Bauhaus (band)

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For other uses, see Bauhaus (disambiguation).
Bauhaus August 2006 UK.jpg
Bauhaus performing live in August 2006.
Background information
Also known as Bauhaus 1919
Origin Northampton, England
Years active 1978–1983, 1998, 2005–2008
Associated acts
Past members Peter Murphy
Daniel Ash
Kevin Haskins
David J

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). Although they dropped the numerical portion within a year of formation, the band was originally named Bauhaus 1919, in reference to the first operating year of the art school Bauhaus. Generally considered the first gothic rock group, Bauhaus were known for their gloomy sound and dark image. Musically however, the band was also quite diverse. Throughout their career, they incorporated a variety of genres, ranging from reggae to art rock.[1]

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 2005–2008.


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 Peter Murphy to join him, simply because Ash thought he had the right look for a band.[2] 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."[3]

Ash's old band mate 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.[4] Instead Chris Barber was brought in to play bass, and together the four musicians formed the band "S.R."[5] However, within a few weeks S.R. had dissolved, and Ash, Murphy, and Haskins teamed up with David J., under the new moniker "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 line-up complete, the unnamed band played their first gig, at the Cromwell pub in Wellingborough on New Year's Eve 1978.[6]

The band chose 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.[7] The band also chose to use 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.[8] 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, or Bentley had to provide it himself, so the group decided to record a demo.[9]

"Bela Lugosi's Dead" and 4AD[edit]

Together for only six weeks, Bauhaus entered the studio for the first time, at Beck Studios in Wellingborough to record a demo.[10] The band recorded five songs; one of the tracks from the session, "Bela Lugosi's Dead," running more than nine minutes, was released as the group's debut single in August 1979, on Small Wonder Records as Bauhaus (the 1919 abandoned).[11][12] 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 was subsequently asked to record a session for Peel's show, which was broadcast on 3 January 1980.[13]

The band released three more singles, "Dark Entries," "Terror Couple Kill Colonel," and "Telegram Sam" -- originally written by glam rock pioneers T. Rex -- before the debut of their first album, In the Flat Field, in 1980 on 4AD. NME described it as "Gothick-Romantick pseudo-decadence".[14] Despite negative reviews, In the Flat Field topped the indie charts, and made headway onto the British pop charts, peaking for one week at number 72.[15]

Beggars Banquet and breakup[edit]

Bauhaus' growing success outstripped 4AD's resources, so the band moved to 4AD's parent label Beggars Banquet Records.[16] Bauhaus released "Kick in the Eye" as its debut release on the label. The single reached number 59 on the charts.[17] The following single, "The Passion of Lovers," peaked at number 56.[18] Bauhaus released its 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, and not any specific song from the record.[19]

Bauhaus followed with the single "Spirit," produced by Hugh Jones, and intended to break into the Top 30. However, "Spirit" only reached number 42. The band was displeased with the single and re-recorded it, for their third album The Sky's Gone Out in 1982.[20] 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 number 15 on the British charts, and earned the band an appearance on the television show Top of the Pops. [21] Thanks to the success of the single, the album also became the band's biggest hit, peaking at number 4.[22] 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.[23]

Prior to the recording of their fourth album, Burning from the Inside (1983), Peter Murphy was stricken with pneumonia, which prevented him from contributing much to the album. Daniel Ash and David J took the reins, became the driving forces behind the record, and even performed lead vocals on a few tracks.[24] The album's lead single, "She's in Parties," reached number 26 on the charts, and earned Bauhaus their third, and final Top of the Pops appearance.[25] Bauhaus then embarked on an international promotional tour for the album, with dates in Europe and the Far East.[26] 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".[26] Burning from the Inside was released a week later. The album received largely positive reviews and reached number 13 on the charts.[27] Bauhaus released the single "Sanity Assassin" in limited quantities as a farewell gift for those who joined the group's fanclub.[28]


After Bauhaus disbanded, the members of the band did various solo work. Peter Murphy worked briefly with bassist Mick Karn of Japan in the band Dalis Car before going solo with such albums as 1988's Love Hysteria and 1989's Deep. Daniel 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 group released an album and several EPs before breaking up following a 1984 American tour.[29] 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 the day it was scheduled. 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.[30] Love and Rockets scored a US hit four years later with "So Alive". The band broke up after seven albums in 1999. Both Daniel Ash and David J released solo albums during the Love and Rockets years; Peter Murphy contributed backing vocals to David J's 1992 single "Candy on the Cross".[citation needed]


Daniel Ash in 2006

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 and included a studio recording of Dead Can Dance-cover "Severance".[citation needed]

Bauhaus reunited again in 2005, playing that year's Coachella Festival, Indio, CA, USA—opening their set, Peter Murphy was lowered upside-down, to the stage, singing "Bela Lugosi's Dead". Following Peter Murphy's 2005 tour, Bauhaus embarked on a full tour beginning in North America and Mexico, in autumn 2005, and ending in Europe in February 2006. The band also mentioned that they hoped to record new music following the tour. In May, the band was the opening slot of Nine Inch Nails on the summer leg of their US tour.[31]

