Assuming the depressed, pasty-faced, crystal-meth-snorting goth look and lifestyle is easy for outcast youngsters who've been booted out of Catholic school for writing poems about having sex with elegant corpses. However, it becomes much more difficult to maintain the goth way of life when one has an adult job, a shrieking toddler, or beige upholstery. While today plenty of young nymphomaniacs are discovering anew the pleasures of hanging out in graveyards, smoking opium, and reading Oscar Wilde verses, the majority of goths are now hitting their forties, and the darkness they once reveled in may now elude them. A few key players have managed to grow old gracefully, however: most notably, Bauhaus, the grandpappies of the movement.
There might be no goth night at Disneyland if it weren't for this group of gaunt, pale English chaps who, in their music and vibe, defined the genre. At first considered an offshoot of the glam scene when they formed in 1978, Bauhaus crafted dirgy, morbid tunes about various icky and pretentious subjects. The band's first hit was "Bela Lugosi's Dead," by far its best-known song and the ultimate goth anthem. Follow-up single "Dark Entries" featured jagged punk guitar and singer Peter Murphy howling like a winged beast. Bauhaus also put its own spin on a couple of glam-rock classics -- David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust" and T. Rex's "Telegram Sam" -- crafting slightly darker, more vampire-friendly versions.
Through four mostly successful albums and five years of existence as a band, Bauhaus shaped the gloomy, death-worshipping, somewhat elitist, black-lipsticked goth scene by example. That success has never been quite duplicated.
Of course, there have been other significant, leather-pants-clad descendants -- the Sisters of Mercy and Christian Death, for example -- who added their own take on looking both cool and undead. But there has never been another band that made dark hearts flutter quite like these guys, and as it was with Vincent Van Gogh and other misunderstood artists, Bauhaus became considerably more famous after the band wilted in 1983. Guitarist Daniel Ash, bassist David J, and drummer Kevin Haskins went on to form Love and Rockets, who had a huge modern rock 1989 hit with "So Alive" and joined the Mission UK, the Church, and the Cult in championing a milder, more romantic, almost cheerful goth sound.
Meanwhile, Bauhaus cult idol Peter Murphy pursued a diverse solo career, generally leaving behind the goth movement he birthed. In 1992, Murphy moved to Turkey with his wife, who became artistic director of Modern Dance Turkey. Since then, Pete's music is primarily inspired by Muslim devotional chants and Turkish instrumentation, while his better half's influence has lately compelled him to frolic about the stage, spinning around like a demented swan.
This, incidentally, is progress. Blessed with the baritone voice of the devil and the delicate good looks of a handsome cadaver, Murphy is the ultimate illustration of timelessness, an ideal all maturing goths might strive toward.
After years of by and large avoiding the goth scene, Bauhaus got back together and toured in 1998, thrilling large crowds composed of both fledgling and elderly goths donned in the jet-black hair, Nazi boots, Joan Crawford makeup, and androgynous formal wear the band inspired. Since then, the band reconvenes intermittently, but the 2005 incarnation is a bit higher-profile -- Bauhaus nearly stole the show at this year's Coachella fest, opening its set with Murphy suspended above the crowd upside-down, in a bat suit, singing "Bela Lugosi's Dead." There's a new album in the works, too, set to offer further proof that for goth fogies, Bauhaus remains surprisingly intact and indubitably chic.
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