4 Songs You Didn’t Know The Cult’s Ian Astbury Wrote for Other Artists

As singer and chief songwriter of The Cult for more than 40 years, Ian Astbury has written, along with guitarist Billy Duffy, some of the most memorable and intoxicating rock songs in the 1980s, ’90s, and through the present day with the band’s 11th album, Under the Midnight Sun, in 2022.

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After breaking from the short-lived post-punk band Southern Death Cult in the early ’80s, Astbury formed an earlier iteration of the band as Death Cult. Eventually, Astbury and co. defined themselves as The Cult and released their 1984 debut, Dreamtime.

More mercurial than the metal that began ripening throughout the ’80s, The Cult always cultivated their own harder, psychedelic-spun rock with Duffy and Astbury’s “Love Removal Machine,” “She Sells Sanctuary,” and “Sweet Soul Sister,” and more Cult classics.

On the fringe of The Cult, Astbury also performed with the band Holy Barbarians and released his solo album, Spirit\Light\Speed, in 2000. Astbury’s outside collaborations over years also span work with Metallica, members of Guns N’ Roses and Black Sabbath, Debbie Harry, Nine Inch Nails, and The Fuzztones, among other artists.

Astbury has also written a few songs outside of his Cult confines.

Here’s a look into four songs he wrote for other artists.

1. “Get Ready,” Steve Jones (1989)
Written by Ian Astbury and Steve Jones

Former Sex Pistols guitarist, and founding member, Steve Jones released his second album, Fire and Gasoline, and enlisted a few well-known names, including Mötley Crüe‘s Nikki Sixx and Axl Rose.

Astbury co-produced the album and also co-wrote two tracks with Jones: “Leave Your Shoes On” and “Get Ready.” The latter track features The Cult’s guitarist Billy Duffy.

Now I’m back, I’m on the attack I got a six-string in my hand
I’ve been away for a little while, longer than I had planned
Total control is what I desire gonna set the world alight
Stand up baby let your hair hang down, there’s gonna be some action tonight
From the eye of the hurricane, I was born to boogie baby
I tell you right now, vengeance is my middle name

2. “Flame On,” Tony Iommi (2000)
Written by Ian Astbury, Tony Iommi, and Bob Marlette 

In 1995, Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi released his first solo album and pulled in a collection of contributors on each track. On Iommi, each track was co-written by the guitarist with a different singer, who is also featured on their respective song, with contributions from Ozzy Osbourne, Dave Grohl, Billy Idol, the late Type-O Negative singer Peter Steele, Henry Rollins, Pantera’s Phil Anselmo, and Smashing Pumpkins‘ Billy Corgan, among others. 

Astbury co-wrote and performed on the Iommi track “Flame On,” which also features Queen’s Brian May on guitar and Pearl Jam drummer Matt Cameron.

I am one, one that shines
Yeah, I was born of a scorpion´s mind
I am one, so alive
Don´t try to teach me what your lips can´t decide

I´m the sun, so alive
A simple breath´s all I need to get by
Words you speak are like dirt in my mind
I´m gonna burn till all the stars die

3. “Burn My Shadow,” UNKLE, featuring Ian Astbury (2007)
Written by Ian Astbury, Richard File, James Lavelle, Chris Goss

Astbury co-wrote and appears on two songs off the British electronic group UNKLE’s third album, War Stories—”When Things Explode” and “Burn My Shadow.”

The latter track was released as a single and was used in several video games (Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood), along with spots in film, television, and even car commercials for Mercedes and Ford.

I have burned my tomorrows
And I stand inside today
At the edge of the future
And my dreams all fade away
I have burned my tomorrows
And I stand inside today
At the edge of the future
And my dreams all fade away

4. “Ghost,” Slash, featuring Ian Astbury (2010)
Written by Ian Astbury and Slash

For Slash’s debut solo album, most of the original Appetite for Destruction-era founding members of Guns N’ Roses—Duff McKagan, Izzy Stradlin, and Steven Adler—were on board. Other special guests and co-writers included Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy Kilmister, Dave Grohl, Chris Cornell, Iggy Pop, and even Fergie and Adam Levine.

Opening the album is the harder, Cult-ish “Ghost,” co-written by Astbury and Slash.

“Ian and I have a long history,” said Slash in 2010. “Guns N’ Roses’ first tour of Canada and the U.S. was with The Cult. Those guys had been around, and we were this crazy upstart band that they took out with them. I always thought Ian was great and when I finished the music to ‘Ghost,’ he came to mind instantly, probably because of the chord changes.”

Slash added, “I hadn’t talked to him in a while, and I felt sort of embarrassed to send it to him. One of the things I had to get over making this record was getting the nerve up to go after these people, but he’s an amazing singer. To be in the studio and watch him work was definitely a very cool experience.”

Wipe the blood from your halo
Open wound that you hide, your shadow’s pride
Spit in the face of the ugly clown
Who’ll hunt you down, but you can’t hide
Exterminate the future

Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images

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