Cover for the goth anthem single Bela Lugosi's Dead

Birth of an Anthem: Bela Lugosi’s Dead

By May of ‘79, 1919 was dropped from their moniker; they were now officially registered as Bauhaus. The band attempted, through an acetate of Bela Lugosi’s Dead, to tempt Fiction Records, amongst others, into signing them to a recording deal. This move was ultimately unsuccessful with “interesting but too long” as the usual record company response after hearing Bela. The Fiction rejection, however, inadvertently led the group to Small Wonder Records based in Walthamstow, London. Though the negotiated contract made for this release to be a one-off deal (with a 50/50 split of profits from sales and little advertising and promotion from the label), the nine and a half minute opus would see an official release on August 6, 1979.

A second recording session took place in London at Small Wonder’s request, where a re-recording of Boys had been laid down (for the flip to Bela). The band, at label boss Pete Stennett’s request, also ran through their live set, resulting in early first take recordings of songs like A God In An Alcove, Telegram Sam, NervesKamikaze Dive and Honeymoon Croon being captured. These were played live in one take rather than the usual recording process with overdubs, colors and additives, captured for posterity on cassette by David J (the entire session, dubbed Live In The Studio 1979, was issued as part of 1997’s Bauhaus: Beneath The Mask book by Andrew J. Brooksbank through Nemo Records). Bela Lugosi’s Dead would receive consistent airplay from highly regarded disc jockey John Peel on his nightly radio show (resulting in their first recording session for Radio One, taped in December 1979 and broadcast in early January 1980) and drift in and out of the UK music charts for the next few years, standing as arguably the group’s defining moment.