#996: High by The Cure
Robert James Smith was born in Blackpool, UK, in 1959. At the age of eleven he began to play guitar and made music his primary focus. Over time he learned to play rhythm guitar, six-string bass and keyboards. Michael Stephen Dempsey born in 1958 in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia. His family moved to Surrey, UK, in 1961. From 1970 to 1972 he went to Notre Dame Middle School with Robert Smith, Marc Ceccagno (lead guitar) and Lol Tolhurst. In 1972 the four performed as a band they named The Obelisk. Dempsey, a bass player, was a founding member of Malice in 1976 and remained with the band as it morphed into The Cure, leaving in 1979. Laurence Andrew “Lol” Tolhurst was born in 1959 in Surrey, UK. He met Robert Smith at St. Francis Primary School. He co-founded Malice with Robert Smith and was continuously with The Cure from 1976 to 1989 Tolhurst played drums and keyboards. Paul “Porl” Stephen Thompson was born in Surrey, UK, in 1957. He learned to play the six-string bass, lead guitar, keyboards and saxophone. He was also an original member of the band from 1976-1978. He left The Cure to go to art school, but rejoined them from 1983 to 1994.
Robert Smith formed Malice in 1976 with Martin Creasy as the lead vocalist. They changed their name to The Easy Cure in January 1977, based on a song written by band member Lol Tolhurst. When they couldn’t find a lead vocalist to replace Creasy, Robert Smith became the lead singer. The band shortened their name to The Cure within a year. Robert Smith is the only continuous member of The Cure since its formation.
In 1979 the Cure released their debut single titled “Killing the Arab”. The single’s title was owed to a scene in the Albert Camus novel, L’Étranger, where an Arab man (who is the brother of the mistress of Raymond Sintès) is shot and killed by Meursault on a beach in Algiers. Meursault is estranged from society due to his indifference. The novel in English was titled The Stranger. At the time some radio DJs in America thought the song was an Islamophobic anthem. Bandmates in the Cure were perplexed to discover Americans in general didn’t know Camus’ novel or the central incident in the plot.
There were a number of lineup changes in the band and in 1979 Simon Jonathan Gallup joined the Cure until 1982. He rejoined the band in 1985 and has remained with them ever since. Gallup was born Surrey, UK, in 1960. He was working in a plastics factory in the mid-70’s when he formed several punk bands, including the Magazine Spies. This put Gallup on the radar due to his bass and keyboard talents. He joined The Cure in 1979 but quit in May 1982 after he and Robert Smith got into a fist fight over a bar tab in Strasbourg, France. Gallup formed Fools Dance for several years before reuniting with The Cure in 1985.
In 1980 The Cure had their first charting single on the UK singles chart titled “A Forest”, peaking at #31. They had their first Top Ten single in the UK and Australia in 1983 titled “The Love Cats.” The Guardian‘s Dorian Linskey writes, “Smith joined Siouxsie and the Banshees and planned to use the Cure as a vehicle for “sort of stupid” pop songs such as ‘The Lovecats’ – until the stupid songs became hits.”
Drummer, Boris Peter Bransby Williams was born in Versailles, France, in 1957. In 1982 he was a session musician for the Thompson Twins. He joined The Cure in 1984, remaining with them until 1994. In 1985 The Cure had a Top Ten hit in both Ireland and Australia with “Close To Me”. And in 1986 “Boys Don’t Cry” climbed into the Top Ten in New Zealand and Ireland. In 1987 “Why Can’t I Be You?” peaked at #5 in Spain, and in 1988 the single “Hot, Hot, Hot” also made the Top Ten in Spain.
The band’s 1989 album, Disintegration, proved to be their breakout release in North America where the disc went double-platinum. And all four single releases made the Top Ten somewhere internationally. “Lullaby” made the Top Ten in the UK, Austria, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand and Spain. “Fascination Street” made it to #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart for seven weeks beginning on May 6, 1989. “Lovesong” peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and “Pictures Of You” climbed to #9 on the Irish singles chart.
