Peter Murphy (musician)

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Peter Murphy
Murphy performing in April 2011
Murphy performing in April 2011
Background information
Birth namePeter John Joseph Murphy
Born (1957-07-11) 11 July 1957 (age 64)
Northampton, Northamptonshire, England
GenresPost-punk, gothic rock, alternative rock[1]
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • keyboards
Years active1978–present
Associated acts

Peter John Joseph Murphy (born 11 July 1957) is an English singer, songwriter, and musician.[2] He was the vocalist of the goth rock band Bauhaus and later went on to release a number of solo albums, including Love Hysteria, Deep, and Holy Smoke. Thin with prominent cheekbones, a baritone voice, and a penchant for gloomy poetics, he is often called the "Godfather of Goth".[3][4]

Early life[edit]

Peter John Joseph Murphy was born on 11 July 1957[5] in Northampton, Northamptonshire.[6] He is of Irish descent.[7] Murphy was raised in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, where he had a strict Catholic upbringing,[8] and was a school friend of Daniel Ash. Murphy's first interest in music was due to his mother's habit of constantly humming tunes. He also grew into an artistically inclined teenager. He was regarded as introverted and somewhat anti-social and due to that, Murphy turned down the chance to go to art college, and instead worked as printer’s assistant, while pursuing his interests in painting, writing, and singing in his free time.[9]

According to Peter regarding his musical beginnings:

"Well I was like the bookbinder printer-skilled chap, and Danny (Ash) had left school and he went to Art School four years or five years later and I got onto a course there with just one week’s worth of work that I’d just scraped together, but I didn’t want to go I felt very introverted and didn’t want that, it was more about going into that environment. So I internalised and listened to my music. After school everyone had split and gone their own ways, all the friends I had were artists but I was a kid who was interested in a multitude of things, I loved literature, all kinds of things, anything I turned my hand to, but there was no outlet for it. Which is typical because in that fertile earth of Britain where nothing happens a lot comes out you know. So I’d really been listening to music from being a baby, from 1st World War and 2nd World War songs through to Doris Day, then Simon and Garfunkel, Rolling Stones, The Beatles, to all the early Reggae stuff. It was a very musical family in terms of listening and singing, there was lots of music in the house and then in 1966 The Beatles explode and the radio is everywhere. Everywhere you go there’s music but on reflection now what’s happening is that there’s just this generic mush everywhere, you know what I mean? ...But I love to listen to vocal harmonies so there’s The Beatles and the Everly Brothers, and voices… Plus there was a very strong influence from Mass, you know the Catholic Mass at school where hymns were always really choral, and that was inspiring even from the first day when I was five. School itself was in this lovely little old building with this high ambient ceiling, a very ‘reverb’ place a where we sang ‘Ave Maria’ with this Spanish Teacher who was so inspired to get us to sing. So all this was going on in my head and I didn’t have any other context other than loving it, and I would sing all the time."[10]



Daniel Ash convinced Murphy to join Bauhaus, one of the establishing acts of the goth movement. Their use of spacey recording effects and theatrical aesthetics was evocative of glam rock; they became an influential group in the early days of gothic rock. In 1983, Bauhaus appeared during the opening sequences of the horror film The Hunger, performing one of their most popular songs, "Bela Lugosi's Dead".[11] The camera focused almost exclusively on Murphy during most of the scene, panning only briefly to the stars David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve. Bauhaus reformed in 1998 for a tour, and later reunited again in late 2019 for three reunion shows.

Solo career[edit]


By 1983, Bauhaus had broken up and Murphy went on to new projects not involving Bauhaus members Kevin Haskins, David J or Daniel Ash. After some brief dabbling with acting and dance – including a television performance to Bauhaus's "Hollow Hills" – he formed Dalis Car with Mick Karn, the bass player from Japan. The group recorded only one album.

Peter Murphy in San Francisco, 1987

After Dalis Car's lack of commercial success, Murphy's first solo album, Should the World Fail to Fall Apart, was similarly overlooked. Should the World Fail to Fall Apart did spawn several singles, including a cover of Pere Ubu's "Final Solution" that made a minor splash on the club scene.

The followup, Love Hysteria, was not successful in the UK although in the US it performed better than his previous solo releases. The album also marked the beginning of a long-term collaboration with songwriter Paul Statham from B-Movie, who co-wrote songs with Murphy until 1995. The resulting singles "All Night Long" and "Indigo Eyes" helped garner a wider following, and the black-and-white video for "All Night Long" entered rotation on MTV.

