain, which dogged the band and its many spin-offs from then on. Fans across the globe loved Bauhaus, while critics, most notably the ever fickle British press, loathed them.

Undeterred, Bauhaus pressed on and released their first album, In the Flat Field, on 4AD in 1980. With In the Flat Field, Bauhaus launched a rather lucrative career of putting the undead and its associated imagery to music. Part glam rock and part punk, Bauhaus was wholly its own creation and one that spawned legions of imitators and even some innovators. Promotional clips and live concert dates showcased Murphys love of theatrics.

Bauhaus signed to Beggars Banquet after the release of In the Flat Field. By then, they had amassed a hardcore following that delighted in dressing as dark and stately as their idols. 1981 marked the release of Mask, the first Bauhaus album for their new record company. Mask, like its predecessor, also featured oddly compelling and hypnotic rhythms courtesy of J. and Haskins. Murphys now signature morosely misanthropic and melancholy word play was present as well. A live album, Press the Eject and Give Me the Tape was released the following year as well as Bauhaus third studio album, Skys Gone Out.

By the time Bauhaus was ready to commence work on their fourth studio album, tensions, and inter-band stress were both on the rise. Neither Ash nor Jay was too thrilled with the idea that, increasingly, the image of the band was becoming rather inextricably tied to that of Murphy and vice versa. Also, since both Jay and Ash either wrote or co-wrote all of the bands songs, they felt that they should get their share of the limelight for their efforts. The feelings of Jay and Ash combined with

For the Record

Born July 11, 1957, in Northamptonshire, England; married Beyhan Foulkes, c.1987; children: one son, one daughter.

Joined Bauhaus c. 1978; signed to Small Wonder and released Bela Lugosis Dead, 1979; signed to 4AD and released In the Flat Field, 1980; signed to Beggars Banquet and released Mask, 1981; Skys Gone Out, 1982; Press the Eject and Give Me the Tape, 1982; Burning From the Inside, 1983; The Singles 19811983, 1983; formed Dalis Car and released Waking Hour, 1984; 19791983, 1985; disbanded Dalis Car and pursued a solo career; released Should the World Fail to Fall Apart, 1986; Love Hysteria, 1988; Swing the Heartache, 1989; Deep, 1990; Holy Smoke, 1992; Rest in Peace, 1992; Cascade, 1995.

Addresses: Record company Beggars Banquet, 274 Madison Avenue, Ste. 804, New York, NY 10016.

Murphys rather sudden illness at the start of the sessions for their last studio album, lead to the early demise of Bauhaus.

Bauhaus Disbanded

When Murphy was well enough to return to the studio he was shocked and a bit hurt to find out that the band had proceeded to record most of the tracks for the album without him. Ash, Jay and Haskins had laid down the music for Bauhaus 1983 release Burning From the Inside and had left just a few songs for Murphy to sing. There were a number of tracks on Burning From the Inside that either Ash or Jay sang lead vocals on for the first time. These collaborations between Ash, Haskins, and Jay would eventually lead to the formation of Love and Rockets a few years later.

In 1983 after touring in support of Burning From the Inside, Bauhaus disbanded just as they were on the brink of national success in their native England. Also in 1983, Bauhaus released The Singles 19811983. Posthumously in 1985, Beggars Banquet released the Bauhaus retrospective 19791983 and in 1989 released Swing the Heartache, the BBC Sessions. Three years after this, Nemo released a recording of the last Bauhaus concert entitled Rest in Peace.

Dalis Car

After the demise of Bauhaus, Murphy began collaborations with Mick Karn, who had previously worked as a multi-instrumentalist for the band Japan. Together they formed Dalis Car. The duo released one album in 1984 entitled Waking Hour before they disbanded. After Dalis Car broke up, Murphy began to seriously study the fundamentals of dance with his soon to be wife, Beyhan Foulkes, who was a professional choreographer.

Murphy was forced, out of the need to survive, to form another band. He was very reluctant to do this because of the ever looming shadow of Bauhaus. Eventually, in 1986, he hooked up with a number of studio musicians who were later to be known as the Hundred Men and recorded his debut solo record Should the World Fail to Fall Apart. Hardcore Murphy and Bauhaus fans snatched the new album up but it failed to storm up the charts or to excite the general public. He released his second solo album two years later. Love Hysteria faired a little better than its predecessor in terms of sales due in part to its release in America.

Breakthrough Album

Deep, Murphys third solo release came out in 1990. It was the breakthrough album he had been hoping. Deep sold 350, 000 copies in America alone and contained the number one modern rock song of 1990, Cuts You Up. The surprising success of Cuts You Up propelled the sales of the nearly gold album to the number 41 spot on Billboard s Top 100 Albums chart. Buoyed by the success of Deep, Murphy sought to concentrate his efforts on making it big in America, by touring extensively there.

Two years later saw the release of Holy Smoke, which failed to storm the charts as Deep had done. A move to Turkey and time spent in his new home with his wife and children occupied most of Murphys time for the next three years. In 1995, he released Cascade. The complacency of the album helped it to avoid charting in either the United Kingdom or America.

Murphy continued to focus on his live performances as he informed B-Sides Sandra Garcia, you dont really get that much contact with the fansbut I keep myself in complete focus on the creativity end, of making the show happen and being as vital each night as I was last night. Its the idea of keeping that alive. I think its a celebration thing. If Im transported, then I want them to be a part of whats happening on stage, and thats me.

Selected discography

Should the World Fail to Fall Apart, Beggars Banquet, 1986.

Love Hysteria, Beggars Banquet, 1988.

Deep (includes Cuts You Up), Beggars Banquet, 1990.

Holy Smoke, Beggars Banquet, 1992.

Cascade, Beggars Banquet, 1995.

With Bauhaus

Bela Lugosis Dead, Small Wonder, 1979.

In the Flat Field, 4AD, 1980.

Mask, Beggars Banquet, 1981.

Skys Gone Out, Beggars Banquet, 1982.

Press the Eject and Give Me the Tape, Beggars Banquet, 1982.

Burning From the Inside, Beggars Banquet, 1983.

The Singles 19811983, Beggars Banquet, 1983.

19791983, Beggars Banquet, 1985.

Swing the Heartache, Beggars Banquet, 1989.

Rest in Peace, Nemo, 1992.

With Dalis Car

Waking Hour, Beggars Banquet, 1984.

Sources

Books

Shirley, Ian, Dark Entries: Bauhaus and Beyond, SAF, 1994.

Periodicals

Rolling Stone, May 3, 1990.

On-line

Peter Murphy, http://itis.com/murphy/interviews/bside.html (February 11, 1998).

Peter Murphy, http://members.aol.com/burningski/peter1.htm (March 3, 1998).

Mary Alice Adams

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