Skip to main content

There are many different types of rock music, perhaps more subgenres than we could even list by name. But, one of the most prolific is gothic rock. Gothic rock emerged from post-punk during the late 1970s in England and went on to become one of the dominant sounds of the 1980s and 1990s. One of the first and most noteworthy gothic rock bands are the Cure, which was formed by Robert Smith. Smith also had a hand in another popular gothic rock group, acting as the lead guitarist for Siouxsie and the Banshees from 1982 to 1984 alongside fellow goth rock legend Siouxsie Sioux. Other founding gothic rock groups include Joy Division, The Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus. 

As time went on, gothic rock expanded and grew. During the 1990s and early 2000s, two of the most impactful gothic rock groups were Type O Negative, led by Peter Steele, and Evanescence, led by Amy Lee. Today, we continue to see influences of the forefathers and foremothers of gothic rock in more contemporary acts such as Chelsea Wolfe, Drab Majesty, Cold Cave and Azar Swan.

Take a look at 50 tattoos inspired by gothic rock legends in the gallery below. Then let us know your favorite group from this list in the comments section on social media.

Type O Negative

Established: 1989

Origin: Brooklyn, New York

Members: Peter Steele (lead vocals, bass), Kenny Hickey (guitar, co-lead vocals), Josh Silver (keyboard, backing vocals), Sal Abruscato (drums)

Top Record: "Bloody Kisses" (1993)

Top Single: "My Girlfriend's Girlfriend" (1996)

Siouxsie and the Banshees

Established: 1976

Origin: London, England

Members: Siouxsie Sioux (vocals), Steven Severin (bass, keyboards) 

Top Record: "Kaleidoscope" (1995)

Top Single: "Hong Kong Garden" (1978)

Joy Division

Established: 1976

Origin: Salford, England

Members: Ian Curtis (vocals), Bernard Sumner (guitar, keyboards), Peter Hook (bass), Stephen Morris (drums)

Top Record: "Unknown Pleasures" (1979)

Top Single: "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (1980)


Established: 1978

Origin: Northampton, England

Members: Daniel Ash (guitar, saxophone), Peter Murphy (vocals), Kevin Haskins (drums), David J (bass)

Top Record: "The Sky's Gone Out" (1982)

Top Single: "Bela Lugosi's Dead" (1979)

The Cure

Established: 1978

Origin: Crawley, England

Members: Robert Smith (lead vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards), Simom Gallup (bass, keyboards), Roger O'Donnell (keyboards), Jason Cooper (drums), Reeves Gabrels (guitar, bass

Top Record: "Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me" (1987)

Top Single: "Boys Don't Cry" (1979)


Established: 1995

Origin: Little Rock, Arkansas

Members: Amy Lee (vocals, piano, keyboards), Ben Moody (guitar)

Top Record: "Fallen" (2003)

Top Single: "Bring Me to Life" (2003)

Depeche Mode

Established: 1980

Origin: Basildon, England

Members: Dave Gahan (lead vocals), Martin Gore (keyboards, guitar, co-vocals), Andy Fletcher (keyboards)

Top Record: "Violator" (1990)

Top Single: "Just Can't Get Enough" (1981)