The pinnacle of Murphy's solo popularity in the US came with the release of Deep. For this album Murphy sported hair dyed platinum blonde and returned to the more aggressive alt-rock sound that was a trademark of early Bauhaus.[citation needed] The single "Cuts You Up" from Deep held on to the top spot on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart for seven weeks. "Cuts You Up" remains Murphy's most popular song to date, which has led many critics to refer to him as a one hit wonder artist.


Murphy moved to Turkey with his wife, and a Middle Eastern influence can be heard in his later albums.[12] 1992's Holy Smoke mixed some traditional Turkish influences into the music while continuing the sound pioneered on Deep.[citation needed]

In 1995, Murphy embraced a lower-key, ambient pop sound for Cascade, featuring producer Pascal Gabriel, guest work from "infinite guitarist" Michael Brook, and overall a much stronger incorporation of electronics. This album was also to be his last major collaboration with Paul Statham, who departed to form Peach with Pascal Gabriel and eventually write songs for Dido and Kylie Minogue. Cascade was also Murphy's last original release for Beggar's Banquet records, which had been his label since Bauhaus. Shortly after this departure, Murphy recorded the Recall EP for the newly formed Red Ant records, featuring a few new songs and some new, heavily electronic versions of older material, reworked in conjunction with Sascha Konietzko, Bill Rieflin and Tim Skold of the band KMFDM. Once again, he became label-mates with former Bauhaus alums Love and Rockets, who had also signed to Red Ant. This generated a significant number of rumours regarding a possible reformation of Bauhaus. While Red Ant quickly folded, Bauhaus did reform in 1998 for the Resurrection tour, one performance of which (at the Hammerstein Ballroom, New York City) was recorded and released on DVD by Metropolis Records as Gotham. The tour was a success.[citation needed]


In 2000, Murphy performed his international Just for Love tour, which resulted in the album aLive Just for Love. It is a live recording of the fully uninterrupted set from the El Rey show in Los Angeles on 30 November 2000. During the tour, Murphy chose to perform with only two back-up musicians, Canadian electric violinist Hugh Marsh and Peter DiStefano from Porno for Pyros on guitar, although former Bauhaus bassist David J sometimes joined the trio for an encore. At this point he also contributed to works by film composer Harry Gregson-Williams.

Also in 2000, Murphy gave a nod to the North American goth scene, where his solo works and his works with Bauhaus are still popular, by making a surprise guest appearance at the sixth annual Convergence festival in Seattle, to perform a low-key, acoustic solo set.

Peter Murphy performing on the 2002 Dust tour

Shortly thereafter, Murphy collaborated with the Turkish artist Mercan Dede on the album Dust.[13] Heavily steeped in traditional Turkish instrumentation and songwriting, coupled with Dede's trademark atmospheric electronics, the album showed Murphy all but abandoning his previous pop and rock incarnations.[citation needed] Dust, released on goth/industrial stalwart label Metropolis Records, alienated many fans who had expected a more uptempo Murphy album (especially post-Recall), but it garnered some critical praise.[citation needed] Peter Murphy considers it his most unusual work to date and is most proud of the song "Your Face" from the album.[14]

In 2004, Murphy signed to yet another new label, Viastar, which was home to several other 1980s pop artists who had moved into more eclectic areas. Despite numerous problems with the label, the album Unshattered was released, showcasing Murphy returning to a more pop sound.[citation needed]

Murphy undertook extensive tours of Europe and the US to promote Unshattered in 2005, with a live band featuring guitarist Mark Thwaite, (The Mission, Tricky) on guitar, Jeff Schartoff of Human Waste Project and Professional Murder Music on bass and Justin Bennett of Skinny Puppy on drums. Murphy and the band reconvened in November 2007 for shows in Portugal and Spain, with Nick Lucero replacing Bennett on drums. In May 2008 Murphy recorded a cover of the song "Warm Leatherette" with Trent Reznor and Jeordie White from Nine Inch Nails. This was played live at an intimate studio performance, and the video recording was released on both the official Nine Inch Nails website and on YouTube.

