10 Surprising Facts About Depeche Mode

L to R: Depeche Mode members Martin Gore, Dave Gahan, Alan Wilder, and Andrew Fletcher in Berlin in July 1984.
L to R: Depeche Mode members Martin Gore, Dave Gahan, Alan Wilder, and Andrew Fletcher in Berlin in July 1984.
Michael Putland/Getty Images

Few bands inspire faith and devotion like Depeche Mode. Over a career spanning four decades, the boys from Basildon, England, have redefined what electronic music can look and sound like. With albums like 1987’s Music for the Masses and 1990’s blockbuster Violator, Depeche Mode forged a dark, sexy, mature synth-pop sound that has rocked stadiums across the globe. The 2019 documentary Spirits in the Forest shows just how deep a mark the band has left on diehard fans. For relative newcomers, here are 10 things you might now know about Depeche Mode.

1. Depeche Mode got their name from a French fashion magazine.

The name Depeche Mode carries a mysterious air of artsy European sophistication. But it’s not as exotic as you may think. Lead singer Dave Gahan cribbed the moniker from a French fashion magazine. Many fans believe Depeche Mode translates to “fast fashion,” but it’s apparently closer to "fashion news" or "fashion update."

2. Martin Gore got in the band because he owned the right gear.

Photo of Depeche Mode's Martin Gore in West Berlin in July 1984.
Martin Gore of Depeche Mode photographed in West Berlin in July 1984.
Michael Putland/Getty Images

There was a simple reason Vince Clark tapped Martin Gore to join Composition of Sound, the group that would become Depeche Mode: Gore owned a Yamaha CS5 synthesizer. “That’s why we got him in—because he had a synth, not for any other reason; certainly not for his outgoing personality!” Clarke said.

3. Depeche Mode underwent a major lineup change after their first album.

The original Depeche Mode lineup featured Dave Gahan, Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher, and Vince Clarke, the group’s primary songwriter. Clarke penned nine of the 11 songs on 1981's Speak & Spell, the band's debut album, including the international hit “Just Can’t Get Enough.” Clarke quit that same year, leaving Gore to carry the songwriting burden.

4. Vince Clarke had a pretty good second (and third) act.

After leaving Depeche Mode in 1981, Clarke teamed up with powerhouse singer Alison Moyet to form Yazoo (or Yaz, as they were known in America). That soulful synth-pop duo released two albums and scored three top 5 hits in the UK including “Only You,” a song Clarke reportedly offered to Depeche Mode. In 1985, Clarke linked up with Andy Bell to form Erasure, an electronic duo that has scored 35 top 40 hits in the UK as of 2019. In America, Erasure is best known for the late '80s hits "Chains of Love" and "A Little Respect."

5. It took America a long time to catch on to Depeche Mode.

Depeche Mode scored a number of U.S. dance hits in the early ‘80s, but it wasn’t until 1985’s “People Are People” that mainstream American audiences finally warmed to these leather-clad synth-popsters. The anthemic plea for tolerance reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained the band's biggest American pop hit until “Personal Jesus” in 1989.

6. Everyone in Depeche Mode has a specific job—sort of.

Photo of Depeche Mode's Andy Fletcher, Martin Gore, David Gahan, and Alan Wilder backstage at Madison Square Garden in 1987.
L to R: Depeche Mode's Andy Fletcher, Martin Gore, David Gahan, and Alan Wilder backstage at Madison Square Garden in 1987.
Michel Delsol/Getty Images

In the 1989 documentary 101, keyboardist Andy Fletcher sums up the band like this: “Martin’s the songwriter, Alan’s the good musician, Dave’s the vocalist, and I bum around.” Fletcher may have been selling himself short—he apparently handles a lot of behind-the-scenes managerial duties—but from 1982 through 1995, that was the basic division of labor. Martin Gore wrote the songs, classically trained keyboardist Alan Wilder helped to shape them, and Dave Gahan sang them. Since Wilder’s departure in 1995, Depeche Mode has essentially been a trio, and beginning with 2005’s Playing the Angel, Gahan has co-written three songs per album.

7. Depeche Mode sold out the Rose Bowl before a lot of people knew who they were.

On June 18, 1988, Depeche Mode wrapped up their Music for the Masses Tour with sold-out performance at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Paid attendance was 60,453. It was a major moment in the band’s career, especially since they’d only scored one Top 40 hit in America up to that point. Much of Depeche Mode's popularity in Southern California was due to KROQ, the pioneering L.A. radio station that championed alternative music in the ‘80s. Filmmaker D. A. Pennebaker, who famously documented Bob Dylan in the ‘60s, captured the concert for the 1989 documentary 101.

8. Depeche Mode's signature song was inspired by Elvis and his missus.

“Personal Jesus” isn’t Depeche Mode’s biggest American hit. That would be “Enjoy the Silence,” also off the Violator album. But thanks to covers by Johnny Cash and Marilyn Manson, “Personal Jesus” is arguably their most famous. Gore’s lyrics were inspired by Priscilla Presley’s 1985 memoir Elvis and Me. “It’s about how Elvis was her man and her mentor and how often that happens in love relationships; how everybody’s heart is like a god in some way,” Gore told SPIN. “We play these god-like parts for people but no one is perfect, and that’s not a very balanced view of someone, is it?”

