Overview · Events · Releases · Sessions


In many ways, 1981 continued what had begun in 1980. Whilst New Romantic bands were riding high in the charts, the second wave of goth bands were out there gigging, appearing on Peel sessions and releasing singles.

One of the most important events of the year was Abbo from UK Decay suggesting "gothic" as a tag for the emerging movement of bands in an interview with Steve Keaton of Sounds in February. Whilst it was another three years before the tag "goth" was to become common, Abbo was the first person to suggest "gothic" as a tag for the movement.

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)


Jan 8 Foetus Under Glass (ie Jim Thirlwell) releases his debut single, "OKFM"

Jan 8 The Virgin Prunes release their debut EP, "Twenty Tens"

Jan 11 Joy Division come second (after The Jam) in the NME reader's poll for 1980. Siouxsie wins Best Female Singer and The Jam win just about everything else.

Jan 12: Spandau Ballet release "The Freeze", which reaches No.17 in the charts.

Jan 14: Ultravox release "Vienna", which reaches No.2 in the charts.

Jan 15: The Cure broadcast another Peel session: Holy Hour, Primary, All Cats Are Grey and Forever.

Jan 22: New Order release "Ceremony"/"In A Lonely Place"

Jan 24: Clock DVA release two albums: "White Souls in Black Suits", a tape cassette on Industrial Records, and "Thirst", on Fetish records.

Jan 25: Sounds feature a special two-page debate on Oi!

Jan 26: Classix Nouveaux release Guilty/Night People.

Jan 30: Duran Duran release their debut single, "Planet Earth". In an interview with NME, John Taylor says "What we're doing is European white disco"

Jan 31: Stevo's label, Some Bizarre, relases the "Some Bizarre album". This is a roundup of various "Futurist" bands, all of whom have featured in Stevo's concert/club events or in his Futurist chart in Sounds. The bands are Illustration, Depeche Mode ("Photographic"), The The, B Movie, Jell, Blah Blah Blah, Blancmange ("Sad Days"), Soft Cell ("The Girl With The Patent Leather Face"), Neu Electric, Naked Lunch, The Fast set, and The Loved One. Talking to Sounds, Blancmange deny they're Futurists, but Depeche Mode say "OK, we're futurists. We've always been futurists... we never had anything to do with New Romantics..."

Jan 31: The Virgin Prunes ("Red Nettle"), Cabaret Voltaire and DAF appear amongst others on the NME C81 cassette compilation.


Feb 4: United Dairies release a compilation album, "Hoisting The Black Flag", featuring The Lemon Kittens ("Funky 7"), Whitehouse, Mental Aaardvarks, David Cross, Nurse With Wound, Truth Club and Hamilton/Duarte.

Feb 6: Charge release an LP called "Caged & Staged"

Feb 15: The Lemon Kittens release their second EP, "Cake Beast"

Feb 16: New Order record their first Peel session: Truth, Senses, Dreams Never End and ICB

Feb 17: Dead Or Alive record their first Peel session: Nowhere to Nowhere, Flowers, Running Wreleaseild, Number 11.

Feb 18: UK Decay release their fourth single, "Unexpected Guest"/"Dresden", on Fresh records.

Feb 18: In an interview with Steve Keaton from Sounds, Abbo inadvertently named the goth movement: "he said 'it's gonna be a movement' and we're going nah, we'll be gone in six months. He said you've got to get a name for it, it's not dance or alternative or New Pop or mod... and I remember saying 'we're into the whole Gothic thing'... and we sat there laughing about how we should have gargoyle shaped records and only play churches. Course he put it all in the interview.. for six months everything went quiet then when the album came out everyone was asking 'what's this Gothic thing you're into?' And it's a total joke!"

Feb 18: Siouxsie and the Banshees broadcast a new Peel session: Halloween, Voodoo Dolly, Into The Light, But Not Them.

Feb 20: Depeche Mode their debut single, "Dreaming of Me"/"Ice Machine". In an interview with Sounds, Dave Gahan denies being part of the Futurist scene.

Feb 27: Spandau Ballet release their debut album, "Journeys to Glory", which reaches No.5 in the charts.

Feb 27: Heaven 17 release their debut single, "(We Don't Need This Fascist) Groove Thang"


Mar 2: The Cure broadcast a session for Richard Skinner's Radio 1 Evening Show: The Funeral Party, A Drowning Man, Faith.

Mar 3: Visage release Mind of a Toy/We Move, which reaches No.13 in the charts.

Mar 5: The Meteors release a 4-track EP, "Meteor Madness"

Mar 7: Theatre of Hate release their first LP, "He Who Dares Wins". It's an "official booteg" recorded live in Leeds.

Mar 8: Soft Cell broadcast a session for Richard Skinner's Evening Show: Bedsitter, Chips on my Shoulder, Seedy Films, Youth, Entertain Me.