In 2008, Bauhaus released their first new studio album since 1983, Go Away White. It marked the band's end and the album had no promotional tour. In late-2007, drummer Kevin Haskins said: "We were getting along really well, but there was an incident that occurred". As a result, "some of us just felt that we didn't want to carry on as a working unit."[32] In early-2008, Peter 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."[33] The same year, bassist 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."[34]

Musical style[edit]

Vocalist Peter Murphy.
Brixton Academy in London, England, February 3, 2006

Bauhaus' influences included: punk rock (e.g. Devo, The Stooges and Sex Pistols), glam rock (e.g. David Bowie, Gary Glitter and T. Rex), 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).[1][35] During their 2006 reunion tour, Bauhaus covered Joy Division's "Transmission", one of their contemporary influences.[36]

Bauhaus combined these influences to create a gloomy, earnest and introspective version of post-punk[37] which appealed to many music fans who felt disillusioned in the wake of punk's collapse.[38] Its crucial elements included Peter Murphy's deep and sonorous voice, Daniel 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.[39]

Legacy and influence[edit]

Although the band was short-lived, their music was influential upon many bands and artists that followed. They have had an impact on gothic and deathrock groups including: Christian Death,[40] Type O Negative[41] and Glenn Danzig.[42] The Mission's Wayne Hussey sang with Peter Murphy on stage in 2013.[43]

Bauhaus has inspired many industrial rock groups like Marilyn Manson,[44][45] Nine Inch Nails,[46] Nitzer Ebb[47] and Skinny Puppy.[48] The band has been cited as an influence by electronic act Carl Craig.[49] Bauhaus has also been hailed by several alternative/indie rock groups including Jane's Addiction,[50] Soundgarden,[51] A Neon Rome,[52] AFI,[53] Hole,[54] Interpol,[55] My Chemical Romance,[56] She Wants Revenge,[57] Elliott Smith,[58] The Dresden Dolls,[59] The Flaming Lips[60] and The Horrors.[61] According to Courtney Love's not officially authorized biography, Kurt Cobain was a "closet deathrocker" and his Bauhaus' records were "scratched up".[62]

The group have been namechecked by several other front-men and musicians, including: Steve Albini (of Big Black),[63] Ian Curtis (of Joy Division),[64] Jello Biafra of Dead Kennedys[65] Al Jourgensen of Ministry,[66] Fred Durst (of Limp Bizkit),[67] Jonathan Davis (of Korn),[68] Duff McKagan (of Guns N' Roses),[69] Stuart Braithwaite (of Mogwai),[70] Stephen Malkmus (of Pavement)[71] and Jarvis Cocker (of Pulp).[72]

Their song, "All We Ever Wanted Was Everything", was covered by artists and bands, including: John Frusciante (former guitarist of Red Hot Chili Peppers),[73] MGMT [74] and Xiu Xiu. Xiu Xiu 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" (from the album The Sky's Gone Out) live on stage with Bauhaus in 1998.[75] Bauhaus' signature song, "Bela Lugosi's Dead", was covered by several acts, including: Massive Attack,[76] Trent Reznor,[77] and Chris Cornell (former singer of Soundgarden).[78] On 31 October 2013 (Halloween), Bauhaus' David J with Jill Tracy released "Bela Lugosi's Dead (Undead Is Forever)", a cinematic rework of "Bela Lugosi's Dead".

Their fan base extends beyond music: comic book writer Alan Moore wrote on the sleeve notes of Mask, and contributed to an anonymous review on them called "Phantoms of the Teenage Opera" for Sounds.[79][80][81]

Popular culture[edit]

Bauhaus's influence on popular culture is visible. In the Beavis and Butt-head season 3 (1993) episode "Meet God, Part II" they are viewing and commenting on a music video for Bauhaus' David Bowie cover "Ziggy Stardust".[82][83] In the episode "Raisins" of South Park, Henrietta Biggle (one of the "goth kids") had a bedroom poster of "Blauhaus", a parody version of the band.[citation needed] In James O'Barr's comic book, The Crow, the main character, Eric, was heavily based on Peter Murphy when O'Barr saw the band in Berlin, Germany.[84][85] In Neil Gaiman's series The Sandman, Dream's face and appearance is based on Bauhaus frontman Peter Murphy.[86][87] In fact, Gaiman explained that Murphy was the original model for Morpheus.[88] Gaiman also stated that Sandman artist, Dave McKean, based Dream's face in the cover of Sandman #1 on Murphy.[89][90]


  • Peter Murphy – vocals, occasional guitar, other instruments
  • Daniel Ash – guitar, 12-string acoustic guitar, saxophone, vocals
  • Kevin Haskins – drums, congas, keyboard, piano, backing vocals
  • David J (David John Haskins) – bass, acoustic bass guitar, piano, harpsichord, claves, vocals


Main article: Bauhaus discography
Studio albums


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  86. ^ McKean, Dave; Gaiman, Neil (1997). The collected Sandman covers, 1989-1997. Watson-Guptill. p. 1. ISBN 9780823046324. The Sandman image was inspired by 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." 
  87. ^ McCabe, Joseph, ed. (2004). Hanging Out with the Dream King: Conversations with Neil Gaiman and His Collaborators. Quach, Sophia (photographer). 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... 
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