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If you were to dissect the alternative rock dominating today’s music, you’ll find that much of it pays homage to THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS. Led by vocalist and songwriter Richard Butler, and his bass-wielding brother Tim, the Furs won over fans and critics alike by combining poetic lyrics, innovative rhythms, and melodies driven by an aggressive, punk desperation. Through it all, the band scored major hits with “Love My Way,” “Pretty in Pink,” “Heaven,” “The Ghost in You,” and “Heartbreak Beat,” releasing seven studio albums and spawning several compilations, a boxed set, and a live concert DVD.
The Furs debut, a self-titled album from 1980, was produced by Steve Lillywhite. The LP quickly established the band on radio in Europe and was a top 20 hit in the U.K. The album also found success in Germany, Italy, France, Spain, New Zealand, and Australia.
The Furs found success in the U.S. with their next release, 1981’s Talk Talk Talk, which saw the band making its debut on the U.S. album charts. In New Zealand, meanwhile, the band grew immensely popular, as it reached the top of the charts, the first in a string of Furs albums to chart in the New Zealand Top 10.
In the U.K., the album spun off two charting singles, “Dumb Waiters” and the original version of “Pretty in Pink.” The latter song served as inspiration for the 1986 John Hughes film of the same name, and was re-recorded for the film’s platinum-selling soundtrack.
In 1982, the Furs recorded Forever Now with producer Todd Rundgren, in Woodstock, New York. This album included “Love My Way,” which became yet another U.K. and U.S. chart hit.
The Furs’ 1984 release, Mirror Moves, was produced by Keith Forsey, and featured the songs “The Ghost in You” and “Heaven.” Both charted throughout the world, and “Heaven” became the band’s highest-charting U.K. hit at the time. Also, “The Ghost in You” was a smash single on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
By the mid-’80s, the band had become a staple on both U.S. college and modern rock radio stations. Simultaneously, they were experiencing consistent mainstream success, placing several singles in the pop charts on both sides of the Atlantic.
In 1986, the band recorded a sax-infused version of “Pretty in Pink” for the soundtrack of the film of the same name. Released as a single, it became their biggest hit to that time in the U.S., and their biggest-ever U.K. hit. On the heels of the successful soundtrack, the band immediately recorded Midnight to Midnight, their biggest Top 40 success to date, but also a more overtly commercial effort than the Furs had ever recorded before. The album featured the single “Heartbreak Beat,” which became The Psychedelic Furs’ biggest hit on the U.S. Top 40. The album also featured drummer Paul Garisto and sax player Mars Williams, both of whom continue to tour with the band.
In the wake of Midnight to Midnight, the Furs found themselves ill at ease with their new commercial direction, and subsequently returned to a more raw sound with “All That Money Wants,” a 1988 track especially recorded for a best-of compilation album, All of This and Nothing. 1989’s Book of Days and 1991’s World Outside also saw a return to the earlier Furs’ style.
The Furs’ steady chart success continued with three No. 1 hits on the newly-established U.S. Modern Rock chart between 1988 and 1991. “All That Money Wants” was a No. 1 hit in 1988, while “House” topped the chart in 1990, and “Until She Comes” was No. 1 in 1991.
The band went on extended hiatus in the early 1990s, with the Butler brothers going on to create the band Love Spit Love along with current Guns ’N’ Roses guitarist Richard Fortus and drummer Frank Ferrer. Love Spit Love released two albums and enjoyed some chart success as well.
After spending most of the decade apart, the Butlers reignited The Psychedelic Furs in 2000, and released a live album, Beautiful Chaos: Greatest Hits Live, which also featured a new studio recording, “Alive (For Once In My Lifetime).” Since then, lead singer Richard Butler has released an eponymous solo album produced by Jon Carin, and has hinted at the possibility of a new Psychedelic Furs album.
Currently, the band continues to tour around the world. The Psychedelic Furs touring lineup remains Richard Butler (vocals), Tim Butler (bass), Rich Good (guitar), Mars Williams (saxophone), Amanda Kramer (keyboards), and Paul Garisto (drums).