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The Cult

Following a succession of name and stylistic changes, the Cult emerged in 1984 as one of England's leading heavy metal revivalists. Picking up the pseudo-mysticism and Native American obsessions of the Doors, the guitar-orchestrations of Led Zeppelin, and the three-chord crunch of AC/DC, while adding touches of post-punk goth rock, the Cult gained a dedicated following in their native Britain with mid-'80s singles like "She Sells Sanctuary" before breaking into the American metal market in the late '80s with "Love Removal Machine." Though they managed one Top Ten in America with 1989's Sonic Temple, the Cult were plagued with off-stage tensions and problems that prevented them from retaining their popularity. The band split in 1995 following a pair of unsuccessful records, but returned on an occasional basis for new records -- always anchored by vocalist Ian Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy.

The origins of the Cult lie in the Southern Death Cult, a goth rock outfit formed by vocalist Ian Astbury (born May 14, 1962) in 1981. Astbury was the son of a merchant navy man, which meant he moved frequently during his youth; at one point in his childhood, his family lived in Canada, where the young Astbury became fascinated with Native Americans, which would become a recurring theme in his songwriting. Astbury eventually settled in Bradford, Yorkshire, where he met a group comprised of David Burrows (guitar), Barry Jepson (bass), and Haq Quereshi (drums). Ian joined the group as its lead vocalist (performing with the last name of "Lindsay," which was his mother's maiden name) and had the group renamed the Southern Death Cult. At only its fifth concert, the band was attracting audiences of 2,000. In December 1982, the Southern Death Cult released their first single -- the double A-side "Moya"/"Fatman" -- and the following month, they supported Bauhaus on tour. Though the group's future was looking bright, Astbury pulled the plug on the band because he was frustrated with the positive articles he was receiving in the press. The remaining three members joined Getting the Fear, which eventually became Into a Circle; in the late '80s, Quereshi became a member of Fun^Da^Mental. All of the Southern Death Cult recordings were eventually released in 1986.

Following the disbandment of the Southern Death Cult, Astbury shortened the name of the group to Death Cult and recruited guitarist Billy Duffy -- who had previously played with Morrissey in the pre-Smiths band the Nosebleeds, as well as Theatre of Hate -- and drummer Ray Mondo and bassist Jamie Stewart, who had previously played with Ritual. Death Cult released an eponymous EP in the summer of 1983; on the EP, Astbury reverted back to his given name. Later in the year, Mondo was replaced by Nigel Preston, who had previously played with Duffy in Theatre of Hate; coincidentally, Mondo became the drummer for Preston's previous band, Sex Gang Children.

In early 1984, the bandmembers decided to excise "Death" from the title, fearing that the word gave them the misleading appearance of being a goth band. Where both Southern Death Cult and Death Cult had been overtly influenced by post-punk, the Cult were a heavy hard rock band with slight psychedelic flourishes. Dreamtime, the group's first album, was released in the fall of 1984, accompanied by the single "Spiritwalker." Dreamtime reached number 21 on the U.K. charts. In the spring of 1985, Preston left the group. For the group's summer single, "She Sells Sanctuary," the band was joined by Big Country's drummer, Mark Brzezicki. "She Sells Sanctuary" became a major U.K. hit, peaking at number 15. During the recording of the group's second album, drummer Les Warner joined the group. Love, released in the fall of 1985, continued the hard rock direction of its teaser single and became a number four hit in Britain.

For their third album, the Cult shuffled their lineup -- Stewart moved to rhythm guitar, while former Zodiac Mindwarp bassist Kid Chaos joined the lineup -- and hired Rick Rubin as producer, and the result, Electric, was their hardest, heaviest record to date. The first single from the album, "Love Removal Machine," became a number 18 hit in the spring of 1987, while the album itself reached number four in the U.K. upon its April release. Later that year, Electric gained the Cult a fan base in America, and the album cracked the U.S. Top 40.

In 1988, the group fired Chaos and Warner, replacing the latter with Matt Sorum; the band failed to hire another bassist. The new lineup released Sonic Temple, which would prove to be the band's most successful album. The hit single "Fire Woman" helped propel the album into the American Top Ten, and within no time the Cult were seen hanging out with the likes of Mötley Crüe and Aerosmith, as well as supporting Metallica on the Damaged Justice tour. Though the group was experiencing its best sales, it was fraying behind the scenes, due to infighting and substance abuse. By the time they recorded their follow-up to Sonic Temple, Sorum had left to join Guns N' Roses and Stewart had quit; they were replaced by drummer Mickey Curry and bassist Charlie Drayton. The resulting album, Ceremony, was released in the fall of 1991 to weak reviews and disappointing sales.

Following the release of Ceremony, the group took a break for the next three years. In 1993, the band released the U.K.-only hits compilation Pure Cult, which debuted at number one. By summer 1993, the Cult had a new rhythm section, featuring former Mission bassist Craig Adams and drummer Scott Garrett. This lineup recorded The Cult, which was released in late 1994 to poor reviews and sales. In spring 1995, the Cult disbanded, with Ian Astbury forming the Holy Barbarians later in the year. Billy Duffy briefly played with Miles Hunt's Vent 414 before leaving to pursue a solo project. In 2000, the band's catalog was remastered and reissued, and Pure Cult was released in the U.S. (despite a similar compilation, High Octane Cult, having appeared four years earlier). It was followed by Rare Cult, a six-disc box set of rarities.

