By Brian W. Smith
Northampton, 1978. By the end of the year, the post-punk band Bauhaus 1919 will play their first gig on New Year’s Eve, and within 6-weeks record a demo which would yield the band’s first single— Bela Lugosi’s Dead.
In the wake of that successful first single (due in part to a decent run on the UK independent charts and a strong push by legendary DJ John Peel), Peter Murphy, Daniel Ash, and brothers David J. & Kevin Haskins— now formally called Bauhaus signed with 4AD, a label created by Ivo Watts-Russell and Peter Kent designed as a “testing ground” for its parent company Beggar’s Banquet.
After 3 singles and their first full-length LP, In the Flat Field, Bauhaus quickly outgrew 4AD and moved on to the bigger Beggar’s Banquet, where the band’s sound became increasingly experimental. As a band who comfortably dabbled with Punk, Glam, Metal, and Dub they began to utilize a variety of other instruments which would result in their second album, the sophisticated, Mask, in 1981.
As Bauhaus gained in popularity, the next year saw the release of their cover of the David Bowie classic Ziggy Stardust, an appearance on Top of the Pops, and in October of 1978, their 3rd album, the dark and epic The Sky’s Gone Out. The band were at their peak, the album debuted at #4 and they were featured in the opening of the horror movie The Hunger, performing Bela Lugosi’s Dead.
Tensions began within the band after everyone other than Peter were practically edited out of the Hunger sequence, and during recording of their 4th (and final) record, Burning From the Inside, the band decided to continue after Peter caught pneumonia and was unable to contribute much to the album. The fallout proved too much, so after a 3rd appearance on Top of the Pops and short promotional tour, the group disbanded… As he exited the stage of their final show at the Hammersmith Palais on July 5th 1983, David J exclaimed “rest in peace!”
In the aftermath, each member began to further realize some of their own material and new projects with one another— Peter and David J. went on to establish solo careers, and Daniel and Kevin formed Tones on Tail, which eventually went on to become Love & Rockets with the re-addition of David. The band has reunited a few times over the past two decades, including a performance at Coachella where Peter was lowered to the stage, upside down, as the band opened with their classic ode to Lugosi.
Since then, they have (seemingly) parted ways for good, yet continue to perform their classic material around the world. Daniel Ash, Kevin Haskins, and Haskins’ daughter Diva Dompé perform as Poptone, and Peter & David J. will be touring together in 2019 to commemorate their 40th anniversary by performing In the Flat Field in its entirety, as well as several select cuts from their storied past.
Enjoy the following playlist!