Vince Clarke was born as Vincent John Martin on 3 July 1960 in South Woodford, Essex, and was raised in nearby Basildon. It was rumoured that he named himself "Vince Clarke", so he could go on claiming unemployment benefits, around the time of starting DM.
Nothing relevant has been mentioned in the media about his parents, Dennis and Rose Martin. Various sources merely say that Vince's mother complained about the "noise", which came from the keyboards while the band was practising in the room under the one in which she was working.
Vince has two brothers, Rodney and Michael, and a sister, Carol.
There is also little to be found about his childhood. He liked to attend the Boys' Brigade, mainly because of the many activities the children could do there. The first instrument Vince learned was the oboe, then he had a go at the violin and the piano, before he started to learn the guitar.

I have to admit that I wasn't very interested in Vince. His part in DM's history is a small (but nevertheless essential) one, and when I started to write this biography I decided to leave Vince's story aside with Yazoo and Erasure (and the many other projects he did), because it would have taken up too much space, and would have wandered too far away from the thread of DM's story. But this chapter about him was so short that I finally did some research, and found some interviews in which Vince talked about his youth, and how he ended up in DM.

Vince: "There really wasn't that much music in our family when I was a child. When I was about 13 or 14 my mom bought a second-hand radiogram - like a big record player with a radio on it. She had this big collection of 78s, of classical music and singles of songs like Ruby Tuesday by the Rolling Stones. That was really the first time I was exposed to music. Obviously when you're a teenager we used to listen to the radio and the chart show on the Sunday - the top 30 or whatever. My father had a reel-to-reel tape recorder and he had a Frank Sinatra At the Sands [tape] and we used to tape the radio, and he only had one tape. Gradually his recording of Frank Sinatra got smaller and smaller and smaller ... The first record I bought was This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us by Sparks." Or better said: He saved up the money and his sister went to the shop and bought it. "I played it over and over and over again. When I first started working in my teens I bought my first stereo record player. It was life changing. I just couldn't believe stereo - it was so magical.[1] As far as electronic music is concerned, the first band that really made an impression on me was The Human League. Their first two early albums. Bands like Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, they were one of the first bands that I felt made emotional electronic music."[2]

He left school when he was 15. "The first job I had was working in the yogurt factory, loading tureens of milk into the yoghurt machines. After that I worked at a cosmetics company, and I worked for the post office for a bit. I worked for a supermarket, stacking shelves, and I worked in the plastics factory. The best job that I had in my teens - I worked at a small airport near my town. It was my job to empty the buckets of the toilets and also prepare the food for the flight, and also - it was only small airplanes - but when they landed it was my job to get up a ladder and clean the window. I really only worked in order to earn money to buy guitars. I never had any idea of any other career. I didn't really want to be a banker or a civil servant or anything. I just wanted to earn the money to buy the next best guitar or synthesizer."[3]

Vince and Alison Moyet

(with friendly permission of © Paige K. Parsons

Vince left DM at the end of 1981, and started the band Yazoo together with Alison Moyet in 1982. The band dissolved soon after.
He recorded the single Never, Never with singer Feargal Sharkey in 1983 which hit No. 1 on the UK Charts.
From 1983 to 1985 Vince released several singles together with Eric Radcliffe on his own label Reset Records, in addition to an album with Robert Marlow.
Since 1985, Vince has been together with Andy Bell in Erasure, and they have sold more than 25 million records. He carried out several other projects as well, some of them in his studio in Maine, The Cabin. Vince has been living in Maine, USA, since 2003. He married his wife Tracy in 2004. Their son Oscar was born in 2005. He also owns a house in New York City.

In 2008 Yazoo made a comeback and toured.
Vince: "Alison got in touch with me a year and a half before. She wanted to know if I was interested in doing something to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Yazoo. I said, 'No'. I couldn't, I was very busy doing an Erasure tour. At the end of that Andy [Bell] mentioned to me he would like to take a couple of years off to make a solo record so Yazoo fitted in and we got together and did it."
In 2010 Vince started to work on a "dancy" record together with Martin. "It's nothing to do with Depeche Mode. It's a little project that we have got going. We've been collaborating online. It's one of those things where I will send an idea to Martin and it goes back and forth."[4]
They released the EPs/singles Spock, Blip and Aftermath as well as the album Ssss in 2011/12 and chose the name VCMG for the project.

[1] Interview: Erasure's Vince Clarke., 15 July 2007. Words: Dagmar Patterson
[2] Personality Clash: Vince Clarke vs Andy Butler,, 1 February 2010. Words: Robin Murray
[3] Interview: Erasure's Vince Clarke., 15 July 2007. Words: Dagmar Patterson
[4] Music Interview: Vince Clarke, Yazoo. Yorkshire Evening Post, 29 September 2010. Words: uncredited
[5] Dates and information were taken from: Collect-a-Page: VINCE, Look-In, 21 November 1981; Modish Musings, Sounds, 7 November 1981, Words: Uncredited;;;;

Biography: Andrew Fletcher

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