Perry Archangelo Bamonte was born in London, UK, in 1960. He joined The Cure in 1990. That year the band released a compilation album titled Mixed Up. It featured two singles, “Never Enough” and “Close To Me”, which both made the Top Ten in Ireland. In 1992 The Cure continued their string of hits with the release of their album Wish. From the album came three singles, “Friday I’m In Love”, “A Letter To Elsie” and “High”.
Internationally, “High” climbed to #4 in New Zealand, #5 in Australia, #6 in Ireland and #8 in the UK. Top 40 station KROQ in Los Angeles placed “High” at #32 for their year-end Top 100 songs of the year. The song also made the Top 30 on Top 40 station WHTZ in New York City. However, it was left to Vancouver to post the highest chart position for the song in North America on a Top 40 station. CKLG in Vancouver had “High” reach #8 in June 1992.
“High” was written by the current members of The Cure in 1992: Perry Bamonte, Simon Gallup, Robert Smith, Porl Thompson and Boris Williams. The song is about the thrill of being in relationship with someone who you care so deeply about you want to hold them tight in your arms forever. The lyrics tell of numbers of endearing qualities the narrator enjoys in their female partner. And all the happiness might have been lost, sine the narrator of the song admits “I could have let you go” and restates the choice point in singing “I could have let you leave.” These lines hint at a time in the past when their were relationship challenges that made continuing a problem for at least one of the partners. We don’t know why the relationship was on the rocks. But it turned a corner. Now they are high on the relationship and enjoying the love they share.
Since 1992 The Cure have released four more studio albums, making thirteen in total. While they have continued to sell records internationally, it has been in Spain where the band has had the most success on the singles chart. The Cure have had six more Top Ten hits on the Spanish singles chart. This includes three #1 songs in 2008.
In 1994 Porl Thompson left The Cure to join Led Zeppelin and touring with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant in 1995. Boris Williams rejoined the Cure to record an acoustic album in 2001. Meanwhile, Porl Thompson rejoined The Cure from 2005 to 2010. Since then he has left the limelight and focused on painting. In 2011 Lol Tolhurst rejoined The Cure to join them on that years concert tour.
Over the decades The Cure has been nominated for many awards, including two Grammy Awards for Best Alternative Album: Wish (1993) and Bloodflowers (2001). The band has won six music industry awards including two Brit Awards.
In February 2018 it was announced that Robert Smith would curate the 25th anniversary of the ten-day Meltdown Festival in London in mid-June. Music critic Dorian Linskey writes that currently “the Cure are predominately a live act, renowned for their epic, multi-encore shows. In Mexico City, as a 53rd-birthday treat, Smith tried to break Bruce Springsteen’s record of 4hr 6min, but miscalculated and fell three minutes short.”
In 2019 the Cure have 28 concert dates between May 24 and August 23. They will perform in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. This will be their 27th concert tour since 1979.
April 19, 2019
Dorian Lynskey, “The Cure’s Robert Smith: ‘I was Very Optimistic When I was Young – Now I’m the Opposite’,” Guardian, June 7, 2018.
Laura Snapes, “The Cure’s Robert Smith to Curate 2018 Meltdown Festival,” Guardian, February 6, 2018.
“The Stranger (Camus novel),” Wikipedia.org.
“The Cure Shows,” the Cure.com.
Graham Reid, “Robert Smith of The Cure Interviewed (2001): Hits and the One That Missed Out,” Elsewhere, New Zealand, February 6, 2008.
Richard Carman, Robert Smith: The Cure, and Wishful Thinking, Independent Music Press, 2005.
Jeff Apter, Never Enough: The Story of The Cure, Omnibus Press, 2006.
Jordan Riefe, “The Cure Guitarist Pearl Thompson’s Art Goes on Display,” Hollywood Reporter, March 5, 2015.
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