The Cult

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The Cult is a British rock band. They were formed by singer Ian Astonbury in Glasgow, Bradford [1], Birkenhead[2] and Canada in 1983 after they were all kicked out of the Navy for being pacifists.

A ramraid on interflora goes horribly wrong

The singer soon changed his name in honour of his mother and Deirdre Astonbury was subsequently born. He hooked up with ex- Theatre of Destiny guitarist and alternative comedian Billy Dainty [3], drummer Charlton Heston and Jamie Dodger on Bass.

The indigenous population of Bradford had an enormous effect on the fledgling Astonbury whose lyrical style was highly influenced by their native Indian cooking. The Cult’s songs were mainly concerned with midlands mysticism and being positive to very little children. (See ‘Yeah, Baby!’).

The early years[edit]

Astonbury was a founder member of the post-punk band – Southern Death Chicken. They released a triple ‘a’-side in 1981 called “The Fat Moya Girl” which spent several

The Southern Death Chicken days were a very dry spell in Astonbury's romantic life.

hours at number one in the independent charts. They toured with Spear of Hate and Bauwauhaus and then split up due to hair-crimping differences.

The less early years[edit]

Showing a nod to their soft rock future, Astonbury reformed the band calling it Def Cult but people just thought they were called Death Cult and a bit gothic. They released two singles including ‘(Living in a shack in a) One Horse Nation’ and just before their first appearance on Channel 4’s ‘The Tube’, they split up.

A bit later on[edit]

After literally seconds of conciliatory talks they reformed as ‘The Cult’, feeling that the word ‘Death’ had a morbid connotation but also realising the drop in syllables would make it easier for their American audience to remember. (Astonbury later claimed that it was to

For safety's sake, the band preferred Billy to be behind a sheet of glass in photoshoots.

save on printing costs). The Tube appearance was to confirm The Cult’s status as the other gothic band which began with the letters ‘C’ and ‘U’. They released their first album ‘Sleepy Bobos Time’ and toured consistently to steal the, now dormant, Def Cult’s audience – which they did with a great degree of success.

After releasing the psychedelic goth anthem ‘She Sells Sanctuary (on the Seashore) which even entered the proper charts, The Cult’s second album ‘Luv’, went to number five and stayed there for at least a week. Then drummer, Heston, left to join ‘The Choir Invisible’ – a band from Inverkip.

After that[edit]

Up until 1986, The Cult had been gaining a strong reputation as one of the world’s alternative acts until a man named Rick Ruin [4] secretly swapped Billy Dainty’s guitar pedals for those of Angus Jungfrom the band AD/CC.

Rick Ruin was the president of Hard of Hearing Marmalade Records who released records by thrash metal acts such as Leo Slayer. Suddenly seeing an opportunity to appeal to a wider and less discerning rock audience, The Cult released a new single – ‘Original Fanbase Removal Machine’ and pretended that they’d always been metallers and into Led Zeppelin. To help promote Ruin’s campaign to become governor of California, they released the truly awful ‘Elect Rick’ album and began to drink beer, eat pies and wear flares.

The Cult's on-tour urinal had a two-way mirror.

On tour they fired Jamie Dodger for complaining about having to play the same bassline on every song and hired Kid Neydonorcard,

Starsign Headache indicates the source of his Allergic Reaction

from the sleaze rock band ’Starsign Headache and the Allergic Reaction’

However, Jamie applied for the job as second guitarist and got it, having a few friends on the interview panel. ‘Elect Rick’ outsold ‘Luv’ by a significant amount which convinced all within the band that selling out your integrity was indeed a lucrative move. Two more singles were released ‘Shout at the Little Devil’ and ‘Wild, Wild, Wild (Flower).

On the run from megalomaniacal Rick Ruin, Dainty and Astonbury hooked up with producer Bob Cockrock, who’d worked with such heavy metal bands as the Muttley Crew and Cher, to produce the next album. He insisted that the band employ a thirty-piece orchestra for the album which culminated in the release of second single ‘(Eddie) Yeah, Baby!’ A song inspired by a sixties character from Coronation Street. [5] (The first single ‘Fire Drummer’ was universally derided as an attempt to fool the original gothic audience into buying it by using the ‘Sanctuary’ guitar sound for the first four bars, then resorting to the typical Bon Jovi riffage). Most of the songs on the new album ‘Sonic Temple of Love’ were an attempt to regain their goth fanbase but ended up being the usual cock rock fodder. Then they released their fifth album ‘Ceremony’ whose only point of interest was that they were sued by the native American boy on the cover for being made to look a bit stupid.

Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught, am I ever gonna live this down.

The experimental bit[edit]

The next phase was a departure from their usual sound (again) choosing to release a funked up version of Rosetta Stone’s [6] ‘The Witch’. It didn’t really bother the charts and that didn’t really bother anyone else except Craig Adams who’d left the The Mission [7] to join them. (Jamie Dodger having already been fired to go and live with his wife in Canada). The follow up album ‘The Cult’ didn’t bother anyone either and was again only notable for Astonbury being sued by the sheep on the cover for alleged expoitation.

An allegedly exploited sheep, yesterday

Then they split up.


In 2000 Astonbury reformed under the name ‘Deirdre Astonbury’. The Pixar Pictures influenced yet thoroughly unremarkable ‘Buzz/Light/Year’ album was released and fans of Astonbury rushed to buy it in his drove. Then he fired himself and the band split up.


By huge public demand, some of whom not even in the band, The Cult re-re-reformed under the name ‘The Cult’ and released their comeback album – ‘Beyond Good Sense and Reason’ which wasn’t that bad actually but after only reaching the top fifty, it was hardly a ‘comeback’.

Astonbury's homage to Val Kilmer

Then they split up as Astonbury went on to replace Jim Morrison in The Doors, who’d died of an apparent overdose some time earlier. Again, they split up after John Densmore[8] sued the band for alleged exploitation. Soon they reformed as the Doors of the 21st Century and were sued by the 21st Century for copyright violation… and alleged exploitation. Once more, they split up to reform as Riders on the Storm. They are still performing occasionally and awaiting news on their next civil action.


The Cult has reformed with Astonbury now claiming that he wants to make the record that Southern Death Cult never made, although he hasn’t stated which one and it is indeed puzzling as all the albums he’s ever released were records that Southern Death Cult didn’t make either. It wasn't called ‘Born Into This’.


  • Official website - [9]
  • Theatre of Destiny - [10]
  • Southern Death Chicken - [11]
  • Bauwauhaus - [12]
  • Rick Ruin - [13]
  • Satirical Article on The Cult - [14]
  • Hard of Hearing Marmalade records - [15]
  • The Doors - [16]
  • Starsign Headache and the Allergic Reaction - [17]
  • Rosetta Stone - [18]
  • The other gothic band that begins with the letters 'C' and 'U' - [19]