|The Sisters Of Mercy
The Gothic eZine - Goth Music
The Sisters of Mercy was one of the most influential bands of the 80s. Together with bands like Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Cure, Echo & The Bunnymen and Bauhaus, they created some of the best songs of the decade and its vocalist Andrew Eldritch can be considered one of the heralds of the dark world.
But before they got so influential, their beginning was very modest. In 1980, in Leeds, UK, Andrew and a friend called Gary Marx started the band, back then Andrew was the drummer and guitarist and Gary was the vocalist and the second guitarist.
They released only 1000 copies of a single with three songs through their own label "Merciful Release" - which now is extremely rare - so that they could have something to play on the radio.
In 1981, some needed changes were affected in the Sisters Of Mercy, when Eldritch quit playing the drums and became the official vocalist, Marx started playing only the guitar, Craig Adams was called to play the bass and Doktor Avalanche started playing the drums.
The Sisters Of Mercy's first show was in February of that year and in spite of all the noise they did, through reverberation and microphony, they were very well received by the public. At the end of that year, another musician joined them as second guitarist, Ben Gunn, and they toured for the first time as the support band of the Psychedelic Furs.
Their second single was released in Leeds at the beginning of 1982, and the music critics received it very well. One of the singles of this record, "Body Electric" was "Single of the Week" in the Melody Maker magazine. The Sisters Of Mercy started to distribute their singles in USA through Red Rhino Records, which soon would bring them popularity across the Atlantic too.
Also in this year another band from Leeds, the March Violets, signed with their label, but after a fight among members of both groups, they decided to quit them. In that same year another single was released and they made a BBC session, while they still waited for a major company to want to make business with them.
In the first months of 1983, the Sisters Of Mercy toured the country and released another single, after they had taken part in one more BBC session. They were already getting notorious by their attitudes, especially one of their most charismatic, loved and hated members: Eldritch.
Two EPs were released that year: one focusing the American market, with songs like "Floorshow" and "Phantom" and the other in UK called "The Reptile House EP", which was #1 in the Independent Music Charts.
The Sisters Of Mercy toured Europe and did a few shows in America, after getting back to UK, to record their last independent EP, which had an early version of "Temple of Love". Because of arguments among the members, Ben Gunn left the band soon afterwards. (Pay attention to the endless 'chair-dance' of musicians in the band)
In 1984, Wayne Hussey, who had already worked with Dead Or Alive, took the place of Gunn, and debuted in their next UK tour. But before the tour started, they signed with WEA, while still keeping artistic and production controls in their hands.
Another EP was released, which hit only #46, before they did another BBC session in which material from their upcoming album was showed. At that time the band was gathering a great public, especially in UK and Germany, but when the Sisters Of Mercy's next single was released with "Walk Away" included, it only hit #45 in UK.
1985 began with the departure of Gary Marx, who had been having many disagreements with Eldritch through the years. Their American tour started in March and in that same month their first album "First And Last And Always" was released, getting to #14 in UK.
The last show of the tour was made in the Royal Albert Hall in London and it was their only show to be filmed, which was released under the name "Wake".
The End Or A New Beginning?
Irreconcilable problems among the The Sisters Of Mercy's members provoked their sudden split - Hussey and Adams, for example would form The Mission later on, while Eldritch went to Hamburg, Germany, on vacation.
In 1986, an album attributed to a band called The Sisterhood was released. It was "The Gift". The name Eldritch used to release this Sisters' album was the same Adams and Hussey were using to play live at the time and a huge problem started from it.
Eldritch earned the lawsuit against the former band members, which prohibited them of using the name The Sisterhood. As an alternative, Hussey and Adams decided to use the name The Mission, which would become one of the best goth bands of the 80s.
By the beginning of the next year it was spread in the press that Eldritch was either retired or dead. The Sisters of Mercy's career seemed to have ended in their peak for a moment, but by mid-1987, things were quite different, as the band was slowly becoming a legend in the Goth music scene.
The single "This Corrosion" was then released by WEA and went up to #7 in UK and #1 in USA. That was when the bassist Patricia Morrison joined the band, the single's video started to be shown on MTV constantly and the new album was released.
It was called "Floodland", and was the most successful album of the Sisters Of Mercy's career in a worldwide level. In 1988, more singles were released like "Dominion" that got to #13 and "Lucretia My Reflection", that got #20 in UK.
Patricia Morrison left the band in 1990 and Andreas Bruhn took her place, also Tim Bricheno, joined the band as guitarist and the album "Vision Thing" was released and it got to #11 in UK and #136 in USA.
They started another European tour and their album sold especially well in Germany, where they were one of the most popular Rock bands. Still in that year, they played to 11000 people in the Wembley Stadium in UK.
In 1992, The Sisters of Mercy made a new recording of "Temple of Love", this time with Arabian singer Ofra Haza, which got to #3 in the UK charts. Their greatest hits album "Some Girls Wander By Mistake" was released that year and got to #5.
Through the next years, Eldritch stayed divided between fights with The Sisters new record label East West and touring with the band, and when his problems with the record label ended, he continued to earn some easy money through Rock festival shows in Europe, and especially in Germany.
But don't take them for granted for this reason. The Sisters of Mercy's music never failed in quality and Eldritch continues to write poignant and direct songs as always.