Mar 14: The Church release their second single, "The Unguarded Moment", which reaches No.22 in the Australian charts.

Mar 16: Adam & the Ants currently have two singles in the Top 20, "Ant Music" and "Kings of the Wild Frontier".

Mar 18: Fad Gadget releases "Make Room"/"Lady Shave".

Mar 20: Bauhaus release "Kick in the Eye" on Beggars Banquet.

Mar 21: Soft Cell release "Memorabilia"/"A Man Could Get Lost"

Mar 23: Spandau Ballet release Musclebound/Glow

Mar 26: The Cure release "Primary"/"Descent"

Mar 27: The Cramps release their "Psychedelic Jungle" LP.

Mar 28: SPK release their "Information Overload Unit" LP.

Mar 30: The Birthday Party release their "Prayers on Fire" LP


Apr 3: Theatre of Hate release "Rebel Without a Brain"/"My Own Invention"

Apr 5: The NME do a 3-page spread on the California punk scene where they mention a new phenomenon, "slamming in the pit" at the front of the stage: "You hurtle from side to side, elbows out, fists flailing and collide with the people around..."

Apr 9: Echo and the Bunnymen release their "Shine So Hard" EP.

Apr 10: Modern English release their debut LP, "Mesh And Lace" on 4AD.

Apr 13: The Church release their debut LP, "Of Skins And Hearts"

Apr 17: The Cure release "Faith"

Apr 17: The Human League release "Sound of the Crowd", their first chart hit (No.12).

Apr 20: Play Dead play the Rock Garden in London

Apr 21: Kraftwerk release "Pocket Calculator"

Apr 21: Classix Nouveaux release "Tokyo"

Apr 26: Culture Club are currently rehearsing under the name Sex Gang Children

Apr 27: Killing Joke broadcast a new Peel session: The Fall of Because, Tension, Butcher

Apr 28: The Birthday Party record another Peel session: Roland Around In That Stuff, Pleasure-Heads Must Burn, Loose, Release The Bats.

Apr 29: Adam & the Ants release "Stand And Deliver", which reaches No.1 in the charts.

Apr 29: Japan release The Art of Parties/Life without Buildings

Apr 30: DAF release a new LP called "Alles Ist Gut (All Is Good)"

Apr 30: Killing Joke release "Follow The Leaders"/"Tension".


May 1: Theatre of Hate, Modern English and The Birthday Party play the University of London Union.

May 3: 999/UK Decay/Department S/Meteors play at the Lyceum

May 4: The Sisters of Mercy make their live debut opening for the Thompson Twins at York University.

May 7: Classix Nouveaux release an album, "Night People"

May 8: The Cramps release "Goo Goo Muck"/"She Said"

May 8: UK Decay/The Dark/Play Dead play Brady's in Liverpool

May 11: Play Dead release their first single, "Poison Takes A Hold"/"Introduction"

May 11: Heaven 17 release "I'm Your Money"/"Are Everything"

May 15: Siouxsie and the Banshees release "Spellbound"/"Follow The Sun"

May 19: UK Decay/The Dark/Play Dead play the London Venue

May 22: DAF release "Der Mussolini"/"Der Rauber Und Der Prinz"

May 25: Dead Or Alive release "Number 11"/"The Name Game"

May 29: Echo and the Bunnymen release their second album, "Heaven Up Here"

May 29: Ultravox release "All Stood Still"/"Alles Klar"

May 30: Depeche Mode release their second single, "New Life"/"Shout"


Jun 2: The Lemon Kittens ("In Wooden Brackets") and The Virgin Prunes ("Third Secret") appear on an avant-garde compilation called "Perspectives and Distortions"

Jun 3: Throbbing Gristle release a new single "Discipline"

Jun 4: Clock DVA release a new single, "Four Hours (remix)"

Jun 4: Psychedelic Furs release "Pretty In Pink"

Jun 9: Duran Duran release their debut album.

Jun 9: Killing Joke record a Radio 1 Evening Show session for Richard Skinner: Tension, Unspeakable, Exit.

Jun 13: Nurse With Wound release their fourth album, "Insect And Individual Silenced"

Jun 15: Our Daughter's Wedding release their second single, "Lawnchairs"

Jun 16: Siouxsie And The Banshees broadcast a Radio 1 Evening Show session for Richard Skinner: Red Over White, Arabian Knights, Head Cut, Supernatural Thing

Jun 17: The Chameleons broadcast their first Peel session: The Fan And The Bellows, Looking Inwardly, Here Today, Things I Wish I'd Said

Jun 18: Killing Joke release their second LP, "What's This For?"

Jun 19: Siouxsie And The Banshees release their fourth album, "Ju Ju".

