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The Cure and Robert Smith Influences: Goth Rock explained

Feeling in a dark mood style? Here we check out the influences of one of the most recognizable gothic rock bands ever: Robert Smith’s The Cure. Let’s find out how these British rockers created their trademark sound.

The Cure's musical influences: Robert Smith's dark and goth music style

The Cure’s unique music style seamlessly weaves together influences from punk rock, pop, and alternative rock. Emerged in the late ’70s England, their influence has left an indelible mark, inspiring artists across genres like dream pop, shoegaze, alternative, and synth rock.

What Artists Influenced The Cure?

Throughout their career, The Cure’s moody music style has followed the vision of frontman Robert Smith and the creative contributions of other band members. Among their most significant influences are David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Siouxsie and The Banshees, Joy Division, Pink Floyd, The Stranglers, The Buzzcocks, Sex Pistols, Magazine, Television, Roxy Music, and Cocteau Twins.

Siouxsie and The Banshees

Iconic figure Siouxsie Sioux, with her band Siouxsie and The Banshees, had a fundamental influence on Robert Smith’s musical trajectory. In fact, Siouxsie welcomed Smith as part of her band briefly between 1983 and 1984, as we explained in The Cure’s history post.

This experience encouraged Robert Smith to return to his band and change their musical direction. The Cure’s mid-’80s shift towards a more pop and complex sound is certainly something we owe to Siouxsie and The Banshees who influenced pivotal The Cure albums like “Head on the Door” (1985) and “Disintegration” (1989).

David Bowie

Robert Smith’s admiration for David Bowie extends to both his stage presence and musical originality. Smith considers “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars” pivotal, and hails Bowie’s track “Let’s Dance” as one of the best songs of the ’80s. A mythical and integral artist, Bowie has profoundly influenced The Cure’s visual and musical artistry, evoking the sounds of glam and psychedelia.

Jimi Hendrix

The legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix played a vital role in Robert Smith’s development as a guitarist. While this influence is more noticeable in the early days of The Cure, Smith’s experimental guitar techniques are deeply marked by The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s unforgettable albums released in the late ’60s.

Joy Division

Emerging almost simultaneously with The Cure, Joy Division became an influence for many peer groups. The dark, profound, and atmospheric sound of Ian Curtis’s band served as a model for The Cure, especially in the albums following their 1979 debut, “Three Imaginary Boys,”.

The Stranglers

In the realm of punk rock influences on The Cure, The Stranglers hold a significant spot, blending art rock, synthesizers, and guitars with a unique sound style. Notably, The Cure’s bassist, Simon Gallup, shaped his distinctive sound based on his colleague from The Stranglers, Jean-Jacques Burnel.

Cocteau Twins

With an unmistakable style, Cocteau Twins’ musical proposal has been essential for The Cure’s dreamy sound vibes. This band among Robert Smith’s favorites, influencing his taste for textures and vocal melodies based on the inimitable Elizabeth Fraser. Robert Smith recommends Cocteau Twins’ 1984 album, “Treasure.”

Other artists that influenced The Cure include Pink Floyd, Magazine, T. Rex, Roxy Music, Sex Pistols, The Clash, and The Buzzcocks.

Bands and artists influenced by The Cure

Throughout their lasting career, The Cure has inspired other famous bands such as The Cranberries, The Smashing Pumpkins, Red Hot Chili Peppers, My Bloody Valentine, Nine Inch Nails, Deftones, Chvrches, Placebo, and Interpol.

The Cranberries

As we explained in The Cranberries’ influence diagram, The Cure played a fundamental role in shaping this band’s style with arpeggiated guitars with delay. All members of The Cranberries closely followed Robert Smith’s band, and incorporated the delicate nuances of The Cure’s sound into their own, combining them with thunderous guitars and the powerful voice of their singer, Dolores O’Riordan.

Red Hot Chili Peppers

The Cure is one of guitarist John Frusciante’s favorite bands. As detailed in the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ influence chart, Robert Smith’s band was crucial for the 2002 album “By The Way” by the Chili Peppers. Frusciante, an experimental musician, owes part of his taste for pedal effects to The Cure’s prolific career.

Smashing Pumpkins

One of the most notable bands to emerge from alternative rock and grunge in the ’90s, Smashing Pumpkins based their distinctive sound significantly on The Cure’s music. As renowned shoegaze fans, Smashing Pumpkins’ influences include The Cure as one of their main inspirations, particularly evident in their ambitious album “Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness” (1995). Corgan’s preference for dark and atmospheric sounds with a punk vibe it also notable in their subsequent works like “Adore” from 1998 and even “CYR” from 2020.

My Bloody Valentine

Guitarist Kevin Shields has spoken several times about how The Cure has been a key influence on his style and songwriting. Any song by My Bloody Valentine makes this inspiration evident. Truth be told, we can observe a reciprocal influence here. For instance: The Cure’s 1989 album “Disintegration” was crucial for the distinctive style of My Bloody Valentine. But also, Robert Smith was profoundly inspired by My Bloody Valentine’s defining album, “Loveless,” released in 1991, using it as a reference to record “Wish” a year later.

Wolf Alice

Known as a powerful rock act that combines noise rock, alternative music, and dream pop, Wolf Alice is one of the most interesting bands of the last decade. In any of their studio albums, their style bears noticeable resemblances to The Cure. Throughout their albums, Wolf Alice’s music makes use of ethereal passages and a spatial, guitar-driven sound that clearly takes inspiration from the band led by Robert Smith.


The band AFI (A Fire Inside) became widely known for their sound, shaped by punk, hardcore, and emo. This band also combined these genres with a sad tone in their songs and a dark aesthetic, two elements clearly taken from their affinity for The Cure. A.F.I.’s lead singer, Davey Havok, explained that The Cure’s iconic dark-sounding album “Pornography,” from 1982, is one of his favorites and a record he regularly listens to.

Other artists influenced by The Cure include Editors, Deftones, Placebo, Chvrches, Nine Inch Nails, Suede, Korn, Warpaint, and Interpol, to name a few.