Depeche Mode: Dave Gahan

Depeche Mode's Martin Gore and Dave Gahan performing "Personal Jesus" at the MAP/MusiCares fundraiser in Los Angeles, in 2011
Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore and Dave Gahan performing “Personal Jesus” at the MAP/MusiCares fundraiser in Los Angeles, in 2011

(UPDATE 12/2020: I fixed the busted Reuters link) at the bottom of the story)

I first wrote about Depeche Mode frontman Dave Gahan in 1995, when he attempted suicide by slashing his wrist. This is the story:

Suicide try puts Depeche Mode leader in hospital
LOS ANGELES, Aug 21 (Reuter) – David Gahan, leader of the top-selling British pop band Depeche Mode, is recovering in hospital after trying to commit suicide, authorities said on Monday.

Police responded to an emergency call at the singer’s Los Angeles home last Thursday and found he had slashed his wrist with a razor blade.

“He sustained a two-inch (five cm) laceration to his wrist,” said Detective Joel Brown of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Department. “It wasn’t like he was dying.”

Gahan, 33, is currently at Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where he is being evaluated for mental competency, Brown said.

A spokeswoman at Cedars-Sinai referred all calls to Gahan’s New York publicist, Michael Pagnotta, who said the incident was a “private matter.”

Depeche Mode, best known for songs such as “Just Can’t Get Enough” and “Personal Jesus”, have sold millions of records and packed stadiums since the early 1980s. Depeche Mode’s highly-stylized techno-pop sound, like that of other bands such as OMD and The Cure, touched a chord among disaffected young people and remains a staple of modern-rock radio.

Almost 16 years later, in May 2011, I finally met Dave when he was being honored at the annual fundraiser for MAP/MusiCares, a music industry charity that helps people in the business with addiction and other issues. He spoke to me before the event started:


“Really not so much anymore, to be honest. I pop up now and then again but it’s been a while. I’ve learned here, from other people, that you have to actuate into the right kind of thinking. If I start listening to my head I’m gonna get myself in trouble, so I don’t stay too far away. I stay close to the friends that I’ve made here, same in New York where I live. Really, it’s just part of my life, but I don’t think about it so much anymore. It’s nice not to have that obsession on my back all the time.”


“People, places and things. You sit in a barber shop long enough you’re gonna get a fuckin’ haircut! You know what I mean? I don’t do that. I don’t hang out with people that are getting high, ‘cos I’m not that strong. It’s fun to party and I had a lot of fun. I kinda used up all my chips in that department.”

Inside the Club Nokia venue, alcohol was off the menu out of respect to all the people in recovery. In years past, I used to see people like Motörhead’s Lemmy wander the place in a sad daze. Once or twice, I brought in a flask of Jack Daniel’s.

Anyway, Steven Tyler presented the award to Dave. The Aerosmith singer said, “One of the hardest things an addict can do is to get sober and to stay clean.” A women yelled out, “One day at a time” and Tyler replied “Yeah, yeah baby!”

And this is Dave’s speech:

“I don’t really know why I’m here, but I am. I’m enjoying life, life’s amazing. That’s something I found out. Steven, actually, I don’t know if you remember, but he accosted me in a bar one night, somewhere like Chicago or something, but he wasn’t drinking and I was. I was sitting in a bar and time went on, and there was this guy annoying me, talking to me. Apparently it was Steven Tyler, fucking with my drinking. Not good right? Anyway, that was a long time ago and I’m blessed to be here, as we all are. I just want you to have fun and enjoy tonight. This is a great cause and we’re helping people, so that’s gotta be good, right? Enjoy!”

The evening was capped by Dave and an all-star band doing covers (David Bowie’s “Cracked Actor,” Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” Mark Lanegan’s “Low,” the Damned’s “New Rose”), solo material (“Dirty Sticky Floors,” “Saw Something”) and Depeche Mode songs (“I Feel You” and “Personal Jesus”—the latter featuring Depeche Mode bandmate Martin Gore on acoustic guitar).

I taped the whole thing. Yeah, baby! And this is the story I did for Reuters. I’m happy to be a civilian again, but I do miss these special, one-off industry things.


NOTE: Unrelated to the above story, my gossipy rock bio Strange Days: The Adventures of a Grumpy Rock ‘n’ Roll Journalist in Los Angeles is now available here at Amazon. For more info, go to

Copyright © 2011, 2014 by Dean Goodman. PLEASE DO NOT CUT AND PASTE THE WHOLE THING

Dean Goodman