You Say It's Your Birthday: The Cult's Billy Duffy

Today is the birthday of Billy Duffy, onetime guitarist

for the Cult, who was born in 1959 in Manchester, England. The Cult went

through several personae -- from death-rock band to goth band to metal band --

in their many years together.

The original incarnation of the group was

founded in 1981 by singer Ian Astbury (whose birthday is two days after

Duffy's), who dubbed it the Southern Death Cult. Duffy had been playing in

local bands, including one with a pre-Smiths Morrissey and another called

Theatre of Hate, before Astbury hired him in 1981 and shortened the group's

name to the Cult. They added bassist Jamie Stewart and drummer Les Warner and

recorded their debut, Dreamtime for release in 1984.

The following

year the Cult made its major-label debut with Love and charted two

singles, "(She Sells) Sanctuary" and "Rain." The gang hooked up with Rick Rubin

to record Electric in 1987, including the amazing "Love Removal

Machine"; he took their sound into a more heavy-metal arena, but the idea

didn't fully mature until 1989's Sonic Temple, which went to #10 in

1989. That album was produced by Bob Rock and featured a pre-Guns N' Roses Matt

Sorum on drums (who was fresh from working with Tori Amos' failed band, Y Kant

Tori Read); the album went platinum and featured two singles, "Fire Woman" and

"Edie (Ciao Baby)," an ode to Andy Warhol model Edie Sedgwick.

In 1991 the

Cult -- now Astbury, Duffy, bassist Craig Adams and drummer Scott Garrett --

released Ceremony, but the metal mood had passed and the album didn't

fare well, despite a single for "Wild Hearted Son." The band took a three-year

break and returned in 1994 with a self-titled record that returned the Cult to

its earlier gothic sound. It, too, sold poorly and Astbury disbanded the group.

Other birthdays: Burt Bacharach, Jay Otis Washington (Persuasions), Billy Swan,

Ian Dury, James Purify (James & Bobby Purify), Ian MacLagan (Small Faces),

Robert MacVitte (Sugarloaf), Steve Winwood, Billy Squier and Shannon. -- Beth

Winegarner