Alan Wilder Biography

Pianist, Songwriter (1959–)
British musician and producer Alan Wilder is best known as a keyboardist and songwriter for the band Depeche Mode. Wilder wrote songs like "The Great Outdoors," "The Landscape Is Changing" and "In Your Memory."


Alan Wilder was born on June 1, 1959, in London, England. After playing in a number of bands, Wilder replaced singer and songwriter Vince Clarke as a touring member of Depeche Mode. Wilder played with Depeche Mode from 1982 to 1995, during the height of the band's popularity, and wrote songs like "The Great Outdoors," "Two Minute Warning," "The Landscape Is Changing" and "In Your Memory." Wilder is an accomplished producer as well as a musician.

Early Life

Alan Charles Wilder was born and raised in West London. He began piano lessons at the age of 8 and remained active in music as a teenager, playing frequently with percussionist Ted Ing. Wilder and Ing formed Cloaca, which played frequently in the London area in a milieu that included Gary Numan and future Clash members Mick Jones and Joe Strummer. After school, Wilder worked as an assistant at a recording studio.

Rise to Fame

Alan Wilder joined Depeche Mode after responding to an ad in Melody Maker magazine. The band placed the ad following the departure of founding member Vince Clarke. Wilder joined Depeche Mode in January of 1982, initially as a tour keyboardist. Soon he became a regular member of the recording band.

Wilder wrote a number of songs for Depeche Mode, including "The Great Outdoors," "Two Minute Warning" and "The Landscape Is Changing" on the album Construction Time Again; and "If You Want" and "In Your Memory" on Some Great Reward. Wilder arranged and produced tracks, in addition to his contributions on the synthesizer and piano. Wilder also played the oboe on the band's hit song "Everything Counts."

Wilder pursued his diverse musical interests while still a member of Depeche Mode. His most consistent side project, Recoil, began in 1986 as a two-track experimental EP. In this project, Wilder was able to explore the emerging world of sampling technology.

Wilder's experimentation influenced what would become the most acclaimed Depeche Mode album to date: Violator. His most significant contribution to the album was to transform the song "Enjoy the Silence" from a ballad into a dance track. The resulting single went on to become one of the most commercially successful songs for Depeche Mode. After the supporting tour for the album, Wilder agreed to produce Ebbhead, an album for label-mates Nitzer Ebb.

Wilder also contributed significantly to the next Depeche Mode album, Songs of Faith and Devotion. The album topped the charts in the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany, among other countries. The supporting tour consisted of 15 grueling months on the road.

Later Life

The tour to promote Songs of Faith and Devotion would be Wilder's last. At the height of their fame, the band members were in disarray. Dave Gahan had developed a serious drug problem, Martin Gore was drinking excessively and Andy Fletcher suffered a nervous breakdown. On June 1, 1995, Alan Wilder announced his departure from Depeche Mode, citing personal tensions within the band.

After leaving the group, Wilder focused his efforts on Recoil. The band released a number of albums, using digital technology and tools. Alan Wilder has since appeared once with Depeche Mode, during the Teenage Cancer Trust concert at the Royal Albert Hall, in February 2010.

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