Ongoing History Daily: The origin of the term “Goth”

Have you ever wondered where the term “goth” came from? Most people assume that it was derived from the term “English gothic” which described a style of writing in the 19th century: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (for sure) and perhaps Wuthering Heights (maybe) by Emily Bronte. But Ian Astbury of The Cult once put forward another theory. 

“The goth tag was a bit of a joke,” he says.  “[In the early 80s], Andi from the [band] Sex Gang Children used to dress like Siouxsie Sioux.  I used to call him the ‘gothic goblin’ and he lived in an apartment building called “Visigoth Towers.’ So he was the Gothic Goblin and his followers were Goths.”  And according to Ian, that’s when the word “goth” started being used to describe everyone from Bauhaus to the Cure to the Sisters of Mercy.


Yesterday’s episode looked at the an actual champagne supernova.

And don’t forget to check out my podcast The Ongoing History of New Music where you listen on SpotifyApple PodcastsGoogleStitcher, or wherever you get your on-demand audio.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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