Bela Lugosi's Dead

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"Bela Lugosi's Dead"
Bela Lugosi's Dead Cover.jpg
Single by Bauhaus
B-side"Boys"
Released6 August 1979
Recorded26 January 1979
StudioBeck Studios, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, England
GenreGothic rock
Length9:36
LabelSmall Wonder
Songwriter(s)
Bauhaus singles chronology
"Bela Lugosi's Dead"
(1979)
"Dark Entries"
(1980)

"Bela Lugosi's Dead" is a song by the 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]

History[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. It was the first thing they recorded together, six weeks after the band had formed.[3] 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] Alternate versions of "Bela Lugosi's Dead" also included a portion of the early demo recording of their next single, "Dark Entries".

Four additional songs were also recorded during the same session: "Boys"; "Bite My Hip"; "Some Faces" and the ska-reggae tune "Harry", which was about Deborah Harry, the lead singer of Blondie.[4][5] Regarding this session, Kevin Haskins said, "There’s power pop in there, and ska too. We were trying to find our voice."[6]

Of the songs recorded during that session (aside from "Bela Lugosi's Dead") only "Harry" found an official release; in 1982 as a b-side to the single "Kick in the Eye." A version of "Boys" recorded at Beck Studios later in 1979 was used as a b-side to the original release of the "Bela Lugosi's Dead" single.[7] The remaining tracks, including the original recording of "Boys," remained unreleased until 2018 when "The Bela Session" was released on vinyl, CD and made available for digital download by the band.[8]

Content[edit]

The song is over nine minutes long; the vocals start (in the studio version) several minutes into the track. The dub-influenced guitar sound was achieved by using partial barre chords and leaving the top E and B strings open.[9][10][11]

The song takes its name from the horror film star Bela Lugosi, who is known for his role as the title character in the 1931 film Dracula. He had died in 1956; 23 years before the song was written and recorded.

The sleeve cover art was taken from the 1926 film The Sorrows of Satan, directed by D. W. Griffith.[12]

Release[edit]

"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 other releases are included in 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 vinyl with clear plastic sleeve

In 2018 the track was released again on vinyl, CD and digital download as part of "The Bela Session" along with four other recordings made during the same session in early 1979, three of which were unreleased up to that point.[13]

Legacy[edit]

“Bela Lugosi’s Dead” is roundly established by goth historians as the first true record in the genre. For comparison’s sake, goth icons the Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees were certainly releasing records at the same time that Bauhaus delivered its premiere single, but the aforementioned bands didn’t go full-on goth until 1980-81. The song also precedes all the early recognized alt-rock masterworks.

–"Bela Lugosi's Dead": 30 Years of Goth, Gloom, and Post-Post-Punk, PopMatters, October 2009.[14]

"Bela Lugosi's Dead" is considered the harbinger of gothic rock music and has been immensely influential on contemporary goth culture.[15] In an article by The Guardian titled ”Bauhaus invent goth”, the newspaper ranked the song number 19 on their list of the 50 key events in indie music history, stating;

The Northampton band's debut single seemed an improbable template for other bands to follow: a gloomy descending bassline repeating for the best part of 10 minutes, with a drum pattern and a preponderance of echoing effects evidently derived from dub reggae, topped with jaggedly abstract guitar noise. “Bela Lugosi's Dead“ would have been just another piece of post-punk experimentation had it not been for the lyrics, which depicted the funeral of the Dracula star, with bats swooping and virgin brides marching past his coffin. The effect was so irresistibly theatrical that dozens of bands formed in its wake. So many, in fact, that goth quickly became a very codified musical genre.[16]

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,[17] Supernatural and American Horror Story: Hotel.[18] 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 high school students.

