Peter Murphy (musician)

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Peter Murphy
Peter Murphy in Chicago, 2011
Background information
Birth name Peter John Joseph Murphy
Born (1957-07-11) 11 July 1957 (age 57)
Northampton, England
Genres Alternative rock, gothic rock, post-punk, experimental, world
Instruments Vocals, guitar, keyboards, melodica, percussion
Years active 1978–present
Labels Beggars Banquet, Nettwerk
Associated acts Bauhaus, Dalis Car, Trent Reznor, The Hundred Men

Peter John Joseph Murphy (born 11 July 1957) is an English rock vocalist. He was the vocalist of the rock group Bauhaus, and later went on to release a number of solo albums, such as Deep and Love Hysteria. Thin, with prominent cheekbones, a baritone voice, and a penchant for gloomy poetics, Murphy is often called the "Godfather of Goth."[1][2]

Early life and Bauhaus[edit]

Murphy was born near Northampton, England, and raised in Wellingborough, England. Murphy was a school friend of Daniel Ash, who convinced Murphy to join Bauhaus (one of the establishing acts of the goth movement).[citation needed] Their use of spacey recording effects and theatrical aesthetics was evocative of glam rock; they became an influential group in the early days of gothic rock.[citation needed]

In 1983, Bauhaus appeared during the opening sequences of the horror film The Hunger, performing one of their most popular songs, "Bela Lugosi's Dead". The camera focused almost exclusively on Murphy during most of the scene, panning only briefly to the stars David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve.

Bauhaus reformed in 1998 for a tour.

Solo career[edit]


By 1983, Bauhaus had broken up and Murphy went on to new projects not involving Bauhaus members Kevin Haskins, David J or Daniel Ash. After some brief dabbling with acting and dance – including a slightly odd televised performance to Bauhaus's "Hollow Hills" – he formed Dalis Car with Mick Karn, the bass player from Japan. The group recorded only one album.

Peter Murphy in San Francisco, 1987

Murphy's solo career over time became more varied than Bauhaus, ranging from pseudo-pop to haunting ballads that showcased his deep and complex vocals, with lyrical themes that are often metaphysical or religious.[citation needed] His knack for such lyricism and the occasional pop-reinvention caused some initial trepidation in the record-buying public.[citation needed] After Dalis Car's lack of commercial success, Murphy's first solo album was similarly overlooked. Should the World Fail to Fall Apart did spawn several singles, including a cover of Pere Ubu's "Final Solution" that made a minor splash on the club scene.

The followup, Love Hysteria, was not successful in UK although in the US it performed better than his previous solo releases. The albums also marked the beginning of a long-term collaboration with songwriter Paul Statham, who co-wrote songs with Murphy until 1995. The resulting singles "All Night Long" and "Indigo Eyes" helped garner a wider following, and the black-and-white video for "All Night Long" entered rotation on MTV.

The pinnacle of Murphy's solo popularity in the US came with the release of Deep. For this album Murphy sported hair dyed platinum blonde and returned to the more aggressive alt-rock sound that was a trademark of early Bauhaus.[citation needed] The single "Cuts You Up" from Deep held on to the top spot on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart for longer than any previously released single, displacing "So Alive" by his former Bauhaus-bandmates Love and Rockets. The record was unbroken until the release of REM's "Losing My Religion".


Although he had grown up in an Irish Catholic family, Murphy gravitated to Sufism in the 1990s. There were reports he had converted to Islam but he clarified in USA Today, "There was no conversion, just a recognition that it was the same message, only clearer. You don't convert, you discover an aspect of surrender, which is what Islam means."[3] He eventually moved to Turkey with his wife, and a Middle Eastern influence can be heard in his later albums.[4] In particular, Murphy has been inspired by the mysticism of Sufism and G.I. Gurdjieff. 1992's Holy Smoke mixed some traditional Turkish influences into the music while continuing the sound pioneered on Deep. The album was unable to recapture the momentum of Deep, and in the post-grunge alternative landscape[clarification needed], the more pop-flavoured album seemed anachronistic.[according to whom?][POV? ]

