Bauhaus were an English post-punk band, formed in Northampton, England in 1978. The group consisted of Peter Murphy (vocals, occasional instruments), Daniel Ash (guitar), Kevin Haskins (drums) and David J (bass). The band was originally named Bauhaus 1919 in reference to the first operating year of the German art school Bauhaus, although they shortened the name within a year of formation. One of the first gothic rock groups, Bauhaus were known for their dark image and gloomy sound, although they mixed many genres, including dub, glam rock, psychedelia and funk.
Bauhaus broke up in 1983. Peter Murphy began a solo career while Ash and Haskins continued as Tones on Tail and, later, reunited with David J to form Love and Rockets. Both enjoyed greater commercial success in the United States than Bauhaus had, but disappeared from the charts in their homeland. Bauhaus eventually reunited for a 1998 tour and again from 2005 to 2008.
Daniel Ash, his friend David J. Haskins, and Haskins' younger brother Kevin, had played together in various bands since childhood. One of the longer-lived of these was a band called the Craze, which performed a few times around Northampton in 1978. However, The Craze still split up fairly quickly, and Ash once again tried to convince his old school friend Murphy to join him, simply because Ash thought he had the right look for a band. Murphy, who was working in a printing factory, decided to give it a try, despite never having written any lyrics or music. During their first rehearsal, he co-wrote the song "In the Flat Field".
Ash's old bandmate Kevin Haskins joined as the drummer. Ash made a point of not inviting David J, the driving force in their previous bands, because he wanted a band he could control. Instead, Chris Barber was brought in to play bass, and together the four musicians formed the band S.R. However, within a few weeks S.R. had dissolved, and Ash, Murphy and Haskins teamed up with David J. under the new name Bauhaus 1919. David J. had already agreed to tour American airbases with another band, but decided that joining his friends' group was "the right thing to do". With their lineup complete, the unnamed band played their first gig at the Cromwell pub in Wellingborough on New Year's Eve 1978.
The band had chosen the name Bauhaus 1919, a reference to the German Bauhaus art movement of the 1920s, because of its "stylistic implications and associations", according to David J. The band also chose the same typeface used on the Bauhaus college building in Dessau, Germany. Bauhaus associate Graham Bentley said that the group was unlike any Northampton band of the time, most of which played predominantly cover songs. Bentley videotaped a performance by the group, which was sent to several record labels, in the hope of obtaining a contract. This approach was hindered partly because many record companies at the time did not have home video equipment, so the group decided to record a demo.
"Bela Lugosi's Dead" and 4AD
After only six weeks as a band, Bauhaus entered the studio for the first time at Beck Studios in Wellingborough to record a demo. One of the five tracks recorded during the session, "Bela Lugosi's Dead", more than nine minutes long, was released as the group's debut single in August 1979 on Small Wonder Records. The band was listed simply as Bauhaus, with the "1919" abandoned. The single received a positive review in Sounds, and stayed on the British independent charts for two years. The song received crucial airplay on BBC Radio 1 and DJ John Peel's evening show, and Bauhaus were subsequently asked to record a session for Peel's show, which was broadcast on 3 January 1980.
Signing with the 4AD label, the band released two more singles, "Dark Entries" in January 1980 and "Terror Couple Kill Colonel" in June 1980, before issuing their first album In the Flat Field in October 1980. NME described it as "Gothick-Romantick pseudo-decadence". Despite negative reviews, In the Flat Field topped the indie charts, and made headway on the UK Albums Chart, peaking for one week at No. 72. In December 1980 Bauhaus released a cover of "Telegram Sam", a hit by glam rock pioneers T. Rex, as a single.
Beggars Banquet and breakup
Bauhaus' growing success outstripped 4AD's resources, so the band moved to 4AD's parent label, Beggars Banquet Records. Bauhaus released "Kick in the Eye" in March 1981 as its debut release on the label. The single reached No. 59 on the charts. The following single, "The Passion of Lovers", peaked at No. 56 in July 1981. Bauhaus released their second album, Mask, in October 1981. The band employed more keyboards, and a variety of other instruments, to add to the diversity of the record. In an unconventional move, the group shot a video for the album's title track as a promotional tool for the band as a whole, rather than any specific song from the record.
