Lol Tolhurst has gone through the kind of rock star redemption that’s custom-built for a tell-all memoir.
With his buddy Robert Smith, the author co-founded the Cure, a band that, during Tolhurst’s decade-long tenure, traveled a path from razor-wire post-punk to more atmospheric territory to pop stardom and back again. All the while, Tolhurst developed a crippling addiction to alcohol that eventually rendered him completely ineffective during sessions for the group’s 1989 breakthrough album Disintegration and led to his firing. He went through legal battles with Smith over royalties, got sober, and then found a new life for himself in Los Angeles, where he makes music with his wife and supports his son’s fledgling artistic career.
With such a knotty but fascinating life, it’s no surprise Tolhurst has finally set his story down on paper in the form of his recently released memoir, Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys. But why did it take so long?
“I don’t think I would have really had the correct perspective in years past,” he says, speaking from his home in LA. “I’m really aware that I couldn’t have written this in my thirties because I would have been too close to events to see them with a clearer perspective now that I’m in my late fifties.”
The perspective he’s gained makes for a remarkably clear-eyed book. Cured has the punch and economy of a Mickey Spillane novel, landing hard on the incidents that formed Tolhurst’s personality and informed his art. That includes some truly moving moments spent recounting his strained relationship with his father, his reconciliation with Smith, and his brief yet triumphal return to the band for a series of shows in Australia.
Unlike some of the score-settling memoirs of recent vintage, Tolhurst directs all regret and frustration toward himself. He realizes now how far afield he’s gone, even expressing relief at losing a lawsuit against Smith; he now sees it as a misguided attempt to vent his anger at being booted from the band.
“I have no problem telling people about my failings,” Tolhurst says. “To me, that’s my greatest asset. I wanted this to be truthful. I don’t want to be pompous enough to say Pilgrim’s Progress. My idea was to go, ‘This is what my life has been like and this is where it’s brought me.’ And, ultimately, it’s been good. It’s been great.”
Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys
by Lol Tolhurst
(Da Capo Press)