» The Bauhaus Biography
by Marion Phillips - April 5, 2004
The Bauhaus was one of the best rock bands of the 80s. The bad thing about it, is that it lasted only for 5 years. Even so, those five years have become legend and this band is one of those whose fame seems to grow through time, instead of withering.
The Beginning Of It All?
Everything started in 1978, in Northampton, England, when the guitarist Daniel Ash called an ex-school friend, Peter Murphy. Daniel had already been in several garage bands, and so had his other friends Kevin and David Haskins, and now he was looking for a new start and a new singer.
Soon, Peter and Daniel had composed 4 songs, and when Kevin and David joined them, they formed the Bauhaus - 1919, whose name was based on the German art movement. By the beginning of 1978, they had already recorded a 12" single called "Bela Lugosi's Dead", which would be released in 1979 on the Small Wonder Label.
This song has an atmospheric sound, composed of distorted guitar riffs, a dry beat and Peter's somber voice. It also has a short but evocative lyrics:
"...The virginal brides file past his tomb
Strewn with time's dead flowers
Bereft in deathly bloom
Alone in a darkened room
Bela Logosi's dead
Undead undead undead"
Some even say that the gothic movement started when this song was released...
The Bauhaus' shows were theatrical and powerful in their simplicity. Only white lights lighted the stage, the stage walls were covered in black cloth, videos were shown on the background, and only one strobe was used.
After a show at the Rock Garden in London, they signed with the 4AD label and released 3 singles - "Dark Entries," "Terror Couple Kill Colonel" and "Telegram Sam", before releasing their first album "In The Flat Field".
At the end of 1980, The Bauhaus crossed the Atlantic for the first time, playing through the US for 16 days. In this year, they moved to the label Beggars Banquet and released a new single, "Kick In The Eye", which shows a change in their sound, from the crude to the more dancing.
Their following single, "The Passion Of Lovers", was composed and recorded in the same day, and their next album "Mask", shows a more mature and diverse sound.
By that time, they had been touring constantly throughout UK and Europe, but they were still an underground band, whose singles hardly reached the Top 50, even when they were as good as "Spirit", the next one released by them.
In 1982, after Peter Murphy did a series of ads for the Maxell tape, The Bauhaus was invited to take part in "The Hunger" vampire movie, which features Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie and Susan Sarandon. It was just a small scene, the club sequence, but it showed a little of The Bauhaus' stage act, and it made the song "Bela Lugosi's Dead" famous worldwide.
David Bowie was one of the influences of the band, so after the movie experience, The Bauhaus decided to record one of his most famous songs: "Ziggy Stardust".
This wasn't the only cover they did. The already mentioned "Telegram Sam" is a T.Rex song, "Third Uncle" a Brian Eno's, "Waiting For The Man" a Velvet Underground song that was recorded live, in which Peter makes a duet with one of the band's singer, Nico.
The single that has "Third Uncle" and "Waiting For The Man" gave the band their first Top 20 success and the following album "The Sky's Gone Out", released in 1982, reached nș4 on the charts. The first 30,000 copies of the album had a extra album with live recordings.
In that year, when the band was about to start working on a new album, Peter got ill with pneumonia and was unable to work. The others decided to work without him, composed all the songs and when Peter recovered, he was forced to rewrite the lyrics in order to fit them in the songs (generally the inverse is done). Only 4 songs in the album were worked by all of them.
The single "She's in Parties" was released in 1983, and their last shows were done in Japan and England. At the end of their last show, which was recorded and released some years ago, Peter Murphy said "Rest In Peace" before leaving the stage of the Hammersmith Palais.
The Bauhaus last album "Burning From The Inside", released in that same year, was well received by the critics and had reached the Top 10 when it was officially announced that the band had broken.
As a gift for the fans members of their official fan-club, they released for free 325 copies of the album "The Sanity Assassin", which had all the songs that had been left out of the official release.
Through the years, several bootlegs, collections and live albuns were released, which helped to gather more fans to the band and to keep the old ones.
The band members had several projects in the meantime, like the bands Tones On Tail, Love And Rockets and Peter Murphy's solo career, and sometimes they even worked together in them.
In 1998, there was a short reunion for one show in Los Angeles, which was sold out very quickly. It seemed like the band would re-start their career again, but this didn't happen yet. While they don't decide to finally get together and record new material, what we can do is remember their glory days.
As Peter Murphy said: "If you can't stand Bauhaus, then I suggest you sit down".
For more information
Bauhausmusik.com (official site)
Copyright © 2004 Marion Phillips