In July 1982 Bauhaus released the single "Spirit", produced by Hugh Jones. It was intended to break into the Top 30, but only reached No. 42. The band was displeased with the single, and re-recorded it later in 1982 for their third album The Sky's Gone Out. In the same year, Bauhaus scored their biggest hit with a cover of David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust", which was recorded during a BBC session. The song reached No. 15 on the British charts, and earned the band an appearance on the television show Top of the Pops. Due to the success of the single, the album also became the band's biggest hit, peaking at No. 4. That same year, Bauhaus made an appearance in the horror film The Hunger, where they performed "Bela Lugosi's Dead" during the opening credits. The final cut of the scene focused on Murphy; this, coupled with the singer's modelling work in a popular ad campaign for Maxell, caused resentment among the rest of the group.
Prior to the recording of their fourth album, Burning from the Inside (1983), Murphy was stricken with pneumonia, which prevented him from contributing much to the album. Ash and David J took the reins, becoming the driving forces behind the record and even performing lead vocals on several tracks. The album's lead single, "She's in Parties", reached No. 26 on the charts and earned Bauhaus their third and final Top of the Pops appearance. Bauhaus then embarked on an international promotional tour for the album, with dates in Europe and the Far East. David J recalled that the night before they were supposed to perform two shows at Hammersmith Palais in London, the group decided to disband.
The band played their farewell show on 5 July 1983 at the Hammersmith Palais; dedicated fans had been warned by the band's crew not to miss the show, without telling them it was the last. After a long encore, consisting of some of their early songs, David J left the stage with the words "rest in peace". Burning from the Inside was released a week later. The album received largely positive reviews and reached No. 13 on the charts. Bauhaus released the single "Sanity Assassin" in limited quantities as a farewell gift for those who joined the group's fan club.
After Bauhaus disbanded, the members of the band moved on to various solo work. Murphy worked briefly with bassist Mick Karn of Japan in the band Dalis Car, before going solo with such albums as 1986's Should the World Fail to Fall Apart, 1988's Love Hysteria and 1989's Deep. Ash had already started Tones on Tail with Bauhaus roadie Glen Campling as a side project in 1981; after Bauhaus broke up, Kevin Haskins joined the group, and the trio released an album and several EPs before breaking up after a 1984 American tour. During this time, David J released two solo albums and collaborated with other musicians, recording two albums with the Jazz Butcher, and also with comics writer/spoken-word artist Alan Moore in the short-lived band the Sinister Ducks.
During a discussion about the state of their projects at the time, Ash and David J began talking about reforming Bauhaus. All four band members arranged a rehearsal, but Murphy failed to show up on the scheduled day. The other three band members rehearsed regardless, and were inspired by the chemistry they had as a trio. As a result, Ash and the Haskins brothers formed Love and Rockets in 1985. Love and Rockets scored a US hit four years later with "So Alive". The band broke up in 1999 after seven albums. Both Ash and David J released solo albums during the Love and Rockets years; Murphy contributed backing vocals to David J's 1992 single "Candy on the Cross".
Bauhaus reunited for the "Resurrection Tour" in 1998, which featured a new song, "The Dog's a Vapour", which was also included in the Heavy Metal 2000 film soundtrack. A live album was recorded during the tour, Gotham, which was released the following year. It included a studio recording of Bauhaus' cover of the Dead Can Dance song "Severance".
Bauhaus reunited again in 2005, playing that year's Coachella Festival in Indio, California. They opened their set with Murphy being lowered upside-down to the stage, singing "Bela Lugosi's Dead". Following Murphy's 2005 tour, Bauhaus embarked on a full tour beginning in North America in autumn 2005, ending in Europe in February 2006. The band also mentioned that they hoped to record new music following the tour. In May the band performed as opening act for Nine Inch Nails on the summer leg of the latter's US tour.
In 2008, Bauhaus released their first new studio album since 1983, Go Away White (Cooking Vinyl). It marked the band's end and the album had no promotional tour. In late 2007, Kevin Haskins said "We were getting along really well, but there was an incident that occurred", and added that as a result, "Some of us just felt that we didn't want to carry on as a working unit". In early 2008, Murphy claimed that he "was most satisfied with the bonding on an emotional level. It was good to be working together and to put the past behind us and it was very positive. The result was coming out really fast, so it was exciting and it was very enjoyable", but in the end, "that rocky character worked and I think it was a bit right to finish it, really". The same year, David J commented on the breakup: "You have a test tube, and you pour in one chemical, and you pour in another chemical, and something happens. It starts to bubble. Pour in another chemical, and it starts to bubble a bit more. You pour in a fourth chemical, and it bubbles really violently, and then explodes. That's my answer".
