Classic Rock Wiki

"Bela Lugosi's Dead" is a gothic rock song written by the band Bauhaus. The song was the band's first single, released in August 1979, and is often considered to be the first gothic rock record to be released.[1][2] It did not enter the UK charts. The B-side featured the song "Boys" and some versions also include a portion of an early demo recording of what would be their next single, "Dark Entries". It was released on CD in 1988[3] and was compiled on the 1998 album, Crackle - The Best of Bauhaus. The original sleeve art was taken from a still of the film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.[2] The authors listed on the single are David Haskins, Kevin Haskins, Peter Murphy and Daniel Ash.[4]


  • 1 Track listing
  • 2 Description
  • 3 Recording session
  • 4 Use in film and television
  • 5 Other versions
  • 6 Personnel
  • 7 Printing information
  • 8 Notes

Track listing[edit][]

  1. "Bela Lugosi's Dead"
  2. "Boys"
  3. "Dark Entries" (Demo)


The song is over nine minutes in length and was recorded "live in the studio" in a single take. David J, the band's bassist, claims on his website to have written the lyrics. The singing does not start (in the studio version) until several minutes into the track. The dub-influenced[5] guitar sound was achieved by using partial barre chords and leaving the top E and B strings open.

The title references horror film star Bela Lugosi (1882–1956), who did much to establish the modern vampire image as the title character in the 1931 film Dracula, and who was dead when the song was written and recorded.

The sleeve cover art shown above is from the D.W. Griffith film The Sorrows of Satan (1926).

Recording session[edit][]

"Bela Lugosi's Dead" was recorded during a six-hour session at Beck Studios in Wellingborough on 26 January 1979. Four additional songs were also recorded ("Boys", "Harry", "Bite My Hip" and the unreleased "Some Faces") but not used; only "Harry" surfaced in 1982 as a single B-side to "Kick in the Eye". "Boys" was re-recorded at Beck Studios in spring 1979. "Bite My Hip" was an early version of "Lagartija Nick".

Use in film and television[edit][]

The song was featured in the 1983 Tony Scott cult vampire film The Hunger, with Bauhaus portraying a band in a nightclub, playing it during the opening credits and introduction. A 7" promotional record featuring an edited version of the song was released to theaters playing the film.

It was also played throughout the film Dead Man's Curve/The Curve, and featured in the French film, Sombre.

The song is played in the film Good Luck Chuck, serving as an introduction for a female *goth character, and appears on the soundtrack.

The song was used as the intro music for the late 1990s Saturday Night Live skit "Goth Talk", which featured Chris Kattan and Molly Shannon as two goth students.

This song was also used in an episode in the fifth season of Smallville, the vampire-/Halloween-themed "Thirst".

It was used in an episode of One Tree Hill.

The song was featured in an episode ("Midnight") of the science fiction/horror series Fringe, which revolved around a vampire-esque creature.[6][7]

Comedian and musician Bill Bailey parodied the song on his DVD Cosmic Jam as part of a medley in which he and his band, the Stan Ellis Experiment, performed Cockney-rock style versions of popular songs. This particular segment of the medley included lyrical changes such as "E ad a girl's name".

The song was played almost in its entirety during the horror film The Collector during a scene in which the older daughter was attempting to have sex with her boyfriend before they were both viciously murdered.

The song was played in the opening scene of the Supernatural television series in episode 5 of season 6, "Live Free or Twi-Hard". The episode was vampire-themed, poking particular fun at the Twilight film seriesand its romanticism of vampires.

The intro to the song was played briefly in Eastbound & Down during the last few minutes of episode 3 of season 3, "Chapter 16" just before Kenny's friend Shane (Jason Sudeikis) has a heart attack.

A version by Chvrches was played during the ending credits of the 2014 movie Vampire Academy.

Other versions[edit][]

Until December covered the song on the B-side of their 1986 12" EP "Heaven" / "Bela Lugosi's Dead".

Italian band Opera IX covered the song on their 2000 album The Black Opera: Symphoniæ Mysteriorum in Laudem Tenebrarum.

Sepultura covered the song on their 2001 album Nation.

Nouvelle Vague covered the song on their 2006 album Bande à part.

On 31 October 2013 (Halloween), David J with Jill Tracy released "Bela Lugosi's Dead (Undead Is Forever)", a cinematic rework of "Bela Lugosi's Dead".


  • Peter Murphy — vocals
  • Daniel Ash — guitar
  • David J — bass
  • Kevin Haskins — drums

Printing information[edit][]

The original 12" release was on white vinyl and limited to 5,000 copies. Various re-releases included the following:

  • black vinyl with black-on-white sleeve (up to 5 version exists, if you compare runout matrix on each of the releases and sleeve format)
  • blue vinyl with blue-on-white sleeve
  • clear vinyl with brown-on-white sleeve
  • green transparent vinyl with green-on-white sleeve
  • pink vinyl with pink-on-white sleeve
  • purple transparent vinyl with purple-on-white sleeve
  • glow-in-the-dark picture disk with clear plastic sleeve