In his book, Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys, founder member Lol Tolhurst describes Crawley as “a place where it is always raining and a slate grey sky hangs over everything...a suburban swamp built around shops, schools and factories”.
A bit harsh, to be sure, but there are no hard feelings!
Growing up in Crawley clearly did them some good as they produced songs of the calibre of Boys Don’t Cry, Love Cats, Lullaby and Friday I’m In Love.
Now the newly opened Crawley Museum is planning a temporary exhibition celebrating 40 years of the group – and they need your help.
The museum, which is based at The Tree, on the corner of The Boulevard and High Street, is asking people to share any photos, flyers, tickets or posters which might have survived from the band’s early days.
They would also like to hear any memories and anecdotes people have of the new town boys who would go on to conquer the world.
Perhaps you went to St Francis Assisi School with Lol and Robert Smith, or Notre Dame School, where they met Michael Dempsey.
Were you at St Wilfrid’s School with them when they performed their first gig in December 1976 under the name Malice?
Or were you part of the Wasps (Three Bridges) football team in 1975, for whom Robert was a rather useful winger?
Our picture of the team line-up was taken in March of that year before Wasps were beaten 3-2 by Shoreham in the Sussex Minor Cup. The match was played at Haslett Avenue.
Robert is in the back row on the far left, looking away from the camera.
Despite his team’s loss, he seems to have played well. The report read: “The forceful running of Alan Royes and Mick Gray, combined with the devastating wing play of Robert Smith and Dee Martin had kept Shoreham under constant pressure.”
In an interview with the Crawley Observer in 2008, Lol spoke about the very early years when two future musicians met at a very tender age.
He said: “I grew up in Horley, but went to school in Crawley as my mother wanted me to go to a Catholic school.
“Me and Robert actually met on the first day of school at St Francis when we were five-years-old.”
The group looked to some of the best in the business for their inspiration.
Lol said: “We were influenced by people like Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd then later on it all came to fruition with the new punk movement. The Clash playing at the old Leisure Centre was one of the defining moments of my youth. After seeing them I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life.”
When it came to their own music, success did not come overnight.
Lol said: “Before we went full-time with the band I remember I had a job in Manor Royal and we would be playing gigs in Wales, driving half the night to get back at 4am to go to work at 7 am.
“We also had a commitment to our belief in what we were doing. We spent three years at Robert’s parents’ house practicing three times a week before we recorded our first album.
“We first played the Rocket pub in Crawley, by the railway station. We used to hang out at The Apple Tree on Sunday lunch times too. Occasionally the blues guys would let us play a song or two.”
He added: “Looking back on the times it was apparent we were influenced greatly by our surroundings in the same way bands like The Clash were influenced by theirs.
“We even had a song on our first album, Three Imaginary Boys, that was directly inspired by the railway underpass in Horley called Subway Song. All the eccentric characters we grew up around influenced us greatly too.
"Remember, although it was the 70s, Crawley and surrounding areas were still undergoing a lot of changes since World War Two and we were part of that too, I feel.”
The museum is currently only partially open. The Cure exhibition will coincide with its full opening and will run from July 1-22. Opening times are Wednesday to Saturday 10.30am to 4pm, Sunday 2-4.30pm.
In addition it will be open on Monday July 9 and Tuesday July 10 from 10.30am to 4pm. Anyone who can help, is asked to contact the museum on 01293 539088 or by emailing [email protected] .
Pictures courtesy of Jeff Pitcher/Memories of Crawley