Dave Vanian

Before the mainstream got a hold of it, punk rock was all about marching to the tune of your own drummer, and the Damned's singer, Dave Vanian, was a prime example. Instead of wearing the soon to be universally accepted punk uniform (spiky hair, ripped jeans, leather jacket, etc.), Vanian adopted a vampire-ish look -- pale face makeup, slicked-back jet-black hair, and always dressing in black from head to toe. Fast forward a few years, and Vanian's choice of fashion became the accepted look for goth rockers worldwide. Born David Letts on October 12, 1956, in Hemel Hempstead, England, he changed his last name to Vanian during the '70s, during which time he supposedly earned a living as a gravedigger. Forming the Damned along with Captain Sensible, Brian James, and Rat Scabies in 1976 (despite a popular rumor -- that Vanian had never sung with a band previously), the group soon became one of the leading first-wave U.K. punk bands -- along with the Sex Pistols and the Clash -- on the strength of their classic 1977 debut, Damned Damned Damned. Vanian remained with the group throughout the years and, in 1995, issued his first-ever solo album, a self-titled release credited to Dave Vanian and the Phantom Chords. Additionally, Vanian hosts his own TV show, Dave Vanian's Dark Screen, which features homemade horror movies sent in by viewers, in the U.K., and in 2004 the singer appeared on a live DVD by the re-formed MC5, Sonic Revolution: A Celebration of the MC5.
Greg Prato, Rovi

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