In 1995, Murphy embraced a lower-key, ambient pop sound for Cascade, featuring producer Pascal Gabriel, guest work from "infinite guitarist" Michael Brook, and overall a much stronger incorporation of electronics. This album was also to be his last major collaboration with Paul Statham, who departed to form Peach with Pascal Gabriel and eventually write songs for Dido and Kylie Minogue. Cascade was also Murphy's last original release for Beggar's Banquet records, which had been his label since Bauhaus. Shortly after this departure, Murphy recorded the Recall EP for the newly formed Red Ant records, featuring a few new songs and some new, heavily electronic versions of older material, reworked in conjunction with Sascha Konietzko, Bill Rieflin and Tim Skold of the band KMFDM. Once again, he became label-mates with former Bauhaus alums Love and Rockets, who had also signed to Red Ant. This generated a significant number of rumours regarding a possible reformation of Bauhaus. While Red Ant quickly folded, Bauhaus did reform in 1998 for the Resurrection tour, one performance of which (at the Hammerstein Ballroom, New York City) was recorded and released on DVD by Metropolis Records as Gotham. The tour was a success.


In 2000, Murphy performed his international Just for Love tour, which resulted in the album aLive Just for Love. It is a live recording of the fully uninterrupted set from the El Rey show in Los Angeles on 30 November 2000. During the tour, Murphy chose to perform with only two back-up musicians, Canadian electric violinist Hugh Marsh and Peter DiStefano from Porno for Pyros on guitar, although former Bauhaus bassist David J sometimes joined the trio for an encore. At this point he also contributed to works by film composer Harry Gregson-Williams.

Also in 2000, Murphy gave a nod to the North American goth scene, where his solo works and his works with Bauhaus are still popular, by making a surprise guest appearance at the sixth annual Convergence festival in Seattle, to perform a low-key, acoustic solo set.

Shortly thereafter, Murphy collaborated with the Turkish artist Mercan Dede on the album Dust. Heavily steeped in traditional Turkish instrumentation and songwriting, coupled with Dede's trademark atmospheric electronics, the album showed Murphy all but abandoning his previous pop and rock incarnations. Dust, released on goth/industrial stalwart label Metropolis Records, alienated many fans who had expected a more uptempo Murphy album (especially post-Recall), but it garnered some critical praise. Peter Murphy considers it his most unique work to date and is most proud of the song "Your Face" from the album.[5]

In 2004, Murphy signed to yet another new label, Viastar, which was home to several other 1980s pop artists who had moved into more eclectic areas. Despite numerous problems with the label, the album Unshattered was released, showcasing Murphy returning to a more pop sound.

Murphy undertook extensive tours of Europe and the US to promote 'Unshattered' in 2005, with a live band featuring guitarist Mark Thwaite of The Mission and Tricky on guitar, Jeff Schwartoff of Human Waste Project and Professional Murder Music on bass and Justin Bennett of Skinny Puppy on drums. Murphy and the band reconvened in November 2007 for shows in Portugal and Spain, with Nick Lucero replacing Bennett on drums. In May 2008 Murphy recorded a cover of the song "Warm Leatherette" with Trent Reznor and Jeordie White from Nine Inch Nails. This was played live at an intimate studio performance, and the video recording was released on both the official Nine Inch Nails website and on YouTube.

On a blog posted on MySpace, Murphy announced he is at work on a new studio album to be released in 2009. The album may feature production from Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and feature Murphy's version of the track "Warm Leatherette," which they have been performing live together. Murphy has also expressed interest in taking his tour down to Australia once the new album is released.

In 2009 Murphy appeared at shows across the United States with Reznor, and the band members Reznor had for the 'Lights in the Sky Over North America 2008' tour. He also appeared with Nine Inch Nails on in August 2009 at Terminal 5 as special guest musician. Additionally, he appeared with Nine Inch Nails on 28 and 29 August at the Aragon Ballroom.

Throughout 2009, Murphy released a series of cover songs exclusively through iTunes. The released songs are "Instant Karma!" (originally by John Lennon), "Space Oddity" (originally by David Bowie), "Transmission" (originally by Joy Division), and "Hurt" (originally by Nine Inch Nails). In support of these releases, Murphy underwent an international tour entitled "The Secret Covers Tour". During this time, an additional cover song, Soul of the World, was released through his official website.[6]


The spring of 2010 saw the cancellation of what would have been a 100-date world tour with Brendan Perry of Dead Can Dance. Murphy cancelled due to unexplained health issues, which yielded negative reactions from Perry.[7]

In 2010, Murphy made a cameo appearance in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse as "The Cold One".[8] He also collaborated with Sarah Fimm and Leigh Nash on a song called "Crumbs and Broken Shells".[9] In the summer of 2010, Murphy began his "Dirty Dirt Tour" in promotion of his studio album Ninth.