Other versions[edit]

Bela Lugosi's Dead (Undead is Forever)[edit]

  • Bauhaus bassist, David J, in collaboration with Jill Tracy, released "Bela Lugosi's Dead (Undead Is Forever)", on 31 October 2013.[19][20]

Cover versions[edit]

Track listing[edit]

Side A
No.TitleLength
1."Bela Lugosi's Dead"9:36
Total length:9:36
Side B
No.TitleLength
2."Boys"3:06
3."Dark Entries (demo)"1:23
Total length:4:29

Personnel[edit]

Bauhaus

References[edit]

  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. Abingdon, England: Routledge. 35 (1): 25–52. doi:10.1080/03007766.2010.537928. ISSN 1740-1712.
  3. ^ “Bauhaus - The Bela Session - “bela Lugosi's Dead" Official Reissue By Leaving Records”. Stonesthrow.com. Retrieved 2 November 2019
  4. ^ "Daniel Ash returns! exclusive interview with former Bauhaus guitarist". Louder Than War. 29 November 2014.
  5. ^ "Bauhaus before Bauhaus - an in depth look on the bands that led to the formation of the iconic band". Louder Than War. 3 September 2017.
  6. ^ “Big Ups: Bauhaus’ Kevin Haskins Dompe and David J Haskins Pick Their Bandcamp Favorites“. Bandcamp.com. Retrieved 2 November 2019
  7. ^ "Bauhaus Archives - Page 4 of 6 - Indigo Eyes: A Peter Murphy Fan Site". Indigo Eyes: A Peter Murphy Fan Site.
  8. ^ "The Bela Session, by Bauhaus". Bandcamp. Retrieved 2019-06-29.
  9. ^ "Bauhaus invent goth | Music". The Guardian. 2014-03-13. Retrieved 2016-10-14.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Perpetua, Matthew (June 24, 2011). "The 15 Greatest Songs About Vampires". Rolling Stone. New York City: Wenner Media LLC. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  12. ^ "BAUHAUS Exhumed—An Interview with Kevin Haskins". Post Punk.com. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  13. ^ "The Bela Session, by Bauhaus". Bandcamp. Retrieved 2019-06-29.
  14. ^ ""Bela Lugosi's Dead": 30 Years of Goth, Gloom, and Post-Post-Punk". PopMatters. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  15. ^ Park, Jennifer (2008). "Melancholy and the Macabre: Gothic Rock and Fashion". In Steele, Valerie; Park, Jennifer (eds.). Gothic: Dark Glamour. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-300-13694-4. LCCN 2008024961. OCLC 216936076. OL 891133W.
  16. ^ "Bauhaus invent goth". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
  17. ^ "Fringe recaps: 'Midnight'". Fox. 28 April 2009. Archived from the original on 2 May 2009.
  18. ^ Woerner, Meredith (October 8, 2015). "'American Horror Story' recap: Lady Gaga makes a great turban-wearing immortal". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California: Tronc. 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.
  19. ^ David J (31 October 2013). "Bela Lugosi's Dead (Undead is Forever) : David J (official)". BandCamp. Archived from the original on 3 November 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  20. ^ David J (30 October 2013). "Bela Lugosi's Dead (Undead is Forever)". YouTube. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  21. ^ "Chris Cornell - 17) Bela Lugosi's dead (Argentina 2007)". Youtube. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  22. ^ Kreps, Daniel (August 27, 2009). "Nine Inch Nails Wave Goodbye to New York With Bauhaus' Murphy". Rolling Stone. New York City: Wenner Media LLC. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  23. ^ "Peter Murphy announces world tour; will only play Bauhaus material". Fact. London, England: The Vinyl Factory. 7 March 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  24. ^ Solarski, Matthew (September 29, 2013). "Live Review: Massive Attack V Adam Curtis at New York's Park Avenue". Consequence of Sound. Chicago, Illinois: Consequence Holdings, LLC. Retrieved April 25, 2014. They played a wide range of covers that tied in to varying degrees with the agitprop documentary taking place onscreen. Some, like The Jesus and Mary Chain's "Just Like Honey" and Bauhaus' "Bela Lugosi's Dead", seemed chosen more for mood.
  25. ^ “Massive Attack are Now Covering Bauhaus’ Bela Lugosi’s Dead on Their Mezzanine Tour”. Post Punk.com. Retrieved 2 November 2019
  26. ^ "Dead Cross - DEAD CROSS". 20 August 2017.
  27. ^ John Gentile (October 29, 2019). "Damned cover Bauhaus, Dave Vanian dresses as Nosferatu at 'Gathering of the Vampires'". Punknews.org. Punknews.org. Retrieved 30 October 2019. Last night the The Damned played the "Gathering of the Vampires," where they tried to host the largest vampire event ever. During the show, the band covered Bauhaus' "Bela Lugosi's dead." Also, singer Dave Vanian was in a dead ringer Nosferatu costume.