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A closeup of Eldritch at a concert in Portland, OR, in March 2006.
Eldritch performing at a Sisters of Mercy concert in February 2006.
Andrew Eldritch (born Andrew William Harvey Taylor, 15 May 1959, Elymarker, Cambridgeshire, Englandmarker) is the English frontman, singer, songwriter and only remaining original member of The Sisters of Mercy, a band that emerged from the British post punk scene, reoriented gothic rock and, in later years, also flirted with pop and hard rock.

Eldritch also programs the tracks for The Sisters of Mercy's drum-machine (known as "Doktor Avalanche") and plays guitars and keyboards in its studio recordings. He has also established the record label Merciful Release. In addition to The Sisters of Mercy, in 1986 Andrew Eldritch established a side-project The Sisterhood (in order to keep former band members from using the name) which was shortly abandoned in favour of continuing working under The Sisters of Mercy.

Before The Sisters

Andrew Eldritch was born in the small cathedral city of Ely in 1959. Eldritch later wrote a piano song named 1959, alluding to the year of his birth, starting with the line "Living as angel in the place that I was born".

Eldritch studied French and German literature at the University of Oxfordmarker before moving to Leeds around 1978 to study Mandarin Chinese at the University of Leedsmarker; he left both courses before getting a degree (he speaks fluent French and German, and has some knowledge of Dutch, Italian, Russian, Serbo-Croatian and Latin; he claims he has forgotten the Chinese he learned. During this period, Eldritch was a freelance drummer in the local Leeds punk scene.

The Sisters of Mercy

In 1979, Andrew Eldritch and Gary Marx formed The Sisters of Mercy. On the first single, "Damage Done/Watch/Home of the Hit-men", Eldritch played the drums, a task he was later relieved of by the drum machine Doktor Avalanche, allowing him instead to focus on his vocal performance. Over the years, nine members have left the group, several of them citing conflicts with the frontman as a reason for their departure. These include Patricia Morrison who claimed she had been paid an average of £300 per month for her time with the Sisters of Mercy whilst the more publicised feud between Eldritch and Hussey has become established in modern rock folklore. Interestingly and perhaps unfairly in the case of Eldritch's work, both individuals were subjected to a hate campaign by the popular music press throughout the eighties. Hussey suffered especially at the hands of NME once his 'breakaway' band, The Mission had formed. Eventually, Eldritch's conflicts with the record company EastWest would effectively set him on a "strike", an absolute refusal to record any new material.

The 1990s

Following the release of the band's last studio album to date, Vision Thing, Andrew Eldritch's work has included vocal contributions to Gary Moore and Sarah Brightman studio recordings. In attempt for cross-cultural understanding he initiated a 1991 U.S. tour of The Sisters of Mercy in a triple-bill with Gang of Four and hip-hop act Public Enemy. In 1995 he interviewed David Bowie for the German edition of Rolling Stone magazine. Prevented by contractual obligations from appearing under his own name, he is also rumored to have produced a couple of techno albums under various pseudonyms during the 1990s, a rumor he would not deny when asked about it.

In 1997 Eldritch produced the SSV album Go Figure, featuring his vocals over drumless electronic music. The album finally freed him from his contractual obligations, as EastWest agreed to waive their claims for two more Sisters of Mercy albums in exchange for the recordings. The SSV tracks were, however, never officially released. The full name of the band is SSV-NSMABAAOTWMODAACOTIATW, said to be an acronym for "Screw Shareholder Value - Not So Much A Band As Another Opportunity To Waste Money On Drugs And Ammunition Courtesy Of The Idiots At Time Warner".

Recent career

Now in semi-retirement from his musical career — The Sisters of Mercy still tour every so often, having played a 69-date tour in the first half of 2006, but no new recorded material has been released for sale since 1993. Despite this, the band continues to debut new material on stage on a semi-annual basis, infrequently playing secret gigs under a pseudonym in their spiritual home of Leeds.

In February 2006 the "Bite the Silver Bullet Tour" started Las Vegasmarker, United Statesmarker, continuing across the US the UK, Germany, Italy, Greece, France, and other European countries.

Songwriting and philosophy

The devices in Andrew Eldritch's lyrics include literary allusions (most prominently to the works of T. S. Eliot, Leonard Cohen and Shakespeare), erotic imagery, metaphors of drug culture, and an acrimonious criticism of the Republican Party of the United Statesmarker, with which Eldritch flippantly claims to have a "hate-hate" relationship, in view of the Bush dynasty, Christian fundamentalists, and the military-industrial complex. Politically, he has claimed to be "traditionally a Labour supporter" despite his "anarcho-syndicalist tendencies".

Gothic associations

Though Andrew Eldritch has been called the "Godfather of Goth", The Sisters of Mercy, despite being formed in 1980, were originally not very popular in the post punk sub-genre that the British press, in the early 1980s, had labelled, both the artists and their audience, Goth. The Sisters of Mercy were, however, accused by the press of plagiarizing Joy Division, who were marketed by their management as "gothic" in the late 1970s.

Since the early 1990s, Eldritch has publicly rejected associations with the Goth subculture. He describes The Sisters of Mercy as humanist, modernist, and implies he wants nothing to do with Goth, stating "it's disappointing that so many people have in all seriousness adopted just one of our many one-week-of-stupid-clothes benders". He also notes without irony that, "I'm constantly confronted by representatives of popular culture who are far more goth than we, yet I have only to wear black socks to be stigmatised as the demon overlord".

References

  1. Thesistersofmercy.com
  2. Sisterswiki.org
  3. Spookhouse.net
  4. Scathe.demon.co.uk



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