After teaming up with schoolmates Andrew Fletcher and Martin Gore in the 1970s, in local bands such as No Romance in China and Composition of Sound, Vince Clarke began performing as a keyboardist with Depeche Mode. Depeche Mode's debut album, Speak & Spell (1981), peaked at No. 10 on the U.K. albums chart, and found international popularity with the hit "Just Can't Get Enough." Despite early success, Clarke left the group in the early 1980s to form the band Yazoo singer Alison Moyet. He then joined singer Andy Bell to create his most successful partnership yet, the synthpop group Erasure. With hits like "Sometimes," "Chains of Love" and "Respect," the duo found popularity in both the United Kingdom and United States. Erasure has sold more than 250 million albums worldwide, and are regarded as one of the most successful pop groups in British music history.
Early Career: Depeche Mode
Born on July 3, 1960 in South Woodford, London, Vince Clarke got his start in music at a young age, studying both violin and the piano. As a teen in the late 1970s, he teamed up with schoolmate Andrew Fletcher to form the short-lived band No Romance in China. In 1980, the duo formed a new band, Composition of Sound, which included new member Martin Gore.
After undergoing a sound transformation, switching from guitars to synthesizers, Composition of Sound recruited a new frontman, Dave Gahan, to perform vocals. The group was then renamed to Depeche Mode, and soon gained wide popularity for their signature tenchopop sound. They released their debut album, Speak & Spell, in 1981, peaking at No. 10 on the U.K. albums chart. Clarke wrote all of the songs on the album, including the singles "Dreaming of Me," "New Life" and the very successful "Just Can't Get Enough."
Despite Depeche mode's success, Clarke left the band following the release of Speak & Spell to form the pop group Yazoo, along with singer Alison Moyet. Together, they produced two albums that included the hit songs "Only You," "Don't Go" and "The Other Side of Love." In 1983, Clarke teamed up with producer Eric Radcliffe to create another synthpop project, The Assembly. The group was short-lived, however, and Clarke decided to put an ad in the British newspaper Melody Makerfor a new singer to work with. Through that ad, he met singer Andy Bell and formed the synthpop duo Erasure.
With Clarke on the keyboard and Bell singing lead vocals, Erasure quickly became one of the most successful pop acts in British music. They released their debut single, "Who Needs Love Like That" in 1985, along with the album Wonderland. The band established itself on the U.K singles chart, with hits like "Sometimes," "Doesn't Have to Be" and "Victim of Love." Their third album, The Innocents, debuted at No. 1 in the United Kingdom, and went platinum in both the United Kingdom and the United States. The songs "Chains of Love" and "A Little Respect" became U.S. Top 20 hits.
Since releasing The Innocents, Erasure has put out a number of synthpop and New Wave albums, including a self-titled album in 1995, Nightbird (2005) and Light at the End of the World (2007). To date, the group has sold more than 25 million albums worldwide.
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