Totally True Tales From One of The Cure's Original Imaginary Boys

Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys
By Lol Tolhurst
Da Capo Press. 336 pp., $27.50

Of all the alternative bands who made waves in the ’80s, few had – and still maintain — such a mystique and distinctive impact as The Cure. The very name of the group — which is led by singer/guitarist Robert Smith — conjures up a clear visual and musical image. But according to founding drummer (and later keyboardist) Laurence “Lol” Tolhurst, this told only part of the band’s story.

“Contrary to popular belief, we were not pale-faced Goths who sat in dark rooms with candles and cried all the time,” Tolhurst writes in this memoir. And in another bit of myth-busting, he regales with tales of how often the “sensitive” Smith would throw himself full-fledged into brawling fistfights with hecklers who would taunt the band as “bloody poofs.”

“For as long as I’ve known Robert, people have been out to get him. Onstage, in the pubs, or on the street. He’s always been a target. I’ve never seen Robert instigate a fight, yet there’s something about him that provokes people,” Tolhurst continues.

He adds that while Smith is “dark, brooding, creative and melancholic,” the lipstick-and-eyeliner-wearing front man also enjoys a cold pint of beer and an exciting football (the English sort, that is) match.

Tolhurst and Smith first met when they were all of five years old, at a school bus stop, their friendship evolving over the years and imbued by their shared love for punk rock. In 1976, the pair – along with Michael Dempsey on bass – formed the band that started as Malice, then became Easy Cure (after a randomly chosen lyric on a scrap of paper), then finally the Cure.

There’s a treasure trove of great stories in Cured, many of which involve gigs on the road as the band began to make its name outside of its hometown of Crawley and into greater England and then Europe.

And whether it’s an early gig at a hospital staff party where they fail to deliver an acceptable cover of Tony Orlando and Dawn’s “Tie a Yellow Ribbon,” or a drunken Tolhurst pissing on the leg of Billy Idol while the peroxided singer was being serviced by a young female admirer in a toilet stall, each tale is funnier than the next.

Not so funny, though, is Tolhurst’s high-level usage of alcohol, which spiraled out of control and led to his ouster from the band in 1989. And despite his admission of his addiction and his deep bonds of friendship with Smith, Tolhurst sued his former friend over contracts and money, which he eventually lost.

The childhood buddies have since made up, and Tolhurst even played a one-off show in 2011 with the group, though he was not reinstated full-time.

Nevertheless, Tolhurst’s drums and keyboards can be heard from 1979’s debut, Three Imaginary Boys, through classics like Faith, Pornography, The Head on the Door and Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, including the singles “Let’s Go to Bed,” “The Walk,” “In Between Days,” “Close to Me” and “Just Like Heaven.”

And tomorrow, Houston's Cure fans will have a rare opportunity to meet and hear from one of the original “Imaginary Boys” in the flesh.

Lol Tolhurst will appear at a reading, Q&A session and book signing on 6 p.m. Thursday, November 17 at Cactus Music, 2110 Portsmouth.