Depeche Mode are recognised as one of the most artistically resonant bands of the late 20th century. Commercially, they have released 15 studio albums to date, and sold more than 100 million records. Their most recent album, Memento Mori, hit the streets in March 2023.
When Depeche Mode released their debut album in 1981, they were an immediate sensation. Their early years were buoyed by hits that have become classics: “Just Can’t Get Enough” (1981), “Everything Counts” (1983), and “People Are People” (1984), to name a few. They’ve earned a reputation as one of the greatest live bands in the world. Their concert at the Pasadena Rose Bowl in 1988 is legendary.
But, the band began in 1977, when 17-year-old Vince Clarke and his mate Andy Fletcher formed a duo called No Romance in China. By the time Martin Gore came on board in 1980, they had reinvented themselves as Composition of Sound. It was their fourth member, Dave Gahan, who suggested the name Depeche Mode (after the title of a French fashion magazine).
Their band roles have changed over the years, but when they first started performing together as Depeche Mode, Gahan was on lead vocals, and all four members played keyboards. (Electric guitars were added only in later years.) Clarke wrote nearly all of the band’s early songs, including most of their first album, Speak & Spell (1981).
Clarke left soon after the album’s release, and went on to form Yazoo, The Assembly, and Erasure. Gore took over as principal songwriter, and Alan Wilder replaced Clarke on keyboards. Wilder left in 1995, reinvesting his creative energy in Recoil, a band he started in 1986. From 1995 to 2022, Depeche Mode comprised songwriter/frontman Dave Gahan, songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Martin Gore, and keyboardist Andy Fletcher. Andy “Fletch” Fletcher died in May 2022.
All of the bandmembers have had other musical projects. Fletcher, who was a part of Depeche Mode from the beginning, began touring as a DJ in the early 2000s. At about the same time, Gore and Gahan each recorded and released their first solo albums: Counterfeit² and Paper Monsters, respectively. In the early 2010s, Gore and Clarke reunited as Vcmg; they released an album and three EPs in 2011 and 2012. Gahan has since written and recorded with Soulsavers; their first release together was The Light the Dead See in 2012.