Bauhaus' influences included punk rock (e.g. Devo, the Stooges and Sex Pistols), glam rock (e.g. David Bowie, T. Rex and Gary Glitter), art rock/experimental music (e.g. Brian Eno, Pere Ubu, Roxy Music, Suicide and the Velvet Underground), krautrock (e.g. Kraftwerk, Can and Neu!), funk (e.g. James Brown, Bobby Byrd, Sly and the Family Stone) and dub reggae (e.g. Lee Scratch Perry, Errol Thompson and King Tubby). Their first album was musically likened to early Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Cramps, while the singing was compared to David Bowie and Jacques Brel. During their 2006 reunion tour, Bauhaus covered Joy Division's "Transmission", one of their contemporary influences.
Bauhaus combined these influences to create a gloomy, earnest and introspective version of post-punk, which appealed to many music fans who felt disillusioned in the wake of punk's collapse. Its crucial elements included Murphy's deep and sonorous voice, Ash's jagged guitar playing and David J's dub-influenced bass. Their sound and gloomy style would eventually come to be known as gothic rock.
Legacy and influence
Although the band were short-lived, their music was influential upon many bands and artists that followed. They had a significant impact on gothic and deathrock artists including Christian Death, Type O Negative and Glenn Danzig. The Mission's Wayne Hussey sang with Murphy on stage in 2013. According to Courtney Love: The Real Story, Kurt Cobain was a "closet deathrocker" and his Bauhaus records were "scratched up".
Bauhaus inspired many industrial rock groups, like Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Nitzer Ebb and Skinny Puppy. The band has been cited as an influence by electronic act Carl Craig, the crust punk band Amebix and the extreme metal band Celtic Frost. Bauhaus were also hailed by several alternative/indie rock groups including Jane's Addiction, Soundgarden, A Neon Rome, AFI, Hole, Interpol, My Chemical Romance, She Wants Revenge, Elliott Smith, the Dresden Dolls, the Flaming Lips and the Horrors. Bauhaus influenced Dead Kennedys frontman Jello Biafra in the writing of that band's 1982 album Plastic Surgery Disasters. Duff McKagan of Guns N' Roses listed the Bauhaus compilation Bauhaus 1979–1983 in his 100 favorite albums list.
The group have been namechecked by several other prominent musicians Steve Albini (of Big Black), Al Jourgensen (of Ministry), Fred Durst (of Limp Bizkit), Jonathan Davis (of Korn), Stuart Braithwaite (of Mogwai), and Stephen Malkmus (of Pavement). Blink-182 namedropped Bauhaus on their song "She's Out of Her Mind" on their California album.
The Bauhaus song "All We Ever Wanted Was Everything" (from the album The Sky's Gone Out) was covered by several artists and bands, including John Frusciante (former guitarist of Red Hot Chili Peppers), MGMT  and Xiu Xiu (who recorded it in 2006 for their Tu Mi Piaci EP). Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins sang T. Rex's "Telegram Sam" and "All We Ever Wanted Was Everything" live on stage with Bauhaus in 1998. Bauhaus' signature song, "Bela Lugosi's Dead", was covered by several acts, including Massive Attack, Trent Reznor and Chris Cornell (former singer of Soundgarden).
Bauhaus's fanbase extends beyond music; the American novelist Chuck Palahniuk was influenced by the Bauhaus song "Bela Lugosi's Dead" when writing his 2005 novel Haunted. In James O'Barr's 1989 comic book The Crow, the facial features of Eric Draven were based on those of Peter Murphy. In Neil Gaiman's series The Sandman, Dream's face and appearance were also based on Murphy. Additionally, comic book writer Alan Moore wrote the sleeve notes of Mask and contributed an anonymous Bauhaus review called, "Phantoms of the Teenage Opera" to the UK music paper Sounds.
- Peter Murphy – vocals, acoustic guitar, keyboard, melodica, congas
- Daniel Ash – electric and acoustic guitars, saxophone, vocals
- Kevin Haskins – drums, percussion, keyboards, piano, backing vocals
- David J (David John Haskins) – electric and acoustic bass guitar, piano, keyboards, percussion, vocals
- Studio albums