A new Cult with Matt Sorum and Martyn LeNoble joining Astbury and Duffy made their debut in June 1999 at the Tibetan Freedom Festival. This band produced the 2001 album Beyond Good and Evil before the Cult were retired again, as Astbury joined former Doors members Robbie Krieger and Ray Manzarek in the Doors of the 21st Century (later renamed Riders on the Storm). In 2007, it was announced that Astbury had left the band to rejoin Duffy in a new version of the Cult, with Chris Wyse on bass and John Tempesta on drums. They signed to Roadrunner and released Born into This in 2008, which they promoted over the next few years on their highly publicized Love Live tour. They returned to the studio in 2011 after inking a deal with Cooking Vinyl Records and released their ninth studio album, Choice of Weapon, the following year. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography


Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2 is my favorite game.
one of the few groups whose songs are good enough you can play from start to finish. no need to skip songs
One of the great rock vocalists.
In a time of synthesizers and spandex pop rock with big hair, these guys were churning out some good ole fashioned striped down heavy rock and roll.
The Cult are great.Do not join a Cult though.Bad things I hear.
I have always sort of thought of them as the AC/DC that it is okay to like ...ha ha!
At a bar in Wrightsville Beach NC and herd a band cover she sells and brought back so many memories of high school and friends who have passed
Love the Cult!!!
Had amazing sex with a beautiful woman to sonic temple..grea t memory..she put a tarantula on my head...then we banged till the wee hrs till her ex came by and she had me hide in the closet till they left...
Wish I would bump into her again...but she would have to tell me that it was her cause I was 18...wow15 yrs ago
Luv the Cult!
The Cult were the sound track to my crazy youth. The Cult are and have always been my favorite. Have seen them 4x. Will see them again. Awesome live. I always thought Ian was the coolest front man I have seen. Women want him, men want to be him.
Metal? Not really.
Love The Cult.... saw them a couple years ago at Electric Factory in Philly.
Great band, one of the BEST shows i've ever attended (1999). Met Ian Asbury - nice, down to earth, all around cool gent
love the Cult
Electric was and still is there best album period I waited 6 f**king hrs in 1987 for this record to come out
Hey when did they start deleting comments on here?
What I meant to say was the cult went through so many fucken fucken titles for their KookySpook(G o t h , o r the term is Death rock)that they finally kept it like this K.I.S.S. in other words (K)eep,(I)t, ( S ) i m p l e , ( S ) t u p i d , j u s t plain out TheCult and also they got out of their batcave,and finally realized that Heavy fast and thunderin Drums,and heavy guitar licks is gonna be their style instead of havin this f**got a** kookyspook homo,goth batcavin musical structure Deadjailrnr
What I would do to Ian Astbury if he was here with me right now!
One of the loudest F#@*ing bands I have ever seen!! Awesome..... . . .
I saw them on the UND campus about 87 opening for Metallica's .....And justice tour. Got boooed right off the stage. I was rocking. It out. I love them
caucajunrebe l
I saw them in Dallas in the late 80's. They ROCKED!!!
"The Cult" made 1989 and "Men without Hats", and similar acts look like the fairies that they were.
Nope. Led Zeppelin' s is
That's the longest band bio on Pandora I have ever seen. Ever. ~ Looking forward to seeing them at Rockville.
Very under appreciated band
Cult Forever. Forever Cult.
Get some vocal talent! This message is for all old rock bands with high pitch and/or scratchy voices.
Hi Pandora, this is Love Removal Machine, not Wild Flower.
The Cult kicks a**. Firewoman is as fresh today as the day it came out!
love the cult, to all the naysayers go listen to gaga or kathy perry
Totally agree about Love. I wore it out twice on cassette, lost it on CD and re purchased it. I have never owned that many copies of one album. And Billy Duffy is one under-rated guitarist.
All these years later and Love is still one of my go-to discs. A freaking masterpiece.
One of the best hard rock bands to come out of the 80's. Billy Duffy, you wrote and played some of the most memorable licks of the decade. Cheers!
The Cult Sonic Temple was one of my first vinyl records. It still kicks a** today. That's how you rock Mr Beiber.
The cult is just kick a** rock
Saw them open for Aerosmith on the Sonic temple tour in Frankfurt, Germany early 90's... They stole the show, great concert
just some great songs !!!!
Long version of " She Sells Sanctuary" kicks A$$
Man this group rocks seriously hard. She sells Sanctuary one of their best songs. Wish they were still around!
BAD FUN baby, time to go.
Life's too short, on with the show....
Check out the remixes for Electric on the EP called The Manor Sessions, even heavier, don't know why they didn't use these originally. Been a big fan since mid 80's and seen them multiple times.
this is a great band. i still consider them goth rock in the same genre with concrete blonde,the sisters of mercy,peter murphy,and etc.
Rwbbunny(my bad rawbutbunny) you must have been lookin for boy George,cultu r e club you obviously have no idea what the cult along with many others did for are new genre of music you had to been one of the bookworm geeks that wished he could have gone to a concert without getin his a$$kicked dude your a poser and have not a clue what real music is or what bands like the cult or others did to pave the way for some kick a$$ bands out there now .. Go shoot yourself
yet anthony is here to comment....w h a t a stube!
One of the best 80's hard rock bands, period!!!
The Cult:

Love - channeling Joy Division
Electric - channeling AC/DC
Sonic Temple - channeling Led Zeppelin

Nothing wrong with any of the above!
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