The Cure started in 1976 when Robert Smith, a 17 year old attending St Wilfrid's Comprehensive in Crawley, Sussex, England formed The Easy Cure with schoolmates Michael Dempsey (bass), Lol Tolhurst (drums) and Porl Thompson (guitar) after selecting the name from the choices The Obelisks, Goat Band and Malice. The name was chosen from Lol Tolhurst's first song he ever wrote. The 4-piece began writing and playing their own songs almost immediately, and quickly built themselves an impressive and extensive list of original material including soon to be seminal classics as Killing an Arab and 10:15 Saturday Night.
In early 1977 the group had won a nationwide 'Battle of the Bands' style competition held by German-owned label Ariola-Hansa' that would have led to the release of a debut single and album but the relationship between them and the label was iffy at best for Hansa' saw The Easy Cure as a trendy Pop group but Smith had other ideas and within a year they left the label.
In 1978 the 'Easy' part of their name was dropped, along with Thompson, and a trio now known simply as The Cure sent out a demo tape of 4 songs to record labels. But when a keen response from Polydor A&R man Chris Parry arrived The Cure signed with his new Fiction' label that September. The aforementioned cancelled single and album were now under construction again, and the Killing An Arab single was released to great acclaim through a deal with 'Small Wonder Records' that December. Re-released on Fiction' in January 1979, it was quickly followed by the album Three Imaginary Boys, and the strange mix of obscure imagery and angular music caused controversy and comment. A U.K. tour then followed that saw them playing with Wire, Joy Division and The Jam. A further two non-album singles, Boy's Don't Cry and Jumping Someone Else's Train were released, as well as a couple of side project recordings with The Obtainers and Cult Hero. Boys Don't Cry, the single, broke them into the U.S. market as a minor hit, and led to Three Imaginary Boys being re-issued and re-named Boys Don't Cry for that market.
It was during this time that The Cure and Siouxsie And The Banshees, became a seemingly inseparable pair and within two dates of The Cure's support slot on the Banshee's U.K. tour in late 1979, Smith found himself playing two sets a night, having filled in for their departed guitarist John McKay. But by the end of this period, differences within the band led to the quiet departure of Michael Dempsey.
A change was in the works when Simon Gallup (bass) and Matthieu Hartley (keyboards) joined, and in early 1980 the 4-piece Cure embarked on two weeks of studio experimentation, deciding to explore the darker side of Smith's songwriting. The result was the minimalist classic Seventeen Seconds. An album of clarity and grace that offered A Forest to became the band's first bona fide U.K. hit single, and a Top Of The Pops appearance followed. With Seventeen Seconds climbing to #20 in the U.K. album charts, The Cure set out on a world tour including Europe, U.S.A. and Australasia. But at the end Matthieu Hartley decided he didn't want it anymore and was forced to leave the band.
Faith (1981) would be the follow-up. The band also finished an instrumental soundtrack for their 'tour support' film Carnage Visors. Faith reached #14 in the U.K. album charts, and spawned the hit single Primary.
Their increasingly morbid fascination with the darker side spawned another album in 1982. Pornography boasted black nihilism, and ironically became the first Cure album to break into the U.K. Top 10 at #9. But the supporting tour, The 'Fourteen Explicit Moments, saw the band in turmoil, and by the time The Hanging Garden was released as a single, Simon Gallup had left.
The repeated pattern on band strife was a sign that a rest was needed and some less serious music was in order so Smith released the counterfeit cheesy disco release of Let's Go To Bed that became an unexpected Pop hit in America. But The Cure line-up was still in disarray - the single was recorded with Wreckless Eric drummer Steve Goulding, and Lol Tolhurst having moved onto keyboards, but a new Cure partnership was created during the making of the accompanying video with video producer Tim Pope.
The Cure continued to redefine themselves in 1983 with the electronic dance of The Walk (U.K. #12) and the cartoon jazz of The Lovecats, which became the band's first single to claim the U.K. Top 10 by reaching #7. The three Cure singles and their B-sides were collectively released as the album Japanese Whispers. 1983 was also witness to Smith's commitments of recording and touring a members of the Banshee's again, helping write and record their Hyaena and Nocturne albums, as well as completing the Blue Sunshine album as The Glove; an experimental project with Banshee Steve Severin.
In 1984 The Top was released, and although billed as a Cure album, in reality it was a Smith solo effort for he played everything on it except drums. But soon after the line-up shifted to include Andy Anderson on drums, Phil Thornalley on bass and Porl Thompson back on guitar. But for a number of reasons, come the end of the tour both Andy Anderson and Phil Thornalley had left the band. Boris Williams (drums) and a returning Simon Gallup (bass) replaced them. After the live recording Concert (1984), the revitalized band would then release The Head On The Door (1985), an album that spawned another sequence of hit singles in THOTD, Inbetween Days and Close To Me.