9. Dave Gahan nearly became a rock ‘n’ roll casualty.

In the mid-’90s, Dave Gahan became enamored of the burgeoning alternative rock scene in L.A. He grew his hair long and developed a serious drug problem that nearly claimed his life on more than one occasion. In 1995, he attempted suicide by slashing his wrists, and the following year, he overdosed on a speedball—cocaine and heroin—at the Sunset Marquis Hotel. His heart stopped for two minutes, and he felt his soul leave his body. Fortunately, the courts allowed him to pick drug treatment over jail, and he’s been clean ever since.

10. Depeche Mode are huge in Eastern Europe.

Photo of Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode performing at Brooklyn's Barclays Center on June 6, 2018
Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode performs at Brooklyn's Barclays Center on June 6, 2018.
Taylor Hill/Getty Images

From their first shows in Hungary and Poland in 1985, Depeche Mode has enjoyed a special relationship with Eastern Europe. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, when it was illegal to own Western music, fans behind the Iron Curtain somehow got their hands on Depeche Mode tapes and even copied the band’s fashions. According to some, the appeal lies in the melancholic, industrial nature of Depeche Mode’s music. The fact that it was banned made it all the more enticing to young people beginning to question authority. Eastern Europe’s love affair with The Mode continues to this day: One of the six superfans profiled in 2019’s Spirit In the Forest hails from Romania.

Rare, Early Portraits of Jim Morrison and The Doors Are Headed to Auction

Jim Morrison of The Doors photographed in 1968.
Jim Morrison of The Doors photographed in 1968.
Michael Montfort, Swann Auction Galleries

The Doors left a bluesy mark on rock ’n’ roll music that lasted long after the tragic death of frontman Jim Morrison at age 27. But because the band only existed for about six years—in a pre-smartphone era, no less—there isn’t a ton of behind-the-scenes content to tell the story of Morrison’s bright, albeit brief, career.

Come February 25, nine rare photos of Morrison from The Doors’ first European tour in 1968 will end up in the hands of one fortunate fan. Swann Auction Galleries is selling them as part of their “Classic and Contemporary Photographs” auction, which also includes portraits of early Hollywood stars like Joan Crawford, John Barrymore, and Veronica Lake.

The black and white photographs of Morrison were taken by German-born photojournalist Michael Montfort when the band performed in Frankfurt, Germany that September, and they manage to capture the strangely hazy, somewhat intense nature of the legendary lead singer. In one, Morrison looks right into the camera while leaning against a church pulpit; in another, he lies on the stage clutching the microphone with his back turned to the audience; in yet another, a sweat-drenched Morrison holds a leather jacket in one hand and makes a peace sign with the other.

jim morrison of the doors lying onstage
The Doors' Jim Morrison takes a break onstage during a Frankfurt concert in September 1968.
Michael Montfort, Swann Auction Galleries

The Doors played early hits like “Light My Fire” and “Break on Through (To the Other Side)” to raucous, devoted crowds across Europe, but the tour wasn’t without its calamities, due largely to Morrison’s substance abuse. After leaving Frankfurt, the band stopped to perform a show in Amsterdam, where a drug-addled Morrison collapsed on stage during Jefferson Airplane’s opening set. He was immediately taken to a hospital, and keyboard player Ray Manzarek stepped in as lead singer that night. Morrison finished the tour, but his drug addiction would continue to plague him until he died of a (suspected) overdose in Paris in 1971.

jim morrison the doors backstage photo
A messy-haired Morrison flashes a peace sign in 1968.
Michael Montfort, Swann Auction Galleries

The collection of nine photos is expected to fetch between $1500 and $2500, and you can place a bid here.

[h/t Swann Auction Galleries]

10 Facts About The Beatles's 'Ed Sullivan Show' Debut

Express Newspapers/Getty Images
Express Newspapers/Getty Images

In 1964, Beatlemania officially reached America. On February 7, 1964, the Fab Four—John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison—boarded Pan Am Flight 101 at London's Heathrow Airport with an estimated 4000 fans on hand to wish them good luck on their first trip to America. When they landed at New York City's JFK Airport several hours later, another crowd of approximately 4000 (screaming) fans were waiting for them. But that was nothing compared to the number of people who would tune in to see the legendary rockers perform on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964. Here are 10 things you might not know about that historic television event.

1. The Beatles didn't come cheap.

Much like The Tonight Show today, being asked to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show in the 1960s was a huge honor for up-and-coming (and established) artists in the 1960s. The publicity generated from an appearance on the show was enough for most talent to say yes. But The Beatles would only agree to appear if the show covered their travel expenses and paid them a $10,000 fee (which would be just over $80,000 in 2019 dollars). Sullivan and his producers agreed, but only if The Beatles would commit to making three appearances. They had a deal.

