Overview · Events · Releases · Sessions


I've taken 1979 as the year when goth as a modern musical movement first began to appear. A case can be made for 1978 since this was the year when Joy Division, the Cure and the Banshees all released their debut singles, but 1979 is the year when the first undisputably gothic music appeared - notably Bauhaus with "Bela Lugosi's Dead" (which is probably the first record that defies classification as anything other than goth). Several other classic goth records date from 1979: "Unknown Pleasures", "Boys Don't Cry", and "Transmission".

Also, the idea of "gothic" as a way of describing an emerging musical style seems to date from 1979.

In a Factory Records interview by Mary Hannon in the summer of 1979, there is the following passage: "One clue to Joy Division lies in their album's title. Another is the description given by Martin Hannett, who calls them 'dancing music, with gothic overtones'. Uninintentionally, Bernard Albrecht gave an excellent description of 'gothic' in our interview, when describing his favourite film Nosferatu." The article goes on to describe Joy Division as "20th century gothic". Later on, on the BBC2 TV programme "Something Else" (15/9/79), Tony Wilson described Joy Division as being "gothic" in comparison with the pop mainstream. By early October, Penny Kiley was saying that "'Gothic' has become a somewhat overworked definition of the genre, but the effect of Joy Division is the same as ...that of the Banshees." in a review of Joy Division's Liverpool gig.

Chronological list of events, releases and sessions:

(Note: bands listed in green are major goth forerunners, bands listed in blue are later goth groups, bands listed in red are groups associated with the scene, bands listed in grey are electro/New Romantic groups who had nothing really to do with the scene and bands listed in white are groups who either have some relevance to the scene or are listed out of general interest)


Boys Next Door (later The Birthday Party) record "After a Fashion", "Dive Position", "I mistake myself" and "Shivers" at Richmond Recorders. "Shivers" later features on the "Dogs In Space" soundtrack.

Jan 21: Throbbing Gristle release "DOA" , their second LP.

Jan 27: The Cure play a packed gig at the Marquee and come under attack from hardcore punks.

Jan 31: Joy Division record their first BBC session for John Peel- "Exercise One", "Insight", "She's Lost Control" and "Transmission"


Feb 6: The Cure re-release "Killing An Arab" on Fiction records.


Mar 5: Gary Numan (Tubeway Army) releases "Down in the Park"

Mar 23: Siouxsie & the Banshees release "The Staircase (Mystery)"


Apr 7: Siouxsie & the Banshees play a charity gig for MENCAP at the Rainbow, where fans cause damage to the building.

Apr 7: Echo & the Bunnymen sign to Zoo records

Apr 9: Siouxsie & the Banshees record their third Peel session: Placebo Effect, Playground Twist, Regal Zone and Poppy Day.

Apr 10: The Damned release "Love Song"

Apr 12: Japan release "Life in Tokyo"

Apr 13: Fiction records delete "Killing An Arab"

Apr 16: The Human League release The Dignity of Labour 12"


May 3: Joy Division play Liverpool and are reviewed by the NME's Ian Wood, who describes their sound as "withering grey abstractions of industrial malaise".

May 5: Echo & the Bunnymen release "Pictures on My Wall"

May 6: Gary Numan (Tubeway Army) releases "Are Friends Electric?"

May 10: The Cure release their debut album, "Three Imaginary Boys"

May 16: The Cure air their second John peel session: Desperate Journalist in Ongoing Meaningful Review Situation, Grinding Halt, Subway Song, Accuracy, Plastic Passion

May 21: OMD release "Electricity" on Factory records


Jun 6: Joy Division record a session for Piccadilly Radio: "These Days", "The Only Mistake", "Candidate", "Chance (Atmosphere)" and "Atrocity Exhibition".

Jun 9: Gary Numan/Tubeway Army release their first album, "Replicas"

Jun 14: Joy Division release their first album, "Unknown Pleasures"

Jun 14: Cabaret Voltaire release "Nag Nag Nag" on Rough Trade.

