In May 1998, Martin Gore (born on 23 July 1961) and Andy Fletcher (born on 8 July 1960) formed Composition Of Sound with Vince Clarke (born on 3 July 1961). Later they spoted Dace GFahen (born on 9 May 1962), then a design student, with another group at the scout hut where they rehearsed and promptly co-opted him. His first significant contribution was to pluck the name Depeche Mode - `fast fasion` - from the cover of a French magazine. At the Bridge House Tavern in London`s Canning Town, they were spotted by Daniel Miller. Shortly afterwards they were signed to his independent Mute Records, which became their long-term record label. With an early song `Photographic` they scored a UK top single. The debut album `Speak and Spell` reached UK number 10. (That December, however, Clarke disliked life on the road, left at the end of a tour, going on to huge success with Yazoo and Erasure).
Because Clarke had written nearly all their songs, Depeche Mode`s demise was predicted. But they recruited technical and keyboard skilled Alan Wilder (b. 1 June 1959). They produced many hits, let me mention at least some of them: A Broken Frame, Construction Time Again, Some Great Reward, Music For The Massses, People Are People.
Their standing, won by adventurous music and hard touring, was confirmed when their concert in California, on 18 July 1988, drew 66,000 and then reached a worlwide audience through the live album and video 10, directed by D.A. Pennebaker (legendary for Bob Dylan`s Don`t Look Back `rockumentary`).
After a short break, in which Gore and Wilder put out solo records, Violator went to UK No. 2, US No. 7, and sold six million worldwide. The world Violation Tour, seen by 1.2 million over eight months, was triumphant, but also proved the touring point into the band 90`s horror story.
During the break between tour and new alburn, Gahan went from fresh-faced young man to Rock Monster. While Gore and Fletcher were marrying and having children, he left his wife and a five-year-old son, moved to Los Angeles, aquired a bear, tattoos and new American wife and took up heroin, and divorced her. In March 1992, when he flew to Madrid to record, the others were shocked by what they saw.
Songs Of Faith And Devotion, followed by Songs Of Faith And Devotion Life, entered both the British and American charts at No. 1, but this crowning success resulted in stressfully extended touring.
Gahan took a near-fatal overdose, Gore was hospitalised with a cerebral seizure, and Fletcher had to fly home and spend a month in a psychiatric hospital to combat depression and `obsessive compulsive disorder`.
Afterwards, Wilder left. Gore and Fletcher embraced healthier lifestyles, and Gahan carried on partying. In August 1995, after a failed sojourn in a rehabilitation clinic, he attempted suicide. The following spring, when he joined the others in New York to record a new album, his voice had gone. Gore and Fletcher told him to go home to LA and sort himself out. Instead he took to injecting `speedballs` of heroine and cocaine until, on 28 May 1996, another nearfatal overdose finally triggered the will to stop. In revealing interview with the New Musical Express, he spoke about his drug problems to such an extent that the reader was convinced of his determination to stay clean and pursue a future with his longest love affair, his band.
With Gahan abstained from drugs and alcohol, and received therapy while under a suspended jail sentence for possession. Depeche Mode completed Ultra, the 1997 UK No. 1 and US No. 4. It was, in many ways, a grim reflection on what they had been through. They refused to tour. Sales declined accordingly, but the band stood by view that a commercial dip was the least of their worries.