2. But The Beatles did end up being a relative bargain.

Though forking over travel expenses and an appearance fee wasn't the norm for The Ed Sullivan Show, it ended up being a great deal for the program, and proof that Beatlemania was just as thriving in America as it was in the UK. It's been estimated that close to 74 million people—40 percent of the country's population at that time—tuned in to watch The Beatles play.

3. Technically, it wasn't The Beatles's American television debut.

While The Ed Sullivan Show marked the first time The Beatles had performed live on American television, it wasn't the first time they had appeared on American television. On November 18, 1963, NBC's The Huntley Brinkley Report aired a whopping four-minute-long segment on Beatlemania—the craze that was sweeping England. Just a few days later, on November 22, CBS Morning News ran a five-minute segment on the band's overseas popularity. The segment was scheduled to re-air that evening, but the news was preempted because of JFK's assassination. Walter Cronkite eventually re-aired it as part of the CBS Evening News on December 10, 1963.

4. more than 700 people got to witness The Beatles' performance live.

While more than a third of America's population witnessed music history in the making the night The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, 728 very lucky individuals got to see it all go down live as part of the show's audience. And when we say "very lucky," we mean it: the program received a record-setting 50,000 requests for tickets to the show.

5. Many people linked Beatlemania to JFK's assassination.

In terms of timing, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the rise of Beatlemania in America were closely linked. While many people at the time decided that the band's popularity was in part due to the president's death—that Americans needed something upbeat and positive—others believe it's purely coincidental. In 2013, Slate ran a piece debating (and largely debunking) "the questionable connections between Camelot’s demise and Liverpool’s ascent."

6. the beatles weren't the evening's only performers.

Remember Charlie Brill and Mitzi McCall? No? That's OK. Neither do the majority of the 74 million people who watched The Ed Sullivan Show that night. Brill & McCall were the unfortunate act who had to follow the Fab Four's Earth-shattering, industry-altering performance. The married sketch comedy duo pretty much bombed, as the audience was rather distracted. In 2014, couple—who will celebrate their 59th wedding anniversary this year—talked about that infamous night with CBS.

"For us, it went lousy," McCall said, laughing. "It was terrible.”

"We were doing a sketch," Brill added. "We couldn’t hear each other. Because of the screaming."

Though the appearance didn't do much to advance their career, ultimately, McCall said, it was "an honor" to be a part of it. "We were there when the world changed," she said.

7. One of the Monkees was on the show that night, too.

Davy Jones was also on The Ed Sullivan Show that night, but not as part of The Monkees. Jones was performing with the cast of Broadway's Oliver! Jones played the Artful Dodger, first in London then in New York, and ended up being nominated for a Tony for the role.

8. No, the crime rate did not drop the night The Beatles played.

You've surely heard that old legend that the crime rate in the U.S. dropped dramatically during The Beatles's appearance on the show. Apparently the whole nation was so transfixed by the lads from Liverpool that everyone preferred to tune in instead of running around committing felonies and such. It's a nice story, but according to Snopes, it's not true.

The rumor started when Bill Gold, a reporter from The Washington Post, snarkily remarked that while The Beatles were on that evening, no hubcaps were stolen anywhere. It was meant to infer that The Beatles appealed to the type of degenerate who would do such a thing, but the meaning was twisted and reprinted by Newsweek. Gold ended up writing a tongue-in-cheek retraction on February 21, 1964:

"This week’s issue of Newsweek quotes my report from B.F. Henry that there’s one good thing about the Beatles—'during the hour they were on Ed Sullivan’s show, there wasn’t a hubcap stolen in America.'

It is with heavy heart that I must inform Newsweek that this report was not true. Lawrence R. Fellenz of 307 E. Groveton St., Alexandria, had his car parked on church property during that hour—and all four of his hubcaps were stolen.

The Washington Post regrets the error, and District Liner Fellenz regrets that somewhere in Alexandria there lives a hipster who is too poor to own a TV set."

9. That "very nice" telegram THe Beatles received from Elvis Presley did not come from Elvis Presley.

10th February 1964: A group of Beatles fans watching their heroes perform on the American television programme 'The Ed Sullivan Show'
Central Press/Getty Images

Wasn't it nice that Elvis Presley kicked off The Beatles's American "debut" with a personal telegram? Just before John, Paul, George and Ringo took the stage, Ed Sullivan announced that he had received a "very nice" telegram from The King, wishing the Fab Four "tremendous success." Notoriously known for being jealous of The Beatles, Elvis had actually done no such thing. His manager, Colonel Tom Parker, was responsible for the note, and only sent it because he thought it would make Elvis look good. (Apparently, the disdain was mutual; when the band received the telegram prior to their performance, Harrison reportedly asked, mockingly, "Elvis who?")

10. The Beatles failed to impress Ed Sullivan's musical director.

The crowd (and a third of America) may have been going crazy when The Beatles performed, but Ray Bloch—The Ed Sullivan Show's musical director—wasn't as impressed. When asked for a comment about the performance by a reporter for The New York Times, he was blunt: "The only thing that’s different is the hair, as far as I can see. I give them a year."