Could October be a more perfect month to usher in a long-awaited memoir about The Cure? Fans of The Cure are a hungry breed indeed, and not for tricks, but for treats – treats in the form of provocative and revealing stories about one of the greatest musical groups of the modern age. Released in its U.S. edition only last week, Cured is drummer/keyboardist and co-founder of The Cure Lol Tolhurst’s story, about his life so far, his struggles with alcoholism, and the genesis of The Cure which started when he met and began (at the tender age of five) his lifelong friendship with Robert Smith.
The descriptions of his friend Smith in Cured are elegant and romantic, leading the reader to believe that Smith was always the visionary: a sensitive and charismatic innocent whom Tolhurst refers to in his narrative as committing one of the “bravest things I’ve ever seen anyone do” when he decides to move from guitarist to frontman of The Cure. A bit melodramatic, yes, but this is The Cure we’re talking about remember? According to Tolhurst, Smith was always intrigued by the darker side of life, found normal living repugnant, and was a kind, compassionate, loving, and forgiving person: “He had things he had to say about the darkest parts of the human experience, and people were either attracted to that or repulsed by it”.
Tolhurst’s narrative follows the band record by record and tour by tour until a breaking point occurs. At a band listening party before the release of Disintegration, he becomes so intoxicated and belligerent that he drunkenly dismisses the album’s merit. That act of intoxication was simply too much for Smith, who had poured his heart and soul into the record. Tolhurst had played on every album The Cure released up until that point, which comprises all the best records with all the best songs, including The Top, which is notorious for being a psychedelic, drug fueled, and practically solo record from Robert Smith (a prodigious record and like all The Cure records before it, a masterpiece). Three weeks after that fateful listening party a letter arrived in Smith’s distinctive handwriting, and that would be the end of Tolhurst’s involvement with The Cure and the beginning of his divide from Smith, which would last until 2000 when they reconciled backstage on the Bloodflowers Tour.
Five years after Tolhurst’s removal from The Cure, and although he had sought treatment for his drinking, he decides to, in his own words, become “the architect of his own demise” by pursuing an unsuccessful legal action against the band and Smith in particular. This would further his sense of isolation and detachment. These passages of Tolhurst’s story are the most despondent and his feelings of hopelessness and dejection permeate the pages.
At times Tolhurst’s descriptions, like some of the music made by The Cure, seem minimal and abstract. There are definitely details that he could have included, but decided to leave out. What happened between Robert Smith and bassist Simon Gallup on the Pornography tour that lead to Gallup not being a member of the band? (He later rejoined after a reconciliation.) Tolhurst isn’t telling. Tolhurst also references the constant drinking and drug use that was at the core of The Cure but does not give specifics about what drugs were being consumed and by whom exactly and in what context. Cured is highly readable and entertaining, and while the underlying current of the narrative focuses on Tolhurst’s struggle with addiction and the development of the band, there are fun and funny moments throughout: fist fights, car crashes, and entertaining vignette about peeing on Billy Idol.
Tolhurst now lives here in sunny Los Angeles, which seems about as far as you can get from the town and borough of Crawley, West Sussex, England (where almost all the members of the Cure lived and grew up and which was, according to his description, a dismal place indeed). I’m hoping at some point he’ll wander into the Last Bookstore and sign some copies of his beautiful and heartfelt memoir.
FURTHER RECOMMENDED READING
Autobiography by Morrissey
Unknown Pleasures by Peter Hook
Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys.: A Memoir by Viv Albertine