Depeche Mode // are an English electronic music band formed in 1980 in Basildon, Essex. The group's original line-up consisted of Dave Gahan (lead vocals, occasional songwriter since 2005), Martin Gore (keyboards, guitar, vocals, chief songwriter after 1981), Andy Fletcher (keyboards), and Vince Clarke (keyboards, chief songwriter 1980-81). Depeche Mode released their debut record in 1981, Speak & Spell, bringing the band onto the English new wave scene. Clarke left the band after the release of the album, leaving the band as a trio to record A Broken Frame, released the following year. Alan Wilder (keyboards, drums, occasional songwriter) officially joined the band afterward, replacing Clarke, while Gore took over lead songwriting duties, establishing a line up that would continue for the next thirteen years.
The band's last albums of the 1980s; Black Celebration and Music for the Masses established them as a dominant force on the mainstream electronic music scene. A highlight of this era was the band's concert at the Pasadena Rose Bowl where they drew a crowd in excess of 60,000 people. In the new decade, Depeche Mode released Violator, catapulting them to massive mainstream success. The subsequent album, Songs of Faith and Devotion and the supporting Devotional Tour exacerbated tensions within the band to the point where Alan Wilder quit in 1995, leading to intense media and fan speculation that the band would split. Now a trio once again, the band released Ultra in 1997, recorded at the height of Gahan's near-fatal drug abuse, Gore's alcoholism and Fletcher's depression. The release of confirmed Depeche Mode's willingness to remain together, the subsequent, and very successful, being their first tour in eight years since the Devotional Tour.
The lead vocalist or lead vocal is the member of a band who sings the main solo vocal portions of a song. The lead vocalist may also play one or more instruments, and is usually the "leader" of their group, often the spokesman in interviews and before the public. The lead vocalist is sometimes referred to as the frontman.
In certain types of music, notably soul and Motown, there is a line-up of a lead vocalist with a named group of backing vocalists (Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Diana Ross & the Supremes, Gladys Knight & the Pips). Such line-ups can be very fluid, with both the lead vocalist and the backing group pursuing independent careers; and frequent personnel changes are not uncommon. While members of backing bands were often replaceable, the lead singer would be regarded as having a more marketable name and would have to hire or fire backing musicians at will. Cases of backing bands "defecting" to rival vocalists were rarer, but did happen on occasion as seen by Tony Orlando and Dawn.