Jun 20: The Cramps release their debut LP/EP, "Gravest Hits"

Jun 23: The Cure release "Boys Don't Cry"

Jun 30: Siouxsie & the Banshees release "Playground Twist" (and "Mittageisen" in Germany)


Boys Next Door begin recording tracks for "Hee Haw" at Richmond Recorders

Jul 1: The Cure headline at the Lyceum with the Ruts and the Purple Hearts

Jul 6: Adam and the Ants release "Xerox"

Jul 11: The Human League release "I don't depend on you"

Jul 18: Fad Gadget (Frank Tovey) makes his live debut at the Moonlight Club in West Hampstead


Aug 1: No City Fun, a short film featuring Joy Division's music

Aug 15: Echo & the Bunnymen record their debut Peel session: Read it In Books, I Bagsy Yours, Villiers Terrace, Stars Are Stars

Aug 22: Gary Numan releases "Cars"

Aug 29: Modern English release their debut single, "Drowning Man"

Aug 30: Siouxsie & the Banshees and The Cure play together in Aylesbury.

Aug 31: Siouxsie & the Banshees release "Join Hands", their second LP.


Sep 7: Gary Numan releases his second LP, "The Pleasure Principle"

Sep 7: Guitarist John McKay and drummer Kenny Morris leave the Banshees

Sep 10: Fad Gadget releases his first single, "Back to Nature/The Box"

Sep 15: Joy Division appear on "Something Else", a BBC music program, playing "Transmission" and "She's Lost Control". Steve Morris and Tony Wilson are interviewed, and Wilson describes Joy Division as "Gothic".

Sep 17: Siouxsie and the Banshees begin their tour with The Cure, with Robert Smith playing guitar in both the Cure and the Banshees, and Budgie (ex-Slits) joining the Banshees on drums.

Sep 18: The Psychedelic Furs sign to CBS records

Sep 24: Bauhaus release "Bela Lugosi's Dead" on Small Wonder records


Oct 2: The Joy Division gig in Liverpool supporting the Buzzcocks tonight is reviewed by Penny Kiley, who says: "'Gothic' has become a somewhat overworked definition of the genre, but the effect of Joy Division is the same as (to take an obvious example) that of the Banshees."

Oct 3: The Joy Division support gig tonight in Leeds is reviewed by "Des Moines", who says "Curtis may project like an ambidextrous barman purging his physical hang-ups, but the 'gothic dance music' he orchestrates..."

Oct 10: The Human League release their debut LP, "Reproduction"

Oct 11: The Damned release "Smash It Up"

Oct 13: Siouxsie & the Banshees and The Cure play Lewisham Odeon in London.

Oct 15: The Human League release "Empire State Human"

Oct 16: Psychedelic Furs release "We Love You" on Epic records

Oct 17: Killing Joke record their first John Peel session: Pssyche, Wardance and Malicious Boogie

Oct 22: Siouxsie collapses with hepatitis after a show at the Hammersmith Odeon.

Oct 23: Cabaret Voltaire release their first album, "Mix-Up"

Oct 26: The Cure release "Jumping Someone Else's Train" and are joined by Simon Gallup and Mathieu Hartley.

Oct 26: Killing Joke release their debut EP, featuring "Are you receiving?", "Turn to Red" and "Nervous System" on Malicious Damage records.

Oct 30: Adam & the Ants release their debut LP, "Dirk Wears White Sox"


Nov 7: The Damned release "Machine Gun Etiquette"

Nov 10: The Lemon Kittens release a 7-track 7" EP "Spoonfed & Writhing"

Nov 14: The Damned release "I Just Can't Be Happy Today"

Nov 15: Gary Numan releases "Complex"

Nov 17: Joy Division release "Transmission" on Factory Records

Nov 20: DAF make their British debut in Norwich

Nov 26: Joy Division record their second John Peel session: "Love Will tear Us Apart", "24 Hours", "Colony" and "The Sound of Music"


Dec 10: Throbbing Gristle release "20 Jazz Funk Greats"

Dec 26: Joy Division feature on the Earcom 2 compilation from Fast records with "Auto Suggestion" and "From Safety to Where?"