In 2009, Murphy appeared at shows across the United States with Reznor, and the band members Reznor had for the 'Lights in the Sky Over North America 2008' tour. He also appeared with Nine Inch Nails in August 2009 at Terminal 5 as a special guest musician. Additionally, he appeared with Nine Inch Nails on 28 and 29 August at the Aragon Ballroom.

Throughout 2009, Murphy released a series of cover songs exclusively through iTunes. The released songs are "Instant Karma!" (originally by John Lennon), "Space Oddity" (originally by David Bowie), "Transmission" (originally by Joy Division), and "Hurt" (originally by Nine Inch Nails). In support of these releases, Murphy underwent an international tour entitled "The Secret Covers Tour". During this time, an additional cover song, Soul of the World, was released through his official website.[15]


In 2010, Murphy made a cameo appearance in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse as "The Cold One".[16] In the summer of 2010, Murphy began his "Dirty Dirt Tour" in promotion of his studio album Ninth.

In August 2010, on a video blog on his MySpace page, Murphy announced that he was once again going to be working with Mick Karn on a second Dalis Car album, adding this would be the first time they had seen each other since 1983. Several months prior to this announcement, Karn had been diagnosed with stage-four cancer. The recording session took place in September 2010; however, because of Karn's increasingly severe illness, they only managed to record four songs during the session. Karn died on 4 January 2011. According to the biography on Karn's website, the four songs the duo recorded will be released as an EP later in 2011.[17]

In February 2011, Murphy announced a 29-date tour across North America to support his upcoming album Ninth, released in June 2011.[18] Murphy released the song "I Spit Roses" as a digital single through online retailers in March 2011, as well as single "Seesaw Sway" that May.[19][20]

Starting in April 2013, Murphy toured Europe and the US on the Mr Moonlight Tour, celebrating 35 years of Bauhaus, with longtime guitarist Mark Thwaite, drummer Nick Lucero and bassist Emilio DiZefalo-China.[21] He later replaced guitarist Mark Thwaite (who left the band in September 2013) with Andee Blacksugar in October, who finished out the remaining tour dates in China, Russia, Australia and New Zealand.

In June 2014, Murphy released his tenth studio album, Lion. In June 2015, he released Remixes from Lion, featuring remixes by Youth along with four bonus songs from the Lion recording sessions.

Personal life[edit]

Murphy has two brothers, older brother Daniel and twin Christoper.[22] In 1992, Murphy moved to Istanbul with his Turkish wife, Beyhan, who is the head choreographer of the Turkish National Modern Dance group. They have two children, daughter Hurihan Murphy and son Adem Murphy.[23] In adulthood, Murphy converted from Roman Catholicism to Sufism.[7][24] In 2013, Murphy received a three-year probation sentence for a California hit-and-run accident.[25] In August 2019, Murphy was hospitalized for a heart attack at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.[26] Murphy underwent heart surgery. He released a statement ten days later that thanked his medical team for saving his life. He stated that he had made a "full recovery" and "was up and running again."[27]

Popular culture and miscellaneous[edit]


Studio albums[edit]

Live albums[edit]

  • aLive Just for Love (2001)
  • Mr. Moonlight Tour – 35 Years of Bauhaus (2014)
  • Wild Birds Live Tour (2015)
  • Bare-Boned and Sacred (2017)
  • Live in London (2019)


Singles and EPs[edit]

Year Title Chart positions Album
US Hot 100 US Modern Rock US Mainstream Rock UK Singles Chart
1985 "Final Solution" 92 Should the World Fail to Fall Apart
1986 "Blue Heart"
"Tale of the Tongue"
1988 "All Night Long" 100 Love Hysteria
"Blind Sublime"
"Indigo Eyes" 95
1989 "The Line Between the Devil's Teeth (And That Which Cannot Be Repeat)" 18 Deep
1990 "Cuts You Up" 55 1 10
"A Strange Kind of Love" 21
1992 "The Sweetest Drop" 2 Holy Smoke
"You're So Close" 18
"Hit Song"
1995 "The Scarlet Thing in You" Cascade
"I'll Fall with Your Knife" (promo only)
1997 Recall EP Non-album EP
2009 "Instant Karma!" iTunes Secret Covers
"Space Oddity"
"Transmission (Live And Cracklin)"
2011 "I Spit Roses" Ninth
"Seesaw Sway"
The Secret Bees of Ninth EP Non-album EP
2014 "Hang Up" Lion
"I Am My Own Name"


