The True Kings of Goth Rock
Well to start off I wasn't always into Goth Rock. When I was younger I was first introduced to another genre, Industrial, through my brother constantly playing Nine Inch Nails, etc. Though by delving back into these bands influences, I discovered bands like Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Big Electric Cat etc. and began my journey into the world of Gothic Rock. Bauhaus were and still are to Gothic Rock what Iggy and the Stooges were/are to Punk, and what Radiohead is to Prog. They originally formed in '78 under the name Bauhaus 1919, but quickly shortened the title.
Their first main hit, and what continues to be their most popular song, was Bela Lugosi's Dead, which is featured in 80's art house esque vampire flick, The Hunger.
For me the great thing about these guys was they split up their songs between gloomy moody pieces (Hollow Hills, Bela Lugosi's Dead) and energetic fun stuff (Kick In The Eye, Telegram Sam (a T. Rex cover). They didn't find it necessary to act completely depressed all the time, as so many bands did later on.
They knew how to have fun, and understood that what they were doing was, somewhat, campy at times. Visually they were very influenced by Bowie's Ziggy persona, with lots of white make-up, choppy hairdo's, and the occasional glam trappings (albeit without the mullet or red hair).
Also at the time they started, Punk was still very influential, and in the beginning some even referred to Goth Rock, as Death Punk, a title which later morphed and became a subgenre of it's own, Deathrock. In style it was similar to Goth Rock, yet more campy and influenced by horror movies.
Antiworld, a great deathrock band from Portland, Oregon
In fact, Bauhaus's Daniel Ash's downstroke guitar playing style was taken straight out of Punk, the main noticeable difference being less thick cords, and a slower, more atmospheric style.
Bauhaus were the Proto-Goths for several main reasons. They were the first to write lyrics about films adopted from Gothic Literature.
They were the ones who made dark romanticism popular, and they started the trend, within the goth scene at least, of wearing all (or at least predominantly) black.
They also of course helped popularize the now omnipresent, whitface make-up.
Also again the musical style itself was very important. The downstroke guitars, the static fuzz (in some cases), the deep bass, the dub influenced bass, the slow ominous thumping beats, the eerie vocals. It may have had been done before at one point or another, but Bauhaus were the ones to put it on the map.
Anyways, It really irritates me that nowadays, thanks to MTV, Hot Topic, etc. bands like, ugh, My Chemical Romance and Marilyn Manson (Manson, whose music I enjoy, but let's face it, he's not Gothic, he's a shock rocker just like Alice Cooper was) are perceived as Gothic. The classic bands are not celebrated or recognized anymore, by the younger folks at least, and were left with this pseudo, media perception for the ingnorant to soak up.