Ian Astbury

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Ian Astbury
Ian Astbury press photo, October 2010
Background information
Birth nameIan Robert Astbury
Born (1962-05-14) 14 May 1962 (age 57)
Heswall, Merseyside, England, United Kingdom
GenresPost-punk, gothic rock, hard rock, heavy metal, alternative rock[1]
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, percussion, harmonica, guitar
Years active1981–present
LabelsBeggars Banquet
Associated actsThe Cult, Southern Death Cult, Death Cult, the Doors of the 21st Century, Holy Barbarians, Circus of Power, the Wondergirls, Slash, Boris, Unkle

Ian Robert Astbury[2][3] (born 14 May 1962) is an English singer and songwriter. He is best known as a founding member and lead vocalist for the rock band the Cult.[4]


Astbury's family moved to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, from the UK in 1973 when he was 11. He attended Glendale Secondary School. Astbury's early musical influences took root in Hamilton where he became an early fan of David Bowie, Iggy Pop and the New York Dolls. But he did not start performing until after his return to the UK.[5]

In 1979, while living in Glasgow, Astbury was influenced by the Doors' song "The End", which he heard while watching the movie Apocalypse Now, later describing this as "a religious experience".[6] In 1980, he was in Liverpool, where he was active on the punk scene based around Eric's Club. He moved to Bradford in late 1980, where he was a founder member of the post-punk band Southern Death Cult in 1981. Southern Death Cult lasted until March 1983. Along with guitarist Billy Duffy, bassist Jamie Stewart and drummer Raymond Taylor Smith, Astbury formed a new band, Death Cult and released the Death Cult EP. To gain broader appeal, the band changed its name to "The Cult" in January 1984 before appearing on the Channel 4 television show, The Tube.

The Cult are a postmodern rock band, active since 1983. Their first album, Dreamtime was released in 1984, and followed by Love in 1985. Love featured the single "She Sells Sanctuary", which introduced the band to an international audience. Many songs of these early albums focus on Native American themes, a pre-occupation of Astbury. On their third album, Electric, the Cult made a transformation to hard rock sound with the help of Rick Rubin.

After the release of the 1989 album Sonic Temple, and the single "Fire Woman", Astbury relocated to Los Angeles, California.


In 1994, The Cult returned with an untitled album and a change of musical pace. Their hard rock sound was gone, replaced instead by Astbury's growing interest in alternative music, fashion and introspective lyrics. Although two singles ("Coming Down" and "Star") were released, the album was not a commercial success. To support the album they set out on a tour; in Brazil, however, Astbury's creative differences with guitarist Duffy reached their peak, and the former walked out on The Cult.

Astbury soon after assembled another group of musicians and began writing new songs. He called the group The Holy Barbarians, and in 1996 the band released the album Cream, which was not a commercial success. The band appeared at the small Tunbridge Wells Forum which saw them being joined onstage by Vic Reeves for a rendition of "Wildflower".

Personal difficulties and a drive for further introspection drove Astbury away from his new group, as he began working on a solo album (eventually released as Spirit\Light\Speed).

In 1999, Astbury and Duffy reformed The Cult. A new contract with Atlantic Records was signed, and in 2001 Beyond Good and Evil was released. The band enjoyed radio success initially with the single "Rise", until the band had a falling out with Atlantic and they ended all commercial promotions and radio play for the album. Astbury described the fight with the record label as "soul destroying"; disillusioned, he brought The Cult to another hiatus in 2002.[citation needed]

2000s and beyond[edit]

Astbury became lead singer of The Doors of the 21st Century in 2002. The group featured original Doors members Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek.[7][8] In 2003, Astbury also performed with surviving members of MC5 at the 100 Club in London, before finally reforming The Cult with Duffy again in 2006, for a series of live dates.[citation needed] In October 2007, The Cult released Born into This. The first single was "Dirty Little Rockstar".[citation needed]In 2009, The Cult announced a series of shows across Canada, the US, and various countries in Europe. It was billed as "'Love' Live", where the band performed its classic album, "Love," in its entirety.[citation needed]

On 29 May 2010 Boris performed "The End" with Ian Astbury at Vivid Festival on Sydney.[9] Boris and Astbury released a four-song EP in September 2010 on Southern Lord and Daymare Records, containing four tracks entitled Teeth and Claws, We are Witches, Rain (The Cult cover), Magickal Child.[10][11][12]

Astbury lives in Los Angeles and plays on the football team Hollywood United with Billy Duffy and Steve Jones of The Sex Pistols and is a supporter of English Premier League club Everton FC.[citation needed]

On 26 May 2012, Astbury married The Black Ryder singer/guitarist Aimee Nash in Las Vegas.[13]

Other musical ventures[edit]

Astbury is featured on the UNKLE tracks "Burn My Shadow", "When Things Explode" and "Forever." He also sings "Flame On" on Tony Iommi's (Black Sabbath lead guitarist) solo album Iommi, and recorded a duet with Deborah Harry on her 1989 album Def, Dumb and Blonde's song "Lovelight". In 2010, he provided the vocals for the song "Ghost" on guitarist Slash's self-titled solo album. The track also featured former Guns N' Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin on rhythm guitar. Astbury is also credited for playing the drums on a track called "Gasp" by Japanese Cartoon.[citation needed]


The Cult[edit]

Holy Barbarians[edit]


Guest appearances[edit]


  1. ^ "Ian Astbury - Biography, Albums, Streaming Links - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  2. ^ Olson, Steve. "Ian Astbury / The Cult". Juice (63). Retrieved 29 May 2011.
  3. ^ Cult Biography, Camelot Music 1988
  4. ^ "The Cult | View the Music Artists Biography Online | VH1.com". Retrieved 3 April 2010.
  5. ^ Graham Rockingham (10 June 2016). "Interview: Ian Astbury of The Cult and Hamilton". The Hamilton Spectator. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  6. ^ C.B.Liddell (9 May 2010). "Y'know – interviews with the famous: Ian Astbury, musician". Yknow-interviews.blogspot.com. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
  7. ^ Ross, Mike (24 July 2005). "Long live the Lizard King". Edmonton Sun. Retrieved 9 August 2010.
  8. ^ Zahlaway, Jon (31 May 2005). "The Doors of the 21st Century head up 'Strange Days' fest". LiveDaily. Archived from the original on 24 October 2007. Retrieved 9 August 2010. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  9. ^ "Ian Astbury and Boris The End @ Sydney Opera House 2010". YouTube. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
  10. ^ Dombal, Ryan (2 June 2010). "Boris Team With the Cult's Ian Astbury". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 9 August 2010.
  11. ^ "商品詳細". Diwproducts.com. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
  12. ^ "Southern Lord Records " BXI= Boris Collaboration With Ian Astbury!". Blog.southernlord.com. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
  13. ^ Laudadio, Marisa; Dodd, Johnny (29 May 2012). "The Cult's Ian Astbury Weds in Las Vegas". People. Retrieved 3 June 2012.
  14. ^ "21st Century Jesus [US] - Messiah | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 April 2019.

External links[edit]