Astbury’s first group was called The Southern Death Cult. Formed in 1981, this group released only one self-titled single late the following year before Astbury ended it just weeks later. They were best known as a live act as they toured heavily, particularly at the time of the single’s release, having slots supporting groups like Peter Murphy’s Bauhaus. An album was in the planning stages before the split in February 1983, but little had been recorded. A collection of studio outtakes, demos and live recordings was issued as an LP later in 1983, for interested fans.
Besides himself, all that remained of The Southern Death Cult was a fragment of its name when Astbury put together his next group. He had met guitarist Billy Duffy in the final months of The Southern Death Cult and they formed an entirely new group together, Death Cult. Bass player Jamie Stewart was recruited and he featured on an eponymously titled EP, but the original drummer had been replaced by Nigel Preston by the time a single, God’s Zoo, was released.
Deciding that ‘Death Cult’ sounded more gothic than the members intended, an alteration was made to the group’s name in time for their January 1984 single Spiritwalker: they were now simply The Cult. By then the group had established a following, but it wasn’t quite enough to give them a hit until She Sells Sanctuary made the Top 20. One of the group’s most enduring and best-known songs, it has been covered by several artists over the past thirty years. It was also the last to feature Preston, who left shortly after its release.
NEW SINGLES on sale from May. 17
The CULT (Ian Astbury) She Sells Sanctuary (Beggars Banquet BEG135)