  1. ^ Goodman, Wİlliam (27 August 2009). "Watch: NIN Joined by Bauhaus' Peter Murphy!". Spin. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  2. ^ Dom Gourlay (25 September 2011). "DiS meets Peter Murphy". Drowned in Sound. Drowned in Sound. Archived from the original on 24 August 2018. Retrieved 20 October 2018. Having emerged from the tail end of punk rock's ethers in 1978 as lead vocalist with iconic four-piece Bauhaus, Peter Murphy has forged a reputation as one of the most unique, and challenging songwriters of his and every subsequent generation since.
  3. ^ Gill, Andy (16 August 2002). "Album: Peter Murphy". The Independent. London: Independent News & Media. Archived from the original on 11 December 2008. Retrieved 7 November 2008.
  4. ^ Theiner, Manny (19 June 2008). "Music Preview: Bauhaus frontman Peter Murphy tours with solo retrospective". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. PG Publishing Co. Retrieved 7 November 2008.
  5. ^ Romanowski, George-Warren & Pareles 1995, p. 54.
  6. ^ Larkin 2011, p. 469.
  7. ^ a b Brinn, David (15 July 2010). "A role to sink his teeth into Jerusalem Post 15 July 2010". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 27 October 2010.
  8. ^ "Murphy, Peter". Cengage Gale. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  9. ^ Feemster, Scott. "Peter Murphy - Biography". Amoeba. Amoeba Music Inc. Retrieved 30 March 2020. Peter John Murphy was born in the English midlands city of Northampton, and raised in a strict Catholic family of nine kids, he being the youngest. Murphy remembered first being attracted to music due to his mother’s habit of constantly humming tunes, and grew into an artistically inclined teenager, though one that was somewhat anti-social and introverted. Because of his anti-social bent, he turned down the chance to go to art college, and instead worked as printer’s assistant, while pursuing his interests in painting, writing, and singing in his free time.
  10. ^ Rockpit, Mark (4 October 2018). "Interview: Peter Murphy (Bauhaus 40th Anniversary Tour Interview)". The Rockpit. The Rockpit. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  11. ^ "Bauhaus Biography". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 10 August 2012. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  12. ^ Kim, J. (16 June 2002). "Peter Murphy Interview". Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  13. ^ "Peter Murphy | Portrait of a Sufi Artist from West". Archived from the original on 5 February 2021. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  14. ^ "Interview with Peter Murphy about Bauhaus, "Go Away White" and his solo career, February 2008". (in Greek). 25 February 2008. Retrieved 27 October 2010.
  15. ^ "Peter Murphy – Secret Cover Tour". Archived from the original on 18 February 2010. Retrieved 27 October 2010.
  16. ^ "The Official Site of Peter Murphy". Retrieved 27 October 2010.
  17. ^ "Mick Karn - Biography". 6 February 2011. Archived from the original on 6 February 2011.
  18. ^ "Peter Murphy Official Site". 3 June 2014. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  19. ^ "I Spit Roses – Single by Peter Murphy". iTunes Store. 22 March 2011. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  20. ^ "Seesaw Sway – Single by Peter Murphy". iTunes Store. 23 May 2011. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  21. ^ "Peter Murphy Live". Archived from the original on 8 May 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  22. ^ "Peter Murphy verified facebook page". 5 November 2018.
  23. ^ Horn, Mark C. "Bauhaus' Peter Murphy Fondly Remembers His First Time Seeing the Arizona Desert". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 30 September 2021.
  24. ^ Bordal, Christian (4 March 2008). "Bauhaus: Godfathers of Goth Regroup [audio interview with Kevin Haskins and Daniel Ash]". Retrieved 9 October 2021.
  25. ^ Rocha, Veronica (11 October 2013). "No jail time for rocker Peter Murphy". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  26. ^ Roberts, Randall (14 August 2019). "Goth legend Peter Murphy hospitalized after suffering heart attack". Los Angeles Times.
  27. ^ "Peter Murphy 'up and running' after heart attack". BBC News. 26 August 2019.
  28. ^ McKean, Dave; Gaiman, Neil (1997). The collected Sandman covers, 1989–1997. Watson-Guptill. p. 1. ISBN 9780823046324. The Sandman image was inspired hy 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."
