- Robert Smith (musician)
Infobox musical artist
Name = Robert Smith
Img_capt = Robert Smith playing live at The
Singapore Indoor Stadium
Background = solo_singer
Birth_name = Robert James Smith
Born = Birth date and age|1959|4|21
Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Piano, Bass, Flute, Violin, Trumpet
Gothic rock Alternative rock
Post-punk Punk rock
Musician, songwriter, producer
Years_active = 1976 - present
The Cure Siouxsie & the Banshees The Glove Easy Cure
URL = http://www.thecure.com/
Fender Jazzmaster Fender Bass VI
Schecter UltraCure Signature
Robert James Smith (born
April 21, 1959in Blackpool) is an English guitarist, vocalistand songwriter, and has been the lead singer of rock band The Curesince its founding in 1976. NY Rock calls him " pop culture's unkempt poster childof doom and gloom", and describes his songs as "somber introspection over lush, brooding guitars". [http://www.nyrock.com/interviews/2000/cure.htm Robert Smith on Craziness, Commercialism and Cure by Numbers (NY Rock Interview) ] ] Smith is a multi-instrumentalistand can play guitar, bass guitar, flute, double bass, keyboard, violin, and trumpet.
Role in The Cure
Smith has written or co-written the bulk of The Cure's music and lyrics in a career spanning 30 years. When the Cure was first formed, Smith did not intend to become the lead vocalist; he only began singing after the original singer left and the group could not find a suitable vocalist. During the late 1970s and into the '80s, Smith composed some of The Cure's songs on a
Hammond organ, and recorded a complete demo of the song "10:15 Saturday Night".
Smith is the only member of the band who has stayed on from the beginning. With Lol Tolhurst, he wrote songs such as singles "Lovecats," "Let's Go to Bed", and "The Walk". He also wrote the album "The Top" between stints as
Siouxsie and the Banshees' guitarist. Smith has co-produced most of the band's material.
Robert Smith is the third of four children born to Alex and Rita Smith. His siblings are Richard, Margaret and Janet. Janet is married to
Porl Thompson, the "second" guitarist of The Cure; he and Smith switch between playing lead and rhythm guitars.
Smith was raised as a Catholic and went to Notre Dame Middle School and St. Wilfrid's Comprehensive School in
Crawley. He was an accomplished student who maintained high marks, but after he began playing guitar at the age of 11 his primary focus quickly became his music. He was influenced by The Beatles, Nick Drake, Jimi Hendrix, The Stranglers, The Ink Spotsand David Bowie.
Smith met Mary Poole in school when he was 14 years old. They married in 1988. Smith wrote one of the Cure's signature compositions, "Lovesong", as a wedding present to his wife.
=Stage persona and
Smith helped popularize the "goth" style of dress with his trademark smeared red lipstick and messy black hair, black clothes, and sneakers, a look that he began sporting in the early 1980s. According to
Siouxsie and the Bansheesbassist Steven Severin, Smith first used Siouxsie Sioux's lipstick after using opium. However, Smith claims that he has worn make-up since he was young. He was also quoted as saying, "It's so pitiful when 'goth' is still tagged onto the name The Cure." [cite web|url=http://stereogum.com/archives/robert-smith-not-goth-has-writers-block_004111.html|title=Robert Smith: Not Goth, Has Writer's Block |accessdate=2008-06-28|date=2006-06-12|publisher=Stereogum]
His songwriting for the band's early albums — particularly "Faith", "Pornography", and the later album "
Disintegration" — centered around themes of depression, loneliness, and isolation. The sombre mood of these early albums, along with Smith's onstage persona, cemented the band's "gothic" image.
The band's aesthetic went from gloomy to
psychedelicbeginning with the album "The Top". In 1986, Smith further altered his image by appearing onstage and in press photos sporting short spiky hair and polo shirts (this can be seen in "In Orange ", a concert in the south of France released on video 1987).
