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No one individual had a more profound effect on 80’s pop than Vince. In terms of synth pop, he is Zeus, Apollo and Dionysus rolled into one. A large portion of my adolescent soundtrack – and those of other high-energy, low self-esteem members of the northeastern elite – was created as a result of his genius.

Clarke was a founding member of all three members of the Brit electro-pop trinity – the doomtastic Depeche Mode, the ever-so-soulful Yaz, and the passion-soaked Erasure: three great tastes that can be enjoyed separately but taste even greater together. His progress through these world-changing groups reflects the cultural changes of the 1980s: post punk to post disco, anti-war to pro-gay, leather to spandex. Though the singers – Dave Gahan, Alison Moyet, and Andy Bell – get most of the attention, without Vince, all three of them would probably be waiting tables at some London yuppie pub or teaching music in the Midlands. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that…)

My summer camp peer group introduced me to all three groups in 1987. Significantly, that was the first summer I spent at ECCC (ask your friends who grew up in Connecticut, they’ll know) during which I did not feel as if I were being punished by God – or the lion’s share of my fellow campers – for being black, precocious and unathletic. During rest hour, instead of lying on my bunk watching other girls whisper secrets to each other, I sat with some other oddballs, listening to “Bad Connection” on cassette. When I was browbeaten into going on an overnight canoe trip, “Black Celebration” was the accompaniment for my ever-increasing antiauthoritarian hostility. And when “Victim of Love” was played at our Friday-night dances, I stopped caring whether the boy I liked was paying attention to the way my shirt was tucked into my jeans. I was no longer a mere misfit…I was a member of the Church of Misfit.

Soul…I hear you calling
Oh baby please
Give a little respect to me

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