  29. ^ Jones, Kelly (2004). McCabe, Joseph (ed.). Hanging out with the dream king: conversations with Neil Gaiman and his collaborators. 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...
  30. ^ Gaiman, Neil (16 February 2013). "The official Neil Gaiman Tumblr". Tumblr. Retrieved 10 July 2013. The original idea-model for Morpheus was Peter Murphy from Bauhaus.
  31. ^ Gaiman, Neil. "Neil Gaiman – FAQ – Comics". Retrieved 22 September 2012. If I remember correctly Dave based the face on the cover of Sandman No. 1 on an image of Peter Murphy.
  32. ^ Baddeley, Gavin; Woods, Paul A. (2006). Woods, Paul A. (ed.). Goth chic: a connoisseur's guide to dark culture (2 ed.). Plexus. p. 1941. ISBN 9780859653824. Sandman inker Mike Dringenberg observed, '"Hey, [he] looks like Peter Murphy from Bauhaus.'" Cover artist Dave McKean and Gaiman 'got some Bauhaus videos and immediately saw that Mike was right; and Dave ended up making the central image on the cover of Sandman [number one] a Peter Murphy-like face.
  33. ^ Smith, Evans; Brown, Nathan (2008). "22: Comparative Mythology in Pop Culture". The Complete Idiot's Guide to World Mythology. Penguin. p. 287. ISBN 9781436268103. The physical appearance of Eric Draven was based heavily on the face of Peter Murphy of the band Bauhaus, who O'Barr also saw while in Germany, and the body of rock icon Iggy Pop.
  34. ^ Voger, Mark (2006). "As the Crow Flies". The Dark Age. TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 51. ISBN 9781893905535. Q: How did the Crow character of Eric come to you? O'Barr: Basically, I was just playing around with the makeup on the face. I was in England. On the side of a building was painted the three faces of the English theater, which were Pain, Irony and Despair. The smiling face was Irony. So that's basically where the makeup came from. Physically, Eric is kind of a mixture of Iggy Pop and Peter Murphy.
  35. ^ " Nardwuar vs. Peter Murphy". Retrieved 2 May 2020.
  36. ^ Landau, Erica K. (30 October 2009). "Grrrly Talk: Q&A with Jewel, Playing at the Fillmore Tuesday, November 3". Miami New Times. NT: You once opened for Peter Murphy. That's really funny. Are you a fan of Bauhaus? J: I didn't really know who they were until I opened for Peter Murphy and then I realized how influential they were, which is really fascinating. Goth sort of before goth happened. But it was a difficult show to open for.
  37. ^ Jewel (15 September 2015). Never Broken: Songs are Only Half the Story. Penguin Publishing Group. p. 180. ISBN 9780399174339. I was nowhere near famous, opening for Peter Murphy of Bauhaus in small clubs. Goth fans in makeup, fangs and scars, and black clothes.
  38. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc (September 1995). "Newsmakers". Billboard. 107 (37): 89. ISSN 0006-2510.
  39. ^ Perrone, Pierre (11 March 2004). "John McGeoch" (Obituary). The Independent. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
  40. ^ "Mama Mirabelle's Home Movies - A Savannah Kwanzaa/You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby". IMDb. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  41. ^ "Mama Mirabelle's Home Movies - Have You Heard/This Is Mama's World". IMDb. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  42. ^ "Bauhaus Concert Guide". Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  43. ^ "Peter Murphy - The Scarlet Thing In You". Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  44. ^ Lewis, John (16 June 2011). "Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares recorded". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  45. ^ "Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares". Shepherd Express. 16 May 2008. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  46. ^ May, Chris (28 February 2017). "Le Mystère Des Voix Bulgares: How this all-female Bulgarian folk choir became a timeless cult phenomenon". The Vinyl Factory. The Vinyl Factory Limited. Retrieved 9 July 2020.
  47. ^ Bardhan, Ashley (24 June 2020). "Eight Artists Redefining Bulgarian Music". Bandcamp. Retrieved 9 July 2020. Center image Oratnitza Bulgarian music has been the subject of worldwide fascination since the mid ‘80s, when Bauhaus’s lead singer Peter Murphy discovered Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, Marcel Cellier’s 1975 recording of the State Television and Radio Female Voice Choir. He passed the cassette he found onto Ivo Watts-Russell, one of the cofounders of indie label 4AD, who then licensed, repackaged, and distributed the original tapes.


External links[edit]