Ian Robert Astbury (born 14 May 1962) is an English singer and songwriter best known as the lead vocalist for the rock band The Cult.
In 1979, while living in Glasgow, Astbury was influenced by The Doors' song "The End", which he heard while watching the movie Apocalypse Now, later describing this as "a religious experience". In 1980 he was in Liverpool, where he was active on the punk scene based around Eric's Club. He moved to Bradford in late 1980, where he was a founding member of the positive punk band Southern Death Cult in 1981. Southern Death Cult lasted until March 1983. Along with guitarist Billy Duffy, bassist Jamie Stewart and drummer Raymond Taylor Smith, Astbury formed a new band, Death Cult, released The Death Cult EP and later dropped Death from the name to become The Cult.
The Cult have been a postmodern rock band active since 1983. Their first album, Dreamtime was released in 1984, and followed by Love in 1985. Love featured the single "She Sells Sanctuary", which introduced the band to an international audience. Many songs of these early albums focus on Native American themes, a pre-occupation of Astbury. On their third album, Electric, The Cult made a transformation to hard rock sound with the help of Rick Rubin.
After the release of the 1989 album Sonic Temple, and the single "Fire Woman", Astbury relocated to Los Angeles, California.
In 1994, The Cult returned with an untitled album and a change of musical pace. Their hard rock sound was gone, replaced instead by Astbury's growing interest in alternative music, fashion and introspective lyrics. The self-titled album was not a commercial successbut released two singles ("Coming Down" and "Star"). To support the album they set out on a tour; in Brazil, however, Astbury's creative differences with guitarist Duffy reached their peak, and the former walked out on The Cult.
Astbury soon after assembled another group of musicians and began writing new songs. He called the group The Holy Barbarians, and in 1996 the band released the album Cream. Although this was not a commercial success. The band appeared at the small Tunbridge Wells Forum which saw them being joined onstage by Vic Reeves for a rendition of The Cult's classic "Wildflower".
Personal difficulties and a drive for further introspection drove Astbury away from his new group, as he began working on a solo album (eventually released as Spirit\Light\Speed).
In 1999, Astbury and Duffy reformed The Cult. A new contract with Atlantic Records was inked, and in 2001 came the release of Beyond Good and Evil. Early radio success was being had by the single "Rise", until the band had a falling out with Atlantic and they ended all commercial promotions and radio play for the album. Astbury described the fight with the record label as "soul destroying"; disillusioned, he brought The Cult to another hiatus in 2002.
Astbury became lead singer of The Doors of the 21st Century in 2002. The group featured original Doors members Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek. In 2003, Astbury also performed with surviving members of MC5 at the 100 Club in London, before finally reforming The Cult with Duffy again in 2006, for a series of live dates. In October 2007, The Cult released Born into This. The first single was "Dirty Little Rockstar".In 2009, The Cult announced a series of shows across Canada, the US, and various countries in Europe. It was billed as "'Love' Live", where the band performed its classic album, "Love," in its entirety.
On 29 May 2010 Boris performed "The End" with Ian Astbury at Vivid Festival on Sydney. Boris and Astbury released a four-song EP in September 2010 on Southern Lord and Daymare Records, containing four tracks entitled Teeth and Claws, We are Witches, Rain (The Cult cover), Magickal Child.
He lives in Los Angeles and plays on the football team Hollywood United with Billy Duffy and Steve Jones of The Sex Pistols and is a supporter of English Premier League club Everton FC.
On 26 May 2012, Astbury married The Black Ryder singer/guitarist Aimee Nash in Las Vegas.
Astbury is featured on the UNKLE tracks "Burn My Shadow", "When Things Explode" and "Forever." He also sings "Flame On" on Tony Iommi's (Black Sabbath lead guitarist) solo album Iommi, as well as duets with Deborah Harry on her 1989 album Def, Dumb and Blonde's song "Lovelight". In 2010, he provided the vocals for the song "Ghost" on guitarist Slash's self-titled solo album. The track also featured former Guns N' Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin on rhythm guitar. Astbury is also credited for playing the drums on a track called "Gasp" by "Japanese Cartoon." Fanart Banner