Although Smith's public persona suggests a depressed image, he has said that his songs do not convey how he feels all, or even most, of the time.:"At the time we wrote "Disintegration"...it's just about what I was doing really, how I felt. But I'm not like that all the time. That's the difficulty of writing songs that are a bit depressing. People think you're like that all the time, but I don't think that. I just usually write when I'm depressed." [http://imaginaryboys.altervista.org/english/cure/articles/tib_holyhour.htm The Holy Hour] a July 1989 interview for the French fanzine "Three Imaginary Boys"] "
In the band's earliest period, Smith used a soft vocal style on the demos of "10:15 Saturday Night" and "Boys Don't Cry" and the frenetic punk style of "I Just Need Myself". Both of those styles were left behind as a third emerged during the production of the band's debut album, "
Three Imaginary Boys". This new sound, which can be heard on most of the final versions of songs from that period, became the signature Smith sound, which he generally employed until the album " Bloodflowers". Around that time, Smith said he wanted to improve his singing, the opposite of his goal in 1984; he remarked in the documentary "Ten Imaginary Years" that he tried to sing badly for the album "The Top".
Smith's songwriting has shown a range of styles and themes over the years. Early songs incorporated literary paraphrase (the reference to Camus' novel "L'Etranger" in "
Killing an Arab"), punk metafiction("So What") surrealism("Accuracy"), straight-forward rock/pop ("Boys Don't Cry," "I'm Cold"), and poetic mood pieces ("Another Day" and "Fire in Cairo"). In subsequent decades, Smith explored more poetic moods.
Smith's songwriting took a more pop-oriented turn following "Pornography". Even Smith's seemingly upbeat tracks often contain dark themes, however; the single "In Between Days," for example, contrasts a bouncy pop-rock beat with lyrics about sadness and heartbreak.
In an interview in 2000, Smith said that "...there is one particular kind of music, an atmospheric type of music, that I enjoy making with the Cure. I enjoy it a lot more than any other kind of sound. When Smith was asked about the 'sound' of his songwriting, Smith said that he did not "...think there is such a thing as a typical Cure sound. I think there are various Cure sounds from different periods and different line-ups."
Smith has also been involved in other musical projects, including a stint with Siouxsie & the Banshees and a
side projectwith Steven Severin called The Glove. He has also contributed to a number of independent projects and performances, among them the B-side of the "Faith" cassette, a 30-minute instrumental track from a movie project, " Carnage Visors". He was responsible for the release of two singles by Crawley based artists in the early 80's: "Cult Hero" a local postman and the "Obtainers" who were two local school kids.
In 1980, Smith sang backing vocals on the song "The Affectionate Punch", by The Associates, on their 1980 debut album with the same title. At the time, The Associates were also signed to Fiction Records. The Cure song, "Cut Here", is about The Associates' singer,
Billy MacKenzie's suicide.
In 1998, Smith formed a "one-off" side project with
Jason Cooperand Reeves Gabrelsunder the name COGASM, releasing the track "A Sign From God" for the movie Orgazmo.
In 2000, Smith collaborated on the track 'Yesterday's Gone' with David Bowie side man Reeves Gabrels on his solo album "Ulysses (Della Notte)".
In 2003, Smith collaborated with the
pop punkband Blink-182on the track " All of This" off their self-titled album. In 2004, Blank & Jonesremixed "A Forest" featuring Smith on vocals. That year, he also provided vocals for Junior Jackfor the club hit "Da Hype".
In 2004, he stood in as one of three guest presenters for
John Peelon BBC Radio 1, a week before Peel's death. In November, he joined Placebo onstage at their Wembley arena gig to sing that band's hit song "Without You I'm Nothing", as well as the Cure staple "Boys Don't Cry." He also co-wrote and supplied vocals for the Tweaker song "Truth Is." That same year, Smith collaborated again with Junior Jack on a remix of "Da Hype", featured on the album "Trust It". He was also featured as a vocalist and co-writer on JunkieXL's "Perfect Blue Sky."
In 2005, Smith teamed up with
Billy Corgan, lead singer and lead guitarist of both The Smashing Pumpkinsand Zwan, to do a cover of the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody" on Corgan's first solo release, " TheFutureEmbrace".
In 2006, Smith worked with
Faithlesson a remix of the Cure's "Lullaby" on the track " Spiders, Crocodiles& Kryptonite" from the album " To All New Arrivals".
In 2007, Smith made a guest appearance in the
MTV Unpluggedperformance of the alternative band Korn, in which he and Korn's frontman Jonathan Davissang a mixed version of the songs "In Between Days" and "Make Me Bad".
