Undead: Ex-Bauhaus frontman Peter Murphy and former band members’ videos on “Flash Tracks”

By on September 2, 2019

We’re very happy to report that ex-Bauhaus frontman Peter Murphy — who suffered a heart attack on August 13, 2019, a little over a month after turning 62 years old — has made a full recovery and has officially been declared “undead.”

We’re resurrecting our BauhausFlash Tracks” profile — which originally aired on May 6, 1988, and you’ll now find streaming on Night Flight Plus — featuring excerpts from our interviews with Murphy and Daniel Ash, as well as music videos by Bauhaus, Peter Murphy, Love & Rockets, and one by a side project, the Bubblemen.

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Post-Bauhaus, Peter Murphy, in particular, has enjoyed a long, successful solo career, releasing a spate of albums since the mid-Eighties — Should the World Fail to Fall Apart, (#82 UK, 1986), Love Hysteria (#135 U.S., 1988), Deep (#44 U.S., 1989), Holy Smoke (#108 U.S., 1992), Cascade (1995), Dust (2002), Unshattered (2002), Ninth (2011), and Lion, (#173 U.S., 2014) — which includes several live albums and compilations.

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Bauhaus — Murphy, guitarist Daniel Ash, bass player David J. Haskins, and drummer Kevin Haskins — originally formed in 1978.

Murphy and Ash had gone to the same Catholic school in Northampton, a provincial country town in the East Midlands, about sixty miles north of London.

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David J. (who dropped his surname early on) and his younger brother Kevin attended a different school and were, in Murphy’s words, “miserable, selfish Church of England heathens.”

Murphy later claimed he’d had a lot of “repressed psychodrama that had been leftover from Catholicism.”

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Ash and the Haskins asked Murphy to join simply because he had the right look, which reminded Ash of David Bowie.

Murphy — twenty-one years old at the time — had never really sung before, even though he’d announced to his family at age fourteen that he was going to be a singer.

His dark baritone voice was a perfect match for Bauhaus’s darkly glum lyrics, which were often about their boredom living in East Midlands (“In the flat field I do get bored“).

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Their first gig was at a pub on New Year’s Eve, December 31st, and subsequent early gigs have been described as “chaotic.” They would often gate-crash other bands’ shows, insisting they were an opening act and would play until they were tossed offstage or their amps were unplugged.

At first they called themselves Bauhaus 1919 — after the German Bauhaus art movement of the 1920s — because of its “stylistic implications and associations” according to David J.

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After being together for just six weeks, the band demoed five tracks at Beck Studios in Wellingborough. One of those — the nine-minute “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” — was recorded in just two takes.

Murphy sang lyrics written by David J, who has said he was inspired by watching several vampire movies on British TV which aired back-to-back.

He’d shaped the song around the idea that a vampire never really being able to “retire,” but the song was also about actor Bela Lugosi, who wasn’t able to escape playing the role that had made him famous.

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“Bela Lugosi’s Dead” was Bauhaus’s debut single, released in August 1979 on the Small Wonder Records imprint. It charted at #8 on the UK Indy charts and continued charting for the next two years.

Bauhaus would also appear on John Peel’s radio show on January 3, 1980.

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That same month a second single, “Dark Entries,” was released on a new imprint, 4AD, founded by two staffers at Beggar’s Banquet Records, Ivo Watts-Russell and Peter Kent (it charted at #17 on the UK Indy chart).

Their debut album, In The Flat Field, topped the Indie charts, and charted for one week at #72 on the UK album charts.

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By the end of the year, Bauhaus were paying homage to a ’70s influence, releasing their sped-up version of the T. Rex 1972 hit “Telegram Sam” (the video was directed by Mick Calvert).

Bauhaus would eventually move up to 4AD’s parent label, Beggar’s Banquet, releasing a few more singles and a new album, Mask, in October 1981.

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Read more about Bauhaus below.

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By 1982, problems began arising within the band after Murphy appeared in a popular British TV advert for Maxell audio cassettes (“Break The Sound Barrier”).

Things only got worse after Bauhaus appeared in the opening scene of the erotic thriller about aging vampires, The Hunger, the directorial debut of Tony Scott, Ridley Scott’s younger brother.

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The film — starring David Bowie, Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve — was released in April of ’83, and although the entire band were filmed for the NYC nightclub scene, three of them resented the fact that the camera seemed to focus mostly on Peter Murphy singing their most famous song, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.”

Bauhaus’s next single was their version of Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust.” A music video — directed in August ’82 by Mick Calvert — was shot in a series of complex tunnels beneath Camden Lock market known as the “Camden Catacombs.”

“Ziggy Stardust” launched Bauhaus in the UK Top 20 in October ’82, and they released their third album, The Sky’s Gone Out (#4 UK), but then Murphy was stricken with viral pneumonia.

By the time he’d rejoined them, his bandmates had recorded most of what would be their final album, Burning From The Inside.

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They broke up onstage at the Hammersmith Palais on July 5th, a week after the album’s release.

Despite launching into the Top 10 in the UK, the album’s new musical direction showed that Daniel Ash, David J and Kevin Haskins were already thinking ahead to their next project, Love & Rockets.

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Watch our BauhausFlash Tracks” feature which also includes videos by Peter Murphy, Love & Rockets and more — on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.