Standing On A Beach was released in May 1986, the title taken from the first line of Killing An Arab, featured all The Cure singles and B-sides to date. Complemented by a video version of the compilation Staring At The Sea, these releases, and yet another huge world tour, including the band's first headlining slot at Glastonbury, saw the band at the height of their popularity. The album broke into the U.S. top 50, and the American media was suddenly fascinated with Robert Smith. One publication labeled him "the male Kate Bush", and when he lopped off his notorious mop of hair in a fit, it made MTV News On The Hour. Their Boy's Don't Cry was re-sung, re-mixed and re-released as a single, and a year of extensive gigs and festivals was completed that August with Tim Pope's celebratory live concert film The Cure In Orange, released for cinema and video the following Spring.
In 1987 the double album entitled Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me arrived. Lyrically and musically broader than anything they had yet attempted, the greatest strength of the album was its diversity and stylistic range by moving between daydreaming and nightmare. With the arrival of Roger O'Donnell on keyboards, the 6-piece Cure traveled the world from July to December on the successful Kissing Tour.
In 1988 The Cure's first decade was officially documented with the Ten Imaginary Years biography, but Lol Tolhurst's increasingly tenuous position had soured and he soon after left.
1989 saw the release of the atmospheric Disintegration album, entering the U.K. charts at #3, giving rise to 4 Top 20 singles in Lullaby, Fascination Street, Lovesong and Pictures Of You.
In early 1990 Roger O'Donnell left the group, and was replaced by long-time band friend and 'roadie' Perry Bamonte. The Cure then headlined various festivals around Europe, including Glastonbury for a 2nd time, and then divided the royalties from their live album Entreat to their 10 favourite charities. As the year progressed they recorded the single Never Enough, and released Mixed Up, a collection of remixes with old and new tracks by Mark Saunders and William Orbit. The album also included the Paul Oakenfold single remix Close To Me; the album reached #13 in the U.K. and #14 in the U.S.
In February 1991 The Cure won with 'The Brits' award of 'Best British Group', and celebrated by filming a secret London gig as Five Imaginary Boys, debuting 4 new songs which would go on to form part of their next album. They also released Playout, a 'behind the scenes' live video containing excerpts of this show as well as a number of other TV appearances.
Wish (1992) was said to be The Cure's best work yet. The album was a richly diverse, multi-faceted guitar driven album of massive appeal. It went right to at #1 in the U.K. and #2 in the U.S.A., and 3 more hit singles were taken from it. The excitement of the supporting Wish Tour performances inspired the release of two live works in 1993, Show and Paris. Show, a double album as well as a cinema and video release, captured the band onstage in Detroit, whereas Paris, a limited edition, presented the band live in the French capital playing a more eclectic collection of songs. Immediately after the tour, however, there would be another membership change with guitarist Porl Thompson leaving the band again. The band's completion of the year was as a 4-piece act as headliners at the Great Xpectations Show in London's Finsbury Park on behalf of XFM. The band also contributed the song Burn to the film The Crow, as well as covering Purple Haze for the Hendrix tribute album Stone Free.
The recording of new material was hindered in 1994 by a protracted legal action instigated by Lol Tolhurst and finally settled in autumn by a court judgment in favor of the remaining band members (Robert Smith specifically) and Fiction Records'. The whole problem also saw the departure of drummer Boris Williams; after auditions Jason Cooper quickly took up his place, while Roger O'Donnell rejoined on keyboards.
In 1995 The Cure contributed Dredd Song to the film Judge Dredd, as well as covering David Bowie's Young Americans, again in support of XFM. They broke off recording to headline some more major European Festivals, including, for an unprecedented 3rd time, the 25th Glastonbury.
In January 1996 The Cure headlined the two Hollywood Rock festivals in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, returning to the U.K. for the release of the now completed album Wild Mood Swings, another album that proved to be a worldwide success story.
In January 1997, Smith was invited to perform at David Bowie's 50th birthday party at Madison Square Gardens in New York City, and was thrilled to sing and play a couple of songs onstage with the only living idol of his teenage days. Later in the year Galore, a collection of the second decade of Cure singles, including new track Wrong Number, was released on album and video.
In early 1998 Smith appeared in an episode of the American adult cartoon South Park saving the world from the evil Mecha Streisand', as well as recording the song A Sign From God for the Trey Parker/Matt Stone film Orgazmo. The Cure also recorded World In My Eyes for a Depeche Mode tribute, and More Than This for the X-Files album. During the summer The Cure headlined another 12 European festivals, played a secret gig in London for Miller Beer's Blind Date competition, and then returned once more to Jane Seymour's mansion house to record a new album with Paul Corkett (Depeche Mode, Placebo, Nick Cave) co-producing.
1999 saw the new album Bloodflowers finished before going to New York to record an episode of VH1's Hard Rock Live, scheduled for broadcast in Spring 2000. The new century would see the band slowly coming off their high days but nonetheless successes all the same with the releases of The Cure - Greatest Hits (2001) a compilation as well as Join The Dots - B-Sides And Rareties 1978-2001 The Fiction Years (2004), and their self-titled The Cure (2004).