Jun 19: A Sounds review by Betty Page says: "this is the soundtrack of the unknown, hinting darkly at black magic, witchery, murder and death... the Banshees are wailing again, doom is at the door, creating... something intriguing, intense, brooding and powerfully atmospheric".

Jun 23: The Meteors broadcast a Peel session.

Jun 25: Cabaret Voltaire broadcast a Peel session.

Jun 26: Bauhaus release "The Passion of Lovers".

Jun 26: Bauhaus/Subway Sect/Birthday Party play the Lyceum in London. Johnny Waller reviews the gig for Sounds, and said Pete Murphy was "...a parasitic ghoul, robbing wardrobe and record collections rather than graves, but always with grace and style. This particular Rocky Horror Show is brash and trash, ludicrous and camp... Bauhaus' time is nigh"

Jun 27: Virgin Prunes release "In The Grey Light" EP.

Jun 29: Visage release "Visage (Dance Mix)"/"Second Steps"


Jul 5: Throbbing Gristle announce that they've split.

Jul 7: Kraftwerk release "Computer Love"/"The Model", which eventually reaches No.1 in the charts in February 1982.

Jul 10: Spandau Ballet release "Chant No.1 (We don't need this pressure on)"/"Feel The Chant", which reaches No.3 in the charts. In an interview for Trouser Press, Gary Kemp said: "What we wanna do is create a soundtrack for what goes on in our clubs... in fact the music is irrelevant; the people in the club are the most important thing... we're not into that band-playing scene..."

Jul 13: The Church release a double pack single in Australia: "Tear it all away"and 4 other tracks.

Jul 15: Charge release their vinyl debut, the "Kings Cross" EP.

Jul 16: Duran Duran release "Girls On Film"/"Faster Than Light"

Jul 16: The Meteors release a collaboration album, "The Meteors Meet Screaming Lord Sutch"

Jul 18: Soft Cell release "Tainted Love"/"Where Did Our Love Go"

Jul 18: You've Got Foetus On Your Breath release "Wash It All Off"/"Today I Started Slogging Again"

Jul 20: Danse Society release their debut single, "Clock"/"Continent". Mick Sinclair reviewed it in Sounds: "Weird looking quads from Barnsley, veering towards Bauhaus-ian mock horror but held on course by pinpoint drumming and funkish bassing."

Jul 21: Theatre of Hate release "Nero"/"Incinerator"

Jul 24: Siouxsie And The Banshees release "Arabian Knights"/"Supernatural Thing"

Jul 28: Einsturzende Neubauten release a double 7" pack featuring "Kalte Sterne" and 4 other songs.

Jul 30: The Human League release "Love Action"/"Hard Times", which reaches No.3 in the charts.

Jul 31: The Birthday Party release "Release The Bats"/"Blastoff" on 4AD.

Jul 31: Modern English release "Smiles And Laughter"/"Mesh And Lace"


Aug 5: UK Decay broadcast a new Peel session: Last In The House Of Flames, Stage Struck, Glass Ice, Duel.

Aug 7: US group 45 Grave release their debut single, "Black Cross"/"Wax"

Aug 14: Ultravox release "The Thin Wall"

Aug 17: Cabaret Voltaire release a new LP, "Red Mecca"

Aug 20: OMD release a new single, "Souvenir", which reaches No.3 in the charts.

Aug 21: Gary Numan releases a new single, "She's Got Claws".

Aug 24: Theatre of Hate broadcast a second Peel session: Love Is A Ghost, Conquistador, Do You Believe In The Westworld, Propaganda.

Aug 30: The Chameleons get a half-page write-up in the NME.

Aug 31: The Gun Club release an album, "Fire Of Love"


Sep 4: Adam & the Ants release "Prince Charming"/"Christian D'or", which reaches No.1 in the charts.

Sep 5: Gary Numan releases a new LP, "Dance", which has the music press accusing him of jumping on the New Romantic bandwagon rather too late.

Sep 7: Depeche Mode release their third single, "Just Can't Get Enough"/"Any Second Now", which reaches No.3 in the charts.

Sep 11: Ultravox release a new LP, "Rage In Eden"

Sep 12: The Cramps release "The Crusher"/"Save It"

Sep 14: The Meteors release "The Crazed"/"Attack of the Zorch Men"

Sep 18: Heaven 17 release their debut LP, "Penthouse And Pavement"

Sep 24: Wall of Voodoo release their first LP, "Dark Continent"

Sep 25: The Creatures (ie Siouxsie and Budgie) release a double single featuring "Mad eyed Screamer" and 4 other tracks.

Sep 25: New Order release "Everything's Gone Green"/"Procession" on 7".

Sep 26: The Lemon Kittens are reviewed live in Sounds by Johnny Waller: "Visually the band are equally bizarre. All four of them being covered head to toe in psychedelic body paint, though out moded laws of propriety meant that only vocalist Danielle was wholly naked on stage. Danielle Dax, in fact (even forgetting her obvious charms) has a remarkably compelling style."

