Bela Lugosi's Dead

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"Bela Lugosi's Dead"
Bela Lugosi's Dead Cover.jpg
Single by Bauhaus
B-side "Boys"
Released 6 August 1979
Recorded 26 January 1979 at Beck Studios in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, England
Genre Gothic rock
Length 9:36
Label Small Wonder
Bauhaus singles chronology
"Bela Lugosi's Dead"
"Dark Entries"
"Bela Lugosi's Dead"
"Dark Entries"

"Bela Lugosi's Dead" is a song by English post-punk band Bauhaus. This song was the band's first single, released on 6 August 1979 by record label Small Wonder.[1]

It is often considered the first gothic rock record.[2]

Writing and recording[edit]

"Bela Lugosi's Dead" was recorded "live in the studio" in a single take during a six-hour session at Beck Studios in Wellingborough on 26 January 1979. Four additional songs were also recorded: "Boys"; "Bite My Hip"; the reggae tune "Harry", which was about the lead singer of Blondie;[3] and "Some Faces".[4] Of these recordings, only two were released. "Harry" surfaced in 1982 as a B-side to the single "Kick in the Eye", while "Boys" served as a B-side to "Bela Lugosi's Dead", and later was re-recorded at Beck Studios in 1979.[5] Alternate versions of "Bela Lugosi's Dead" also included a portion of the early demo recording of their next single, "Dark Entries".

All four band members are credited as writers of the song: vocalist Peter Murphy, guitarist Daniel Ash, drummer Kevin Haskins and bassist David J (as David Haskins). David J has claimed that he wrote the lyrics.[2]


The sleeve cover art was taken from the D. W. Griffith film The Sorrows of Satan (1926).

The song is over nine minutes long; the vocals start (in the studio version) several minutes into the track. The dub-influenced[6][7] guitar sound was achieved by using partial barre chords and leaving the top E and B strings open.

The horror film star Bela Lugosi (1882–1956) in the title did much to establish the modern vampire image through his role as the title character in the 1931 film Dracula. He had died more than 20 years before the song was written and recorded.


"Bela Lugosi's Dead" was released in August 1979, but did not enter the UK charts.

It was released on CD in 1988, and was compiled on the 1998 Bauhaus compilation album Crackle.

The original 12" release was on white vinyl and limited to 5,000 copies. Various re-releases included the following:

  • Black vinyl with black-on-white sleeve (up to five versions exist, based on comparisons of runout matrices on each of the releases and sleeve format)
  • Blue vinyl with blue-on-white sleeve
  • Clear vinyl with brown-on-white sleeve
  • Green transparent vinyl with green-on-white sleeve
  • Pink vinyl with pink-on-white sleeve
  • Purple transparent vinyl with purple-on-white sleeve
  • Glow-in-the-dark picture disk with clear plastic sleeve


"Bela Lugosi's Dead" is considered the harbinger of gothic rock music and has been immensely influential on contemporary goth culture.[8]

In the 1983 horror film The Hunger, Bauhaus performed the song during the opening credits and introduction. A 7″ promotional record featuring an edited version of the song was released to theaters playing the film. The song was featured in numerous other films and TV shows including Smallville, The Curve, Good Luck Chuck, The Collector, Fringe,[9] Supernatural and American Horror Story: Hotel.[10] The song was used as the intro music for the late 1990s Saturday Night Live skit "Goth Talk", which featured Chris Kattan and Molly Shannon as two goth students.

Cover versions[edit]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Bela Lugosi's Dead"
  2. "Boys"
  3. "Dark Entries (Demo)"




  1. ^ "Bauhaus: Bela Lugosi's Dead". iTunes Music. Apple. Archived from the original on 15 September 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Carpenter, Alexander (2012). "The 'Ground Zero' of Goth: Bauhaus, 'Bela Lugosi's Dead' and the Origins of Gothic Rock". Popular Music and Society. Routledge. 35 (1): 25–52. doi:10.1080/03007766.2010.537928. ISSN 1740-1712. (Subscription required (help)). 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Bauhaus invent goth | Music". The Guardian. 2014-03-13. Retrieved 2016-10-14. 
  7. ^ Thompson, Dave. "Review of "Bela Lugosi's Dead"". AllMusic. San Francisco: All Media Guide. Archived from the original on 26 November 2012. From those basics, 'Bela Lugosi's Dead' crackles in on percussion alone, a tapping, rattling rhythm into which a three-note bass line only gradually intrudes itself before Ash's treated guitar slides in, echoed and echoing the most atmospheric dub. 
  8. ^ Park, Jennifer (2008). "Melancholy and the Macabre: Gothic Rock and Fashion". In Steele, Valerie; Park, Jennifer. Gothic: Dark Glamour. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-300-13694-4. LCCN 2008024961. OCLC 216936076. OL 891133W. 
  9. ^ "Fringe recaps: 'Midnight'". Fox. 28 April 2009. Archived from the original on 2 May 2009. 
  10. ^ Woerner, Meredith (8 October 2015). "'American Horror Story' recap: Lady Gaga makes a great turban-wearing immortal". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 8 October 2015. The two troll a goth club dancing to Bauhaus' 'Bela Lugosi's Dead' in search of a meal. 
  11. ^