1980-04-0x Rehearsal, Woodlands School, Basildon, Essex, England, UK

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Notes

In March 1980, Vince Clarke started a band called Composition Of Sound with Andy Fletcher and Martin Gore. At the same time, Robert Marlow started a band called French Look with Paul Redmond and Martin Gore. Dave Gahan was doing the sound for French Look. On one particular night, both bands were rehearsing at the Woodlands School in Basildon.[1] It is fair to say that this coincidental night happened sometime in early April 1980. Below are some quotes that best explain this moment:

In an interview with Stephen Dalton, Dave Gahan said in 2001:

"These guys were rehearsing - they were called Composition Of Sound, and Vince was in the band. I was humping gear for this band called French Look, and one night we were just messing around; we were doing some Bowie songs and we did a cover of 'Heroes'[2]. Paul [Redmond], my friend, was trying to get me to sing in this band [French Look]. There was a guy in the band whose name was Rob Marlow - at the time, I think his name was Robert Allen; he was a singer/guitarist/keyboard player, and he was pretty good at it. But Paul, my mate, was like, 'Dave could sing, he looks good; he can sing - I've heard him!' But this guy [Rob Allen] wasn't having any of it. Anyway, on this particular evening I sang along to 'Heroes', and next door these guys were rehearsing. And so, about a week later, I got a phone call from Vince. He said, 'Was that you singing?' and I said, 'Yes' - it was actually a bunch of people singing, but I said it was me."

Andy Fletcher in The Face, 1981:

"What happened was, we got [Dave] just on the strength of him singing 'Heroes' in a jamming session. We weren't even sure if it was him singing it, there was so many people singing!"

Depeche Mode later covered Heroes during the 2017-2018 "Global Spirit" Tour as a tribute to David Bowie.

References

  1. Please note that this was not the only time that both bands were rehearsing at Woodlands School, so it is extremely hard to pinpoint an exact date on this night. As per a press release that Martin Gore wrote in February 1981, Composition Of Sound was formed in March 1980, and Martin stated in 2009 that "in theory we would have got together at least a few weeks before [our very first gig] because we would have started rehearsing", so this famous night could have happened anywhere between early March and Depeche Mode's first gig. If it's any help, Robert Marlow does claim that this night happened on a Wednesday.
  2. Many people, including Robert Marlow and even Martin Gore now think that Dave Gahan actually went to Compostion Of Sound's rehearsal room to sing 'Heroes' with them, but this quote from the Stephen Dalton interview should prove that it is not true. It is not exactly known in which room Martin Gore was, seeing as should have been rehearsing in both bands that night, but if he remembers watching Dave Gahan's performance, then perhaps Martin was rehearsing with French Look. P.S.: It was also said by Robert Marlow and authors that Dave Gahan could join CoS without auditioning any further. However, Vince said to Jonathan Miller: "Because no one came to our gigs, we decided that because Dave Gahan was very, very popular, we'd get him in the band. He really looked the part, so we decided to audition him to be the vocalist. I remember the interview we did with him, and I remember him singing. We gave him three songs - two that I'd written and one cover of a Bryan Ferry song... a Roxy Music song. He sang both of the original ones badly, I remember, but he sang the Bryan Ferry one quite well, because he was obviously quite familiar with it. So then we decided that he'd be alright for the job."