Bela Lugosi's Dead

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"Bela Lugosi's Dead"
Single by Bauhaus
Released August 1979
Recorded January 26, 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" is a song by English post-punk band Bauhaus. The song was the band's first single, released in August 1979 by record label Small Wonder, and is often considered to be the first gothic rock record.


The single featured the B-side "Boys" and some versions also include a portion of an early demo recording of what would be their next single, "Dark Entries".

The original sleeve art was taken from a still of the film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.[1] The writers listed on the single are David Haskins, Kevin Haskins, Peter Murphy and Daniel Ash.[2]

The song is over nine minutes in length and was recorded "live in the studio" in a single take. David J, the band's bassist, claims on his website to have written the lyrics. The singing does not start (in the studio version) until several minutes into the track. The dub-influenced[3] guitar sound was achieved by using partial barre chords and leaving the top E and B strings open.

The title references horror film star Bela Lugosi (1882–1956), who did much to establish the modern vampire image as the title character in the 1931 film Dracula, and who had been dead for over two decades when the song was written and recorded.

The sleeve cover art shown above is from the D.W. Griffith film The Sorrows of Satan (1926).


"Bela Lugosi's Dead" was recorded during a six-hour session at Beck Studios in Wellingborough on 26 January 1979. Four additional songs were also recorded ("Boys", "Harry", "Bite My Hip" and the unreleased "Some Faces") but not used; only "Harry" surfaced in 1982 as a single B-side to "Kick in the Eye". "Boys" was re-recorded at Beck Studios in 1979. "Bite My Hip" was an early version of "Lagartija Nick".


"Bela Lugosi's Dead" was released in August 1979 by record label Small Wonder. It 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 5 version exists, if you compare runout matrix 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's Lugosi's Dead" is considered the harbinger of gothic rock music and has been immensely influential on contemporary goth culture.[1]

The song was featured in the 1983 Tony Scott cult vampire film The Hunger, with Bauhaus portraying a band in a nightclub, playing it 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 also used in the 1998 Matthew Lillard film The Curve; in the 2007 film Good Luck Chuck, serving as an introduction for a female goth character and appearing on the soundtrack; and in the 2009 horror film The Collector.

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. This song was also used in an episode in the fifth season of Smallville, the vampire-/Halloween-themed "Thirst". The song was featured in an episode ("Midnight") of the science fiction/horror series Fringe, which revolved around a vampire-esque creature.[4][5] The song was played in the opening scene of the Supernatural television series in episode 5 of season 6, "Live Free or Twi-Hard". The episode was vampire-themed, poking particular fun at the Twilight film series and its romanticism of vampires.

Cover versions[edit]

"Bela Lugosi's Dead" has been covered by numerous artists:

On 31 October 2013 (Halloween), David J with Jill Tracy released "Bela Lugosi's Dead (Undead Is Forever)", a cinematic rework of "Bela Lugosi's Dead".

Track listing[edit]

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




  1. ^ a b Park, Jennifer (2008). "Melancholy and the Macabre: Gothic Rock and Fash". In Steele, Valerie; Park, Jennifer. Gothic: Dark Glamour. Yale University Press. p. 117. ISBN 0-300-13694-3. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ AMG Review of Bela Lugosi's Dead
  4. ^ Fringe: "Midnight" Episode Recap
  5. ^ Fringe Television