5 Things You Might Not Know About Robert Smith
Robert Smith of The Cure celebrates his birthday this weekend, but since weâre going to be busy with Record Store Day and, you know, just generally not being at work, we wanted to take a moment in advance of Smithâs special day to honor him, which weâre doing by delivering unto you a list of 5 things you may not have known about him. Give it a read, and then go listen to your favorite Cure albumâ¦or, hey, hereâs an idea: you could listen to the Cure playlist weâve put together for you!
1. He served as a member of The Stranglers for precisely two shows.
In 1980, Stranglers frontman Hugh Cornwell found himself behind bars, having been convicted of drug possession. Was it a fair cop? Find out by reading Inside Information, the book he wrote about his prison stint, which is reportedly a great readâ¦provided you can find a copy! (Itâs very out of print.) But weâre getting off-track: in order to salvage The Stranglersâ upcoming pair of dates at the London Rainbow, the bandâs management decided to ask friends and fans of the band to step in and help them fulfill their obligations. The shows were recorded for posterity, and a collection of the highlights, THE STRANGLERS AND FRIENDS: LIVE IN CONERT, was released in 1995. You can hear Smithâs contributions on âGet a Gripâ and âHanging Around,â both of which were sung by Hazel OâConnor.
2. He helped out on âI Want To Be A Tree,â the one-off single recorded by Tim Pope.
If the name âTim Popeâ doesnât ring a bell, weâll help you out: heâs the man who directed just about all of your favorite Cure videos, not to mention videos by numerous other artists of the era, including The Psychedelic Furs, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Creatures, Soft Cell, the Style Council, Talk Talk, and The The, along with some less likely suspects, including The Bangles (âEternal Flameâ), David Bowie (âTime Will Crawlâ), Paul McCartney (âThis Oneâ), and even Hall and Oates (âAdult Educationâ). But for one brilliant Syd Barrett-inspired 45 rpm record, Pope was a singer.
3. He was the visual inspiration for the lead character in Neil Gaimanâs The Sandman.
To be fair, this is one that you might already know, if only because of the fact that it doesnât take much effort to work out that Dream â or Morpheus, or whatever you choose to call him â has a hairdo thatâs unabashedly borrowed from Smithâs classic coif. Mind you, itâs also been said that the character borrows equally from dancer Farukh Ruzimatov as well as from what Gaiman himself used to look like back in the day. Still, itâs worth mentioning, just in case youâd always wondered but werenât sure.
4. He totally phoned in his performance on South Park. No, seriously.
âI stayed up all night and went into this radio station and recorded my words down a phone line,â Smith told Entertainment Weekly in 2007. âI had no idea what it was all about. I had one of them on the other end of the line directing me, saying, âPlease sound more like Robert Smith. Come on!"â About six months later I saw it and I was completely thrown by what they had done with it.â
5. He covered a Bee Gees song with Billy Corgan.
Corgan hasnât really done much under his own name, and even when he did so, he effectively self-sabotaged its success: the day he released his lone solo album to date, THEFUTUREEMBRACE, he also took out a full-age age in two Chicago newspapers to announce that he planned to reunite Smashing Pumpkins. Fair enough. If youâve never heard THEFUTUREEMBRACE, however, then you havenât heard an insanely good cover of âTo Love Somebody,â one which switches the key of the song and turns it into something absolutely perfect for Smith. âItâs the same melody but sadder,â Corgan told ArtistDirect. âWe finished the demo and my engineer thought it was one of the best things weâve ever done â and that was just the demo! So Iâm pretty good friends with Robert Smith from The Cure, who were a big influence on me. Weâre not just rock buddies, we sort of have a loving relationship from afar. So I called Robert up and said, âWill you sing on my record?â He said, âSure, whatever you want.â I said, âItâs a Bee Gees song.â Over the Transatlantic line I hear Robert Smith going âThe Bee Gees?â I said, âTrust me, just do your thing and it will be fine.â He did and it was great.â
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