Music News of the World (9.24.97)

You Say It's Your Birthday: Steve Severin of Siouxsie & The Banshees

Today is the birthday of Steve Severin, the original bassist for Siouxsie & The Banshees. Born in London in 1955, he was the only member (besides Siouxsie Sioux herself) to play with the band from its beginnings in 1976 until its breakup last summer. Siouxsie & The Banshees were one of the first goth bands, and most certainly the longest lasting. The group evolved from the Bromley Contingent, a loose confederation of Sex Pistols fans. Their first performance, at the 100 Club's 1976 punk festival, featured future Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious on drums and a very long version of "The Lord's Prayer." When the band's first album came out, 1978's The Scream, only Siouxsie and Severin remained from the band's original lineup. Membership in the Banshees has always been a revolving door, but at least they keep good company: former Sex Pistols Steve Jones played with the band on 1980's Kaleidoscope, Magazine's John McGeoch joined the band immediately preceding the group's first American tour in 1980 and the Cure's Robert Smith was in the band from 1978 until 1984.

Smith's tenure in the Banshees helped the band to add a softer and more melodic touch to its sound. The band's 1983 cover of the Beatles' "Dear Prudence" hit #3 in the U.K. and allowed the band to tour. When Siouxsie broke her kneecap on stage in 1985 the band took a break until 1986's Tinderbox. In the later part of the '80s, the Banshees moved away from their punk roots in the direction of dance-pop, with 1988's Peepshow yielding the group's first American single, "Peek-A-Boo." In 1991, the Banshees were featured on the first Lollapalooza tour, and that year's Superstition ended up being the band's most popular album, reaching #65 on the Billboard album chart. Ironically enough, Siouxsie broke up the band, which got its start by worshiping the Sex Pistols shortly after the announcement of their 1996 reunion tour.

Other birthdays: Erik Darling (Rooftop Singers), 64; John Locke (Spirit), 54; Onnis McIntyre (The Average White Band), 54 and Burleigh Drummond (Ambrosia), 46.

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