In August 2010, on a video blog on his MySpace page Murphy announced that he was once again going to be working with Mick Karn on a second Dali's Car album, adding this would be the first time they had seen each other since 1983. Several months prior to this announcement, Karn had been diagnosed with stage-4 cancer. The recording session took place in September 2010; however, because of Karn's increasingly severe illness, they only managed to record four songs during the session. Karn succumbed to his illness 4 January 2011. According to the biography on Karn's website, the four songs the duo recorded will be released as an EP later in 2011.[10]

In February 2011 Murphy announced a 29-date tour across North America to support his upcoming album Ninth, released in June 2011.[11] Murphy released the song "I Spit Roses" as a digital single through online retailers in March 2011, as well as single "Seesaw Sway" that May.[12][13]

Starting in April 2013 Murphy toured Europe and the U.S. on the Mr Moonlight Tour, celebrating 35 years of Bauhaus, with longtime guitarist Mark Thwaite, drummer Nick Lucero and bassist Emilio DiZefalo-China. He later replaced guitarist Mark Thwaite (who left the band in September 2013) with Andee Blacksugar in October, who finished out the remaining tour dates in China, Russia, Australia and New Zealand.

In June 2014, Murphy released his 10th studio album Lion and has also announced the imminent release of a live DVD and 10" EP of his recent "Mr Moonlight" tour, which can be pre-ordered via Pledge Music. A viral video of the first single off Lion entitled "Hang Up" was recently released. Murphy has also just announced extensive touring plans across North America in support of the new album.

Personal life[edit]

Murphy has lived in Turkey for the last 20 years.[14] He has two children, Hurihan and Adem, with his wife, Beyhan Murphy.

On 16 March 2013, Murphy was charged with misdemeanor DUI, hit-and-run driving and methamphetamine possession, in Los Angeles, California, USA. His attorney pleaded not guilty on his behalf. He was due back in court on 17 May 2013.[15] On Monday 14 October 2013, it was reported Peter Murphy has been sentenced to 3 years of probation plus 10 days of community service for a hit-and-run incident in March 2013.[16]

Popular culture[edit]

  • In Neil Gaiman's series The Sandman, Dream's face and appearance is based on Murphy.[17][18] In fact, Gaiman explained that Murphy was the original model for Morpheus.[19] Gaiman also stated that Sandman artist, Dave McKean, based Dream's face in the cover of Sandman No. 1 on Murphy.[20][21]
  • In the advertisements for Maxell audio cassettes, the "Blown Away Guy" model for the UK advertising campaign was musician Peter Murphy.


Studio albums[edit]

Live albums[edit]

  • A Live Just for Love (2001)


Singles and EPs[edit]

Year Title Chart positions Album
US Hot 100 US Modern Rock US Mainstream Rock UK Singles Chart
1985 "Final Solution" 92 Should the World Fail to Fall Apart
1986 "Blue Heart"
"Tale of the Tongue"
1988 "All Night Long" 100 Love Hysteria
"Blind Sublime"
"Indigo Eyes" 95
1989 "The Line Between the Devil's Teeth (And That Which Cannot Be Repeat)" 18 Deep
1990 "Cuts You Up" 55 1 10
"A Strange Kind of Love" 21
1992 "The Sweetest Drop" 2 Holy Smoke
"You're So Close" 18
"Hit Song"
1995 "The Scarlet Thing in You" Cascade
"I'll Fall with Your Knife" (promo only)
1997 Recall EP Non-album EP
2011 "I Spit Roses" Ninth
"Seesaw Sway"
2014 "Hang Up" Lion


