Bauhaus invent goth

August 1979: Number 19 in our series of the 50 key events in the history of indie music

A few years ago, former Bauhaus frontman Pete Murphy slammed the phone down on a journalist who kept mentioning the word "goth". If he didn't like the tag, he only had himself to blame. The Northampton band's debut single seemed an improbable template for other bands to follow: a gloomy descending bassline repeating for the best part of 10 minutes, with a drum pattern and a preponderance of echoing effects evidently derived from dub reggae, topped with jaggedly abstract guitar noise. Bela Lugosi's Dead would have been just another piece of post-punk experimentation had it not been for the lyrics, which depicted the funeral of the Dracula star, with bats swooping and virgin brides marching past his coffin. The crowning glory was Murphy's preposterous vocal, which wobbles along the line that separates high drama from "Woo! Behind you!" The effect was so irresistibly theatrical that dozens of bands formed in its wake. So many, in fact, that goth quickly became a very codified musical genre.

Contributor

Alexis Petridis

The GuardianTramp

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