Depeche Mode are the most successful electronic band of all time, having sold more than 100 million albums during a career that has lasted for over 30 years. Their sound, which has evolved over the past three decades, has influenced several generations of alternative musicians, as have their imaginative Anton Corbijn-directed videos.
Dave Gahan, Martin Gore, Andrew Fletcher and Vince Clarke formed Depeche Mode in Essex in 1980, at the height of the new romantic movement. Clarke’s ability to write melody-based synth pop set them apart from their contemporaries and they enjoyed almost immediate success with the classic singles New Life and Just Can’t Get Enough, along with their 1981 debut album Speak & Spell. Clarke left the band in November 1981 and later went on to form Yazoo and Erasure. The group recruited keyboard player Alan Wilder as a replacement, while Gore took on the main songwriting duties. The result was a succession of hit singles, including People Are People and Master And Servant, together with their next four albums hitting the top ten in the UK. But, even greater success was to follow.
The 1987 album Music For The Masses, which featured the singles Strangelove and Never Let Me Down Again, sold more than one million copies in the USA and established them as one of the world’s biggest alternative acts. They topped that with the 1990 album Violator, which is widely regarded as the highlight of their career. It sold more than three million units in the USA alone, while singles Personal Jesus and Enjoy The Silence charted around the globe. At the height of their fame, the group decided to change their sound and 1993′s Songs Of Faith And Devotion was much more guitar focused. It topped the US and UK album charts, but did not sell as well as its predecessor. The band suffered further blows when Wilder quit, Gahan became gripped by heroin addiction and Gore was hit by serious health problems. They re-emerged as a three-piece in 1997 with Ultra and went on to release three further albums between 2001 and 2009. All were well received by critics and diehard fans, but the group have been unable to repeat their earlier commercial success.