The Psychedelic Furs came together in England's emerging punk scene in 1977, where they were initially called "RKO," then "Radio." They then vacillated between calling themselves "The Europeans" and "The Psychedelic Furs," playing gigs under both names before permanently settling on the latter.The band initially consisted of Richard Butler (vocals) (initially using the name Butler Rep), Tim Butler (bass guitar), Duncan Kilburn (saxophone), Paul Wilson (drums)and Roger Morris (guitars). By 1979, this line up had expanded to a sextet with Vince Ely (ex-The Moors Murderers) replacing Wilson on drums and John Ashton being added on guitar.
The Furs initially used Martin Hannett as a producer, but their self-titled album from 1980 was eventually produced by Steve Lillywhite. The LP quickly established the band on radio and was a top 20 hit in the UK. The album also found success in Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Australia. The US version of the album was resequenced, but failed to have as strong a commercial impact.
The Furs found success in the U.S. market with the 1981 release Talk Talk Talk, which made its impact on the US album charts. In the UK, the album was a solid hit which spun off two charting singles, "Dumb Waiters" and the original version of "Pretty in Pink". The latter song served as inspiration for the 1986 John Hughes film of the same name, and was re-recorded for the platinum-selling soundtrack.
In 1982, the band was reduced to a four-piece with the departures of Morris and Kilburn. The band's remaining members moved permanently to New York City, and they recorded their next album, Forever Now, with producer Todd Rundgren in upper New York state. This album contained "Love My Way", another mid-range UK chart hit and their first US chart single, although the track fell just shy of hitting the top 40 in both countries.
Ely left the band after Forever Now, though he returned for the 1988 single "All That Money Wants" and the 1989 album Book of Days.
The Furs' 1984 release Mirror Moves was produced by Keith Forsey, and featured the songs "The Ghost in You" and "Heaven". Both charted in the UK, and "Heaven" became the band's highest charting UK hit at the time, peaking at #29 -- but inexplicably, "Heaven" was never released as a single in America. Instead, Columbia Records opted for "Here Come Cowboys", despite both international success and heavy MTV airplay for "Heaven." "Here Come Cowboys" failed to chart, but "The Ghost In You" was a minor hit (#59) on the US pop charts. The band had become popular in Canada as well: CFNY, Toronto's new wave radio station, listed Mirror Moves as the #1 LP of 1984.
By this time, the band had become somewhat of a staple on US college and modern rock radio stations. As well, they were building mainstream success, fairly consistently placing singles in the mid-range of the pop charts on both sides of the Atlantic, though according to one biographer they would "have more impact on future musicians than they ever did in the marketplace."
In 1986, the band re-recorded a version of "Pretty in Pink" for the soundtrack of the film of the same name. Released as a single, it became their biggest hit to that time in the US, and their biggest-ever UK hit.
Richard Butler later claimed that the success of "Pretty in Pink" caused the band to be pressured into entering the studio to record a follow-up release before they were ready. The result was Midnight to Midnight, an album which Butler characterized as "hollow, vapid and weak". A more overtly commercial effort than the Furs had ever recorded before, the album also featured the single "Heartbreak Beat", which became their only top 40 US hit.
The Furs were dissatisfied with their new commercial direction, and subsequently returned to a rawer sound with "All That Money Wants", a 1988 track especially recorded for a 'best-of' collection. 1989's Book of Days also saw a return to the old-school style and the temporary return of Vince Ely. 1991's World Outside was similarly more of a "back to basics" approach.
From 1988 on, The Furs' were no longer seen on the Hot 100 pop charts in the US, and only sporadically made the lower rungs of the UK pop charts. However, their chart success continued with three #1 hits on the US Modern Rock chart between 1988 and 1991. "All That Money Wants" was their first #1 hit in 1988, while "House" followed suit in 1990, and "Until She Comes" was their final #1 in 1991.
Wikipedia contributors. The Psychedelic Furs. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. January 18, 2009, 09:14 UTC. Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Psychedelic_Furs&oldid=264837566. Accessed January 31, 2009.