The Easy Cure in 1977: Peter O’Toole, Robert Smith, Porl Thompson, Michael Dempsey, and Lol Tolhurst (in front).
Here is what might be the earliest footage that exists of the Cure, or as they were then known—as of July 3, 1977 when this performance took place—the Easy Cure. If there is anything earlier than this—which at one point appeared on a VHS home video release in 1986 called Staring at the Sea—I’m unaware of it.
The place was the Queens Square Bandstand in Crawley, and the Easy Cure consisted of Robert Smith (guitar), Lol Tolhurst (drums), Porl Thompson (guitar), Michael Dempsey (bass), and Peter O’Toole (vocals). Previously, Smith, Thompson, Dempsey and Tolhurst had played together in a band called Malice that went through a few lead singers before O’Toole joined in April of 1977. Soon afterward the band recorded a demo in the dining room at Smith’s parents’ house and won a talent contest that saw them signed to a recording contract with the German record label Ariola-Hansa. The Easy Cure name came from the title of a song written by Tolhurst.
Michael Dempsey, Porl Thompson, Robert Smith, Peter O’Toole & Lol Tolhurst.
This footage was shot on July 3, which was one of the single hottest days of 1977 in the UK. The highest temperature recorded on that day was 28°C at Heathrow Airport, only 30 miles from Crawley. Seen in the film, a young woman waves a fan to cool herself down, and some of the men watching have removed their shirts due to the brutal heat. The youthful group is apparently performing a song here called “I Wish I Was Your Mother.” Soon after this was shot O’Toole left the band for a kibbutz in Israel and Smith became the lead vocalist.
BONUS: Some studio demos recorded by the Easy Cure at Sound and Vision Studios in London for Hansa International: Beginning with the pervy but extraordinary “See the Children,” and then continuing with “Meathook,” “I Want to be Old” “Listen,” and “I Just Need Myself, :all of their signature sounds were already in place by this point. Even if this does sound “formative” (that’s exactly what it was) it’s still pretty amazing and the sound quality is very good. Hansa execs, who’d apparently awarded them the contract thinking they’d be a malleable teen act, hated their planned single “Killing an Arab” (based on Albert Camus’ existentialist novel The Stranger) and they were soon dropped from their contract.
Thank you Nick Abrahams, currently of Glasgow.