The Cult

1983-1995, 1999-
Ian AstburyVocals1983-1995, 1999-
Billy DuffyGuitar1983-1995, 1999-
Chris WyseBass2006-2015
John TempestaDrums2006-
Nigel PrestonDrums1983-1985
Mark BrzezickiDrums1985
Matt SorumDrums1989, 2001
Michael LeeDrums1992
Grant FitzpatrickBass2015-

The Cult Artistfacts

  • The band's origins can be traced back to 1981, in Bradford, Yorkshire, where singer/songwriter, Ian Astbury, formed Southern Death Cult. The band name was derived from the 14th century Native American religion, The Southeastern Ceremonial Complex. In 1983, Astbury met the guitarist, Billy Duffy, who had previously been a member of The Nosebleeds alongside Morrissey (who later fronted The Smiths). Astbury and Duffy formed Death Cult, which was later shortened to The Cult. In our interview, Astbury told us Duffy's personality perfectly compliments his: "I think one thing that Billy gives me is he grounds me - he's a very pragmatic person."
  • The Cult first achieved mainstream success in 1985, when they released "She Sells Sanctuary," taken from their second album, Love. The song peaked at #15 in the UK and spent 23 weeks in the Top 100. In February 2012, "She Sells Sanctuary" was mashed with Flo Rida's "Good Feeling" for a Budweiser commercial that aired during the Super Bowl XLVI.
  • In 1986, The Cult started work on their third album, Peace. However, the band scrapped the record after growing unhappy with its sound. The band then decided to leave England for New York, where they met the producer, Rick Rubin, who helped popularize hip-hop, having produced key albums by Beastie Boys, LL Cool J and Run-D.M.C. Rubin convinced The Cult to re-record Peace and rename it Electric. Astbury spoke to us about the experience of working with Rubin: "Rick was very much about stripping it back to raw basics. He knew that we were young guys who were pretty fired up, full of adrenaline, and we were pretty raw... Rick really loved that energy we had, and he said, 'That's what you should be doing. Just be what you are.' He knew that we wanted to get away from the kind of postmodern, English scene, which had become this level of elitism - a postmodern crowd that looks down upon blue collar music. Rock and hard rock were considered to be a low form." Electric was a commercial success, peaking at #4 in the UK following its release in 1987. The original Peace album, meanwhile, would remain unheard until 2000, when it was included in the Rare Cult box set.
  • In 1987, while touring the US, The Cult were supported by Guns N' Roses, who had only just started their ascent to fame having released their debut album, Appetite For Destruction. Other artists The Cult have toured with include Aerosmith, Metallica and The Who.
  • Astbury and Duffy used to play alongside Paul Cook and Steve Jones of The Sex Pistols in the amateur football team, Hollywood United FC, based in Los Angeles, California.
  • Astbury organized the two-day music festival, Gathering of the Tribes, which was held at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in San Francisco, California, and the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa, California, in October 1990. Artists including Soundgarden, Ice-T, Queen Latifah, Iggy Pop, The Cramps and Public Enemy appeared at the events, which drew 40,000 people and reportedly inspired Jane's Addiction front man, Perry Farrell, to launch Lollapalooza in 1991.
  • In 1991, the director, Oliver Stone, offered Astbury the chance to play The Doors front man, Jim Morrison, in Stone's film, The Doors. Astbury declined the role because he was unhappy with the way Morrison was portrayed in the script. Astbury added to Blabbermouth: "You have to realize that was in 1989. I was wrapped up in being Ian Astbury in The Cult. So when I got the call from Oliver Stone I had to say no. And I would have said no because I didn't relate to Hollywood people. And I felt that Oliver Stone was a voyeur to rock 'n' roll. It was all so shallow and laughable." Morrison's role was ultimately given to the actor, Val Kilmer. Between 2002 - 2007, Astbury would front The Doors live alongside original members, Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek. In our interview, Astbury admitted singing for the band was a huge honor: "It's something I did because I was an absolutely venerated devotee. I put them in a very, very high place. They were in a pantheon of artists, musicians, and to be honest with you, their name does resonate next to Mozart, Beethoven, Delius, Shubert."
  • Astbury was born in Heswall, England and moved to Canada when he was 11 years old. He lived there for five years before moving back to the UK. During his time in Canada, Astbury told us he bonded with other immigrant children: "They weren't really concerned about the color of my skin, my ethnicity, it was more about the fact that I was an immigrant. I was just thrown in with everybody else. I had one friend from Turkey, Ankara. I had another friend form Kingston, Jamaica - Leroy. There were native kids I used to hang out with, Iroquois kids, these two brothers. We used to hang out together, and that was my peer group." While in Canada, Astbury traveled to a Native American reservation, prompting a lifelong fascination with the culture. In 1991, The Cult released their fifth album, Ceremony, which was highly influenced by the Native American way of life. The album cover featured a Native American boy and the parents of the child would later sue The Cult for $61 million, claiming the band used the image without their permission.
  • Numerous drummers got their break in The Cult, including Thin Lizzy drummer, Michael Lee, Guns N' Roses drummer, Matt Sorum, and Big Country drummer, Mark Brzezicki. The Cult's original sticksman, Nigel Preston, died of a heroin overdose in 1992.
  • The Cult went on a hiatus in 1995. They reformed in June 1999 to play the Tibetan Freedom Concert in Wisconsin, and in 2001, they released Beyond Good and Evil after a seven year absence from recording.
  • In May 2012, Astbury married Black Ryder front woman, Aimee Nash, in a ceremony in Las Vegas. Astbury was previously married to Heatherlyn Campbell, with whom he had two children - Dustyn and Che Astbury.
  • While speaking to The Huffington Post in 2012, Astbury labeled himself a "smash-and-grab Buddhist": "I do what I can when I can, and I use what I can when I can. I try to be mindful as much as possible. I certainly lapse into states of complete unconsciousness. I'm living a human life. I'm not trying to 'perfect' myself. I try to be of service when I can, and be mindful."
  • Getting Astbury to complete lyrics often take a little coaxing, according to Chris Goss, who co-produced the band's 2012 album Choice of Weapon. "With Ian, the music has to be in a pocket for him that he feels it's time to him to sing over it," Goss said in a Songfacts interview. "It's actually kind of a delay process, I think, on his part. But then when he finally gets to it after a certain amount of prodding, he comes out with it."

Comments: 7

  • PamLove this band!
  • Lester from New York City, Ny"Sonic Temple' is a GREAT Rock album.
  • James from Windsor, CaThe Cult's album "Love" is one of my favorite albums of the 80's.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, Sci also saw the doors of the 21st century in charlotte NC, afew weeks ago and they kicked ass1 ian astbury was awesome!
  • Matt from Toronto, CanadaThe dooors revival band with astbury is called
    the doors:21st century. i saw them when they
    came to toronto.
  • Tom from Trowbridge, EnglandMatt Sorum is now in Velvet Revolver with other GN'R members Slash and Duff McKagan and Stone Temple Pilots' singer Scot Weiland.
  • Nate from Fort Collins, CoAstbury is now touring with The Doors 21st century, Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger (former members of The Doors)'s Doors revival band. Astbury is filling in for the late Jim Morrison (no relation to Billy Morrison) as the lead singer.
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