Later that year, Robert Smith was featured on a single called "Please" from
Paul Hartnoll's album, " The Ideal Condition". The single is available as a 7", a 12" and as a CD single through the Kids label. [ [http://www.side-line.com/news_comments.php?id=21455_0_2_0_C Robert Smith (The Cure) goes dance on a single with Orbital musician] ]
The Cure discographyfrom 1976 (start) to present"
→ "See The Glove discography in 1983 (only album)"
iouxsie & the Banshees
* "Nocturne" (1983)
For over two decades, Smith has suggested that he may do a solo album. Smith has been widely credited with writing the songs "Homesick" and "Untitled" as solo tracks; Smith denied this, crediting those songs to other members:
:"I didn't write "Homesick" and I didn't write the music too. It's another misconception. […] Out of the 12 songs on the CD, I think I only wrote six musically... "Untitled"... (to Simon [Gallup] ) You wrote that one ? ...It was Roger [O'Donnell] . So it [("Disintegration")] couldn't have been a solo album and if I'd done on my own it wouldn't have sounded anything like The Cure anyway apart from my own voice. "The Top" album could have been a solo album but it's not true the way we worked in studio […] "
For the 2004 Curiosa festival, Smith personally selected 11 bands to open for The Cure. It began with a concert in
West Palm Beach, Floridaon July 24 and ended in Sacramento, Californiaon August 29. Those bands included Interpol, The Rapture, and Mogwai. The concert had two stages, with the headlining bands on the main stage and the lesser known bands on the second stage. Bands and artists on the second stage changed throughout the tour, and included Muse, Cursive, Head Automatica, Thursday, Scarling., The Cooper Temple Clause, and Melissa Auf der Maur.
Smith has an extensive range of guitars with a variety of different sounds for different songs and eras of The Cure. His collection includes a Gretsch Silver Falcon 6136SL, a Gibson Chet Atkins semi-acoustic, a '60s
Fender Jazzmaster, a Fender Telecaster, a '60s Fender Bass VI, a '60s Mosrite Ventures, a '60s Coral Sitar, a TakamineEN28C acoustic, a Takamine 12-string acoustic, an Aria Sandpiper acoustic, an OvationL756 12-string acoustic, a Gretsch Black Falcon, a Gretsch Red Tennessee Rose, a Guild 12-string acoustic, a Gibson Reverse Firebird, Mosrite joe maphis, and a 1963 National "Valco" Val Pro 88 (as seen on the cover of the trilogy DVD, and in the VHS Play Out). Additionally, he plays his own signature model guitar, the Ultracure, in production by Schecter Guitar Research.
*Smith voiced himself in "
Mecha-Streisand", an episode of " South Park" in which he has superpowers and manifests himself as a monster similar to "Mothra," where he defeats Barbra Streisandin a battle. Series co-creator Trey Parkeris a big fan of The Cure. [http://spschat.com/SPS1Commentary/DiscFive/01%20-%20Mecha-Streisand.mp3]
The Mighty Boosh" episode " Nanageddon", Smith's tears are mentioned as an ingredient for the most powerful hairspray known to man (Goth Juice).
*Smith has expressed his distaste for
Morrissey(lead singer of The Smiths), stating that "if Morrissey says don't eat meat, then I'll eat meat because I hate Morrissey." [ [http://www.compsoc.man.ac.uk/~moz/faq/faqtrivi.htm "Does Robert Smith of The Cure hate Morrissey?"] ] Although Lol Tolhursthas stated that he likes Morrissey's music, he also said that Smith was justified in his ire as their rivalry began when Morrissey made "a very uncalled for remark concerning Robert in the English press." [http://www.levinhurst.com/cgi/Blah/Blah.pl?b=cc,m=1122314484]
Blink-182played a cover of "A Letter To Elise" at the MTV ICON ceremony, in tribute to Smith.
*Smith provides backing vocals to
Billy Corgan's cover of "To Love Somebody" by the Bee Gees from his solo album TheFutureEmbrace (2005). Corgan and his band The Smashing Pumpkins are fans of The Cure and a cover of 'A Night Like This' appears as a B-side to the single of 'Bullet With Butterfly Wings', also being included in 'The Aeroplane Flies High' box set.
*He has also done a voice cameo appearance as a character on the
Cartoon Networkshow " Courage The Cowardly Dog".
*In "Take It Like a Man," the
autobiographyof Boy George, Boy George said he was saddened when Robert Smith ridiculed the music of Culture Club. Boy George then referred to Robert Smith as "a blob."
List of number-one dance hits (United States)
List of artists who reached number one on the US Dance chart
* [http://www.picturesofyou.us/members/robert.htm Robert at Pictures of You]
* [http://www.stereowarning.com Robert Smith interview at Stereo Warning]
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