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Depeche Mode's Martin Gore

Guitarist-keyboardist and songwriter Martin Gore was part of the new smaller Depeche Mode lineup that toured behind 1998's greatest-hits album The Singles '86–'96, a 21-track, double-CD collection (featuring the new "Only When I Lose Myself").

Depeche Mode, who pared down to a trio with the departure of drummer-keyboardist Alan Wilder following the band's 1993–1994 tour, remains anchored around Gore's songwriting.

Martin Lee Gore was born 38 years ago today in Basildon, England. He worked as a bank clerk before hooking up with synthesizer player Andy Fletcher and keyboardist Vince Clarke to form the nucleus of Depeche Mode (at first called the French Look and then Composition of Sound) in 1980. Gore had previously been in the band Norman & the Worms.

The trio added Dave Gahan as lead singer. Gahan, a window-design student, named the band Depeche Mode after the French phrase meaning "fast fashion."

On its initial tours, which usually found the band performing in English pubs, the members lugged around their synthesizers while traveling by train. Their songs began to evolve from bouncy dance-pop to stark and moody pieces with insinuating hooks.

After Depeche Mode's debut, Speak and Spell (1981), became one of the best-selling albums of the year in the UK, Clarke quit to pursue other interests. He went on to form the bands Yazoo and Erasure. With Clarke's departure, Gore took over the role as main songwriter.

Following the success of 1982's A Broken Frame, drummer-keyboardist Alan Wilder officially joined Depeche Mode. Some Great Reward (1985) broke the band in the U.S., thanks to the catchy top-20 single "People Are People."

Depeche Mode's cult audience grew in the U.S. with LPs such as 1986's Black Celebration, including "A Question of Lust" (RealAudio excerpt), and 1987's Music for the Masses (featuring "Never Let Me Down Again"). But they didn't enjoy another big U.S. hit until "Personal Jesus," from the 1990 LP Violator. That album also spawned the U.S. top-10 "Enjoy the Silence."

These hits helped the follow-up, 1993's Songs of Faith and Devotion, enter the Billboard 200 albums chart at #1. But then Wilder left and Gahan descended into drug abuse that almost killed him in 1995.

With Gahan on the road to recovery, the three-man Depeche Mode issued Ultra in 1997. The LP featured titles such as "Freestate," "Barrel of a Gun," "It's No Good" and "The Love Thieves."

Last year, Gahan said: "It's been going very well. It's been a lot of fun and a lot of hard work, too. Obviously, we're a little bit older, but it's been a great feeling onstage. Some of the older songs are taking new ways."

Other birthdays: Tony Joe White, 56; Dino Danelli (Rascals), 54; Andy Mackay (Roxy Music), 53; David Essex, 52; Blair Thornton (Bachman-Turner Overdrive), 49; Nick Menza (Megadeth), 35; Rob Dickinson (Catherine Wheel), 34; Tim Kellett (Simply Red), 35; Slash (ex–Guns n' Roses), 34; Sam Watters (Color Me Badd), 29; Mr. Dalvin (Jodeci), 28; Chad Gracey (Live), 28; Alison Krauss, 28; and Keith Ferguson (Fabulous Thunderbirds), 1946-1997.