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The Cure Co-Founder Lol Tolhurst Tells a Story of 'Love & Redemption' in New Book 'Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys'

Lol Tolhurst
Josh Telles

Lol Tolhurst

When drummer Lol Tolhurst was fired in 1989 from The Cure, the band he founded with Robert Smith in 1976, it was an event of particularly tragic proportions. They were about to go from being what he describes as a “pop phenomenon” to international superstars, on the strength of what many (including Kyle from South Park) considered to be one of the greatest albums ever made.

In his fascinating new book, Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys, he describes in painful detail the deepening alienation he felt from the group as the appropriately titled Disintegration was in its final mixes. At that time he was falling deeper into the abyss of alcoholism. 

“I was most certainly disintegrating,” he recalls with a hint of melancholy in his voice. “Emotionally and physically it was all falling apart, I was there, but I wasn’t there. So hearing the finished record for me was very sad; it didn’t feel like a Cure record anymore, because I didn’t feel a part of it.”

The book is unique in that it doesn’t follow the hackneyed rock 'n' roll story arc. Rather, he quite effectively captures the emotional peaks and valleys -- from coming to grips with being youthful outsiders in the English suburb of Crawley, to the electricity of the punk explosion to the excitement and camaraderie of being a new band at such a revolutionary time in music.

“I wanted to explain the whole process of the genesis of a band,” he says. “We were only 19 years old, and it was brand-new to us.”

The book also details some of the band’s early “hallelujah” moments -- how listening to Nick Drake and David Bowie’s Low led to what was to become one of the holy trinities of post-punk: the albums Seventeen Seconds (1980), Faith (1981) and Pornography (1982).

Tolhurst admits, “Robert and I talked a lot about death at that time. But I was always opposed to people saying it was depressing music. In fact, it was about confronting and dealing with those emotions.”

The Cure made the slow and steady rise to success through the '80s, shedding their cult status and eventually playing, as he recounts, “to crowds of screaming young girls.” Boosted, of course, by the advent of MTV -- which made them channel favorites. 

As his alcoholism took over his life, though, he became estranged from the band -- and was dismissed at the height of their popularity.

As often happens, he sued his former band in 1991. And Cured goes into vivid detail about Tolhurst’s deeply conflicted state during that time. He admits that for three weeks in a courtroom, he and Smith couldn’t even look each other in the eye. 

“I reached a point where I didn’t want to go through with it,” he confesses. “But the whole thing about the English legal system is, once you start down the path, you really can’t stop it.”

He also bravely recounts his struggle on the way to recovery -- which eventually led to a reconciliation with Smith, and The Cure’s successful 2011 Reflections tour, which included Tolhurst for the first time in over 20 years.

He philosophically concludes, “Part of recovering from alcoholism is setting right all the wrongs that you’ve done. So I contacted Robert and said I was sorry. And because he’s my friend, he forgave me. I eventually came to realize that the things that are important are love and redemption and the happiness that you get from being a part of something.”