  1. ^ Gill, Andy (16 August 2002). "Album: Peter Murphy". The Independent (London: Independent News & Media). Retrieved 7 November 2008. 
  2. ^ Theiner, Manny (19 June 2008). "Music Preview: Bauhaus frontman Peter Murphy tours with solo retrospective". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PG Publishing Co). Retrieved 7 November 2008. 
  3. ^ "Transcript of a chat with Murphy". USA Today. 21 January 2005. Retrieved 27 October 2010. 
  4. ^ "Peter Murphy Interview". 16 June 2002. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  5. ^ "Interview with Peter Murphy about Bauhaus, "Go Away White" and his solo career, February 2008". 25 February 2008. Retrieved 27 October 2010. 
  6. ^ "Peter Murphy – Secret Cover Tour". Retrieved 27 October 2010. 
  7. ^ "Dead Can Dance's Brendan Perry slams Peter Murphy: ‘He’s a sandwich short of a picnic’". 5 May 2010. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  8. ^ "The Official Site of Peter Murphy". Retrieved 27 October 2010. 
  9. ^ "Crumbs and Broken Shells- Sarah Fimm ft. Leigh Nash and Peter Murphy by Songs for Haiti". Retrieved 27 October 2010. 
  10. ^ [1][dead link]
  11. ^ "Peter Murphy Official Site". 3 June 2014. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  12. ^ "I Spit Roses – Single by Peter Murphy". 22 March 2011. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  13. ^ "Seesaw Sway – Single by Peter Murphy". 23 May 2011. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  14. ^ DAVID BRINN  (15 July 2010). "A role to sink his teeth into Jerusalem Post 15 July 2010". Retrieved 27 October 2010. 
  15. ^ "L.A. Now". Los Angeles Times. 19 March 2013. 
  16. ^ "Peter Murphy (Bauhaus) sentenced to 3 years of probation for hit-and-run". 22 February 1999. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  17. ^ Dave McKean, Neil Gaiman (1997). The collected Sandman covers, 1989–1997. Watson-Guptill. p. 1. ISBN 9780823046324. The Sandman image was inspired hy Peter Murphy, the ex-Bauhaus singer and Maxell tape model, because when artist Mike Dringenberg saw the original sketches for the character, he said: "He looks like Peter Murphy from Bauhaus." 
  18. ^ Kelly Jones (2004). Joseph McCabe, ed. Hanging out with the dream king: conversations with Neil Gaiman and his collaborators. Fantagraphics. p. 92. ISBN 9781560976172. ['Sandman' artist Kelly Jones talks about the inspiration behind Dream's appearance] I know Neil always said [the Sandman] was based on Robert Smith of the Cure, but I just hated the Cure. I didn't want to hear that. I was really into Peter Murphy at that time, the guy from Bauhaus. I didn't like Bauhaus, but I liked him on his own, and he had a song called "Cut You Up" or something; it was on the radio at the time. I bought the CD, and I said, 'You know, with that big poufy hair, he looks like that guy.' At that time, Murphy was very gestural. I don't think the guy ever had a picture taken of him that wasn't angled and in deep lighting. So I took that, too. I said, 'Whenever I do him, I'm gonna do that kind of thing. And get into his face, don't just keep him in deep shadow all the time. He will be in deep shadow all the time, but I want to put across a guy who's clueless. Not stupid, but he's not understanding things.' Because he's an immortal guy who... 
  19. ^ Neil Gaiman (16 February 2013). "The official Neil Gaiman Tumblr". Tumblr. Retrieved 10 July 2013. The original idea-model for Morpheus was Peter Murphy from Bauhaus. 
  20. ^ Neil Gaiman. "Neil Gaiman – FAQ – Comics". Retrieved 22 September 2012. If I remember correctly Dave based the face on the cover of Sandman No. 1 on an image of Peter Murphy. 
  21. ^ Gavin Baddeley, Paul A. Woods (2006). Paul A. Woods, ed. Goth chic: a connoisseur's guide to dark culture (2 ed.). Plexus. p. 1941. ISBN 9780859653824. Sandman inker Mike Dringenberg observed, '"Hey, [he] looks like Peter Murphy from Bauhaus.'" Cover artist Dave McKean and Gaiman 'got some Bauhaus videos and immediately saw that Mike was right; and Dave ended up making the central image on the cover of Sandman [number one] a Peter Murphy-like face. 
  22. ^ Evans Smith, Nathan Brown (2008). "22: Comparative Mythology in Pop Culture". The Complete Idiot's Guide to World Mythology. Penguin. p. 287. ISBN 9781436268103. The physical appearance of Eric Draven was based heavily on the face of Peter Murphy of the band Bauhaus, who O'Barr also saw while in Germany, and the body of rock icon Iggy Pop. 
  23. ^ Mark Voger (2006). "As the Crow Flies". The Dark Age. TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 51. ISBN 9781893905535. Q: How did the Crow character of Eric come to you? O'Barr: Basically, I was just playing around with the makeup on the face. I was in England. On the side of a building was painted the three faces of the English theater, which were Pain, Irony and Despair. The smiling face was Irony. So that's basically where the makeup came from. Physically, Eric is kind of a mixture of Iggy Pop and Peter Murphy. 

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