site logo

Martin L. Gore Biography

Last updated: 04/18/2012 12:00:00 PM

Martin was born on 23 July 1961 in Dagenham, Essex where he spent his childhood. After, his parents moved to Basildon to find new jobs.

As a kid, Martin used to be the shy type with few friends and spent most of the time alone in his room reading fairytales.

His main interests were languages, which he excelled in, and music. "When I was ten or so, I discovered my mother's old rock'n roll singles in the cupboard, stuff like Elvis, Chuck Berry, Del Shannon, and I played this records over and over again, and I realized then that this was the only thing I was interested in, and it went on from there".

At 13 the newly converted glam-rock fan was given an acoustic guitar. Martin proved to be a quick learner, spending most nights learning chords on the instrument. Martin didn't go out much or drink until he was 18.

He went to St Nicholas Comprehensive School where he played cricket for the school team and got two 'A' levels in french and German. Martin did have a girlfriend at school, Anne Swindell, who had already gone out with his schoolmate Andrew Fletcher. In 1979, he leaved school and took a job in Natwest's Clearing Bank in London where he stayed a year and a half. By now he was playing in an acoustic duo, Norman and The Worms, with school friend Philip Burdett.

In 1980, he left this band and joined Vince Clarke and Andrew Fletcher in the band Composition Of Sound. At that time he bought his first synthesizer: a Yamaha 5. Meanwhile, he also joined another local band, The French Look, where he played the synth. This band broke up quickly. The same year, David Gahan joined Composition Of Sound and renamed it Depeche Mode.

In 1981, they released their first album: "Speak And Spell". This album was mainly composed by Vince Clarke who was the band leader at that time. On this album, Martin wrote only two songs, "Tora ! Tora ! Tora !" and "Big Muff" (instrumental), and performed "Any second Now". At the end of this year, Vince Clarke left the band and Martin become Depeche Mode main songwriter.

In September 1982, they released their second album, "A Broken Frame", entirely written by Martin. This album contains two songs, "See You" and "A Photograph Of You", written during his adolescence.

In August 1983, the "Construction Time Again" album is released, on which Martin performs "Pipeline". This song is probably the most experimental of the album which marks a technological musical change for the band. "CTA" was mixed at Hansa studios in Berlin. During that time, Martin who had split up with his girlfriend of tree years, Anne Swindell, begins a new relationship with a Berlin local called Christina. At that time, he begins a new life in the city which will influence a lot his way of life (bars, clothes...).

In 1984, Martin writes the "Some Great Reward" album in Berlin. The songs are especially influenced by his new relationship. On this album Martin performs "It Doesn't Matter" and "Somebody". To create a natural environment for himself, he sang "Somebody" naked on the Hansa studio cellar.

In 1986, Depeche Mode release their darker album, "Black Celebration", recorded in Berlin and London. "Black Celebration" is the album where Martin performs most songs: "A Question Of Lust", "Sometimes", "It Doesn't Matter Two" and "World Full Of Nothing".

Next year, on the "Music For The Masses" album, Martin sings "The Things You Said" and "I Want You Now". This album was partly recorded in Paris. There, after breaking off with Christina, Martin meets an American, Suzanne Boisvert, who will become his wife.

During the huge tour which follows the album release, Martin sings "Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth", a Sparks' cover which will appear on his solo album, released in June 1989. This album, called "Counterfeit", is an album of covers.

In 1989, Depeche Mode begins the "Violator" album recordings on which Martin performs "Sweetest Perfection" and "Blue Dress". After handing over almost-finished demos for the previous album, Martin kept them less complete this time around to let the band a more free creative process.

In 1991, Depeche Mode contributes to the soundtrack of Wim Wenders film, "Until The End Of The World", with the song "Death's Door" performed by Martin. This year, Martin is honoured by the American Society for Composers, Authors and Publishers for the songs "Enjoy The Silence" and "Policy Of Truth". The same year, on June 6th, Martin has his first daughter, Viva Lee. For him this year is a chance to recharge the creative batteries: "I put everything on hold as I was completely burnt out and empty. I didn't have a single idea in me. I also spent time wondering if I should do a solo album, but then my girlfriend got pregnant and I went straight back into the eager father mode. In the end it was my little daughter that gave me the inspiration back. You see a life being born and growing, it's wonderful, it moves you".

In early 1992, Depeche Mode moves into a villa in Madrid to record the "Songs Of Faith And Devotion" album. On this album, released in March 1993, Martin sings "Judas" and "One Caress". This last one was recorded at Olympic studio using a 28-piece section, with Martin singing the vocal live.

At the beginning of May 1993, Martin and his band start their longest and hardest tour. At the end of November, the first victim of this Devotionnal tour is Martin who has a seizure due to stress and alcohol-abuse. After this huge tour, on August 27th 1994, Martin gets married to Suzanne.

In 1995, Martin contributes to the "Tower Of Song: The Songs Of Leonard Cohen" tribute by covering the song "Coming Back To You". The same year, on July, Martin has his second daughter.

In 1996, the recording sessions of the "Ultra" album begin in New York, without Alan Wilder who has left the band. During this recording Martin felt they woudln't get it finished due to Dave's drug problems. "I had to start thinking about finishing it as a solo artist, which I didn't really want to be". At the end of May 1996, Martin heard that Dave had overdosed. "That's when I thought Depeche Mode were over". Nevertheless, after Dave's rehab, they finish the album which is released in April 1997. Martin comments on the album like this: "I think in some ways it's very different to the last album and it would probably have made more sense as a follow-up to "Violator". For me, the last album was a bit of a quirk, our pseudo-rock LP. This one's far more heavily electronic based, which is where our true roots are". On "Ultra", Martin sings "Home" and "The Bottom Line".

After the release of "The Singles 86>98" album in September 1998, Martin goes on tour with Depeche Mode for four months and performs completely sober, which he hadn't done for years.

On May 27th 1999, Martin was presented with an award for "International Achievement", by the British Academy of Composers & Songwriters, at the 44th Ivor Novello Awards. Martin was presented with his award by Daniel Miller, whose speech commended Martin's work as Depeche Mode's songwriter, and the fact that for nearly 20 years the band have managed to connect, through their music, with people all over the world.

In October 1999, Martin, who was supposed to start writing songs in January for a new album, has done nothing. That's why he asks Gareth Jones (sound engineer and producer) and Paul Freegard (programmer) to put pressure on him. Together they work in his home-studio. In June 2000, Depeche Mode come back in studio to record their new album "Exciter" in London and then in New York and in Santa Barbara where Martin has recently set up house during the break after the recording in London. This tenth studio album is released in May 2001 and is more electronic than the 2 previous. It is followed by a world tour: the "Exciter Tour". Martin performed 11 different songs during this tour, mainly acoustic songs.

Since March 2002, Martin is working on a new solo project of covers in his home-studio with Paul Freegard et Andrew Phillpott.