Southern Death Cult

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Southern Death Cult was a gothic rock band in the early 1980s. It is now primarily known for having given its lead singer and parts of its name to the multi-platinum hard rock band The Cult. Despite the similarities in the names, "Southern Death Cult" was distinct from "Death Cult"/"The Cult."


Southern Death Cult emerged from the ashes of Bradford punk band Violation. In place at that time were Aki Nawaz (drums), Barry Jepson (bass), Mick (guitar) and Mick Brady (vocals). Songs in their set included "Boys in Blue" and "Assault & Battery". This line-up supported The Clash at Bradford's St. George's Hall in 1980.

In 1981, Ian Astbury had moved into a new house in Bradford and reportedly discovered a band rehearsing in the cellar. Astbury (under the name "Ian Lindsay") started performing alongside David Burrows (guitar), bassist Jepson and drummer Haq Qureshi (a.k.a. Aki Nawaz), and renamed the band Southern Death Cult, the traditional name of the Native American culture known today technically as the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex.

The Southern Death Cult's first ever performance was at the Queen's Hall in Bradford, England, on 29 October 1981. The setlist the band played was: "Crow", "The Girl", "Apache", "Vivisection", "Moya" and "The Crypt", with a bootleg recording of that show in circulation. A sixth song was sometimes referred to as "War Song", but its real title is unknown, although it used lyrics which would later become The Cult's 'Spiritwalker'. The band never played it after 1981.

Southern Death Cult toured heavily in the UK promoting its triple A-side single "Moya/Fatman/The Girl", which had gone to #1 on the UK Indie Chart. The band toured with Theatre of Hate, and then succeeded in getting a slot opening for Bauhaus at the end of 1982, but Astbury disbanded the group after a show on 26 February 1983.

Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy (of The Nosebleeds and Theatre of Hate) came together later in April 1983 to form a different band, with a similar name, first called Death Cult and then, after releasing a four song EP and a single, The Cult. The other members of Southern Death Cult formed Getting the Fear. Later they changed their name to Into A Circle. Qureshi went on to form the political, Islamic hip hop group Fun-Da-Mental and create the label Nation Records.

Southern Death Cult's singles, demos, and some live recordings were later collected onto a ten song compilation album by Beggars Banquet, entitled Southern Death Cult. The vinyl version was released in a dozen countries after The Cult's popularity grew in the 1980s. An early ten song CD version was released in 1987 in Japan. It was issued on CD in 1988 with five bonus tracks, and then remastered and reissued on CD again in 1996. The songwriting credits to "A Flower in the Desert", off of The Cult's Dreamtime album, are from the Southern Death Cult line-up which was originally titled "Flowers in the Forest" – a credit which is sometimes omitted from the various different pressings of the 1984 album.


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