Sep 29: Throbbing Gristle release "Greatest Hits (entertainment through pain)"

Sep 30: The Virgin Prunes release "A New Form Of Beauty: 1"


Oct 3: The Cure release "Charlotte Sometimes"/"Splintered In Her Head"

Oct 3: UK Decay release "Sexual"/"Twist In The Tale"

Oct 13: Modern English broadcast a new Peel session: Someone's Calling, Face of Wood and Being John Peeled

Oct 15: Joy Division posthumously release "Still"

Oct 16: Bauhaus release "Mask", their second LP.

Oct 16: The Human League release "Dare"

Oct 22: The Sound release a new LP, "From the Lion's Mouth"

Oct 23: UK Decay release their debut LP, "For Madmen Only"

Oct 29: Soft Cell release "Bedsitter"/"Faculty Girls", which reaches No.4 in the charts.

Oct 30: Ultravox release "The Voice"/"Paths and Angles", which reaches No.16

Oct 30: OMD release an LP, "Architecture and Morality"


Nov 4: Depeche Mode release their debut LP, "Speak and Spell". Betty Page reviews it in Sounds: "...trendy electro-disco beats go hand in hand with choirboy melodies..."

Nov 5: The Meteors record a session for Kid Jensen's Radio 1 Evening Show.

Nov 6: Japan release "Visions of China"/"Swing"

Nov 7: The Virgin Prunes release "A New Form Of Beauty: 2"

Nov 9: Fad Gadget releases his second album, "Incontinent"

Nov 11: 45 Grave and Christian Death feature on an American compilation LP, "Hell Comes To Your House"

Nov 13: Japan release a new LP, "Tin Drum"

Nov 14: New Order release their first LP, "Movement", which reaches No.30 in the LP charts.

Nov 15: "Deaf", an LP by You've Got Foetus On Your Breath, is released in the UK by Rough Trade a month after its release in America.

Nov 16: Duran Duran release a new single, "MY Own Way"

Nov 20: The Human League release "Don't You Want Me Baby"/"Seconds", which reaches No.1 in both the UK and US charts

Nov 20: Adam & the Ants release a new LP, "Prince Charming"

Nov 22: In a two-page interview with Paul Morley in the NME, Robert Smith says: "I know we've failed because The Cure haven't built up something as powerful as Joy Division that is strong enough to resist the narrow attacks of grayness and introversion... it hasn't proved that bad... we're still here".

Nov 23: Soft Cell release their debut LP, "Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret"

Nov 25: Play Dead release their second single, "TV Eye"/"Final Epitaph"

Nov 30: Cabaret Voltaire release "Eddie's Out"/Walls of Jericho"

Nov 30: Danse Society broadcast their first Peel session: Sanity Career, We're So Happy, Woman's Own, Love as a Positive Narcotic

Nov 30: Adam & the Ants release "Ant Rap"/"Friends"


Dec 2: Danse Society release a 3-track EP: "There Is No Shame In Death"/"Dolphins"/These Frayed Edges"

Dec 4: Siouxsie And the Banshees release a compilation LP of their singles to date, "Once Upon A Time: The Singles"

Dec 9: Theatre of Hate release "Do You Believe in the Westworld"/"Propaganda"

Dec 10: The Birthday Party broadcast a Peel session: She's Hit, Bully Bones, Big Jessu Trash Can, Six Inch Gold Blade

Dec 14: Southern Death Cult get their first review in the major music press, by Steve Keaton of Sounds: "Supporting were a remarkable new band from darkest Bradford called Sudden Death Cult [sic]"... The singer is weird, really weird. His face.. is hidden beneath ana avalanche of red and black hair and rabbit skin pom-poms and he wardances around the stage in authentic B-movie Western style.. The music reflects the heavy Indian motifs.. it's dense, dark and vaguely primitive. Sort of Bow Wow Wow without the frills.. They lope with confidence through numbers like "Apache" and "Moya" whilst the audience stand bemused."

Dec 16: Killing Joke broadcast their fourth Peel session: The Hum, Empire Song, We Have Joy, Chop Chop.

Dec 17: Xmal Deutschland release "Schwarze Welt"/"Die wolken"/"Gross stadtindianer"

Dec 12: New Order release the 12" of "Everything's Gone Green", backed with "Cries And Whispers"/"Mesh"

Dec 30: Gene Loves Jezebel play their first ever gig under that name, at the London Institute of Contemporary Arts, having previously played a few dates as Slav Arian.

Dec 31: In the NME Reader's Polls, Siouxsie wins "Best Female Singer", The Jam win "Best Group", "Heaven Up Here" wins album of the year, "Ghost Town wins "Single of the Year", Paul Weller wins "Most Wonderful Person" and Adam Ant wins "Creep of the Year"