The soaring falsetto of Andy Bell
combined with the infectious electronic melodies of Vince Clarke
to position Erasure
among the most commercially successful techno-pop acts of their era. Born April 25, 1964, in Peterborough, England, Bell
was among over 40 applicants who in 1985 responded to a blind ad in a British music weekly seeking a singer; at the audition, he discovered the advertisement was placed by synth pop pioneer Clarke
, famed for his previous stints as a member of Depeche Mode
's powerful rendition of "Who Needs Love Like That?" so impressed Clarke
was formed on the spot, and months later the same song became the duo's debut single. One of the first openly gay stars in pop, Bell
's gender-bending flamboyance and high-pitched vocals proved the perfect complement to Clarke
's moody persona and buoyant popcraft. Although their 1986 debut LP Wonderland
was a commercial and critical disappointment, with 1988's The Innocents Erasure
scored a pair of American pop hits, "Chains of Love" and "A Little Respect." While both 1989's Wild!
and 1991's Chorus
topped the British charts, the advent of grunge minimized dance-pop's immediate appeal, however, and subsequent outings appeared to little notice outside of their core audience. In 2005, Bell
made the announcement that he'd been HIV positive since 1998. Two albums appeared that year, Erasure
's Nightbird and his first solo album Electric Blue. Five active years for the band kept Bell away from his solo career until 2010 when his club-oriented album Non-Stop arrived.