Bassist Andy Rourke of The Smiths dies

Andy Rourke, bassist for The Smiths, one of the most influential British bands of the 1980s, has died after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, his former bandmate Johnny Marr said on Friday. He was 59 years old.

In a lengthy post on Instagram, Marr, who is a guitarist and songwriter, paid tribute to Rourke, whom he met when they were both in elementary school in 1975.

“Throughout our teenage years we played in various bands around South Manchester before establishing our reputation with The Smiths from 1982 to 1987, and it was on those Smiths records that Andy reinvented what it is to be a bassist,” said Marr.

During their brief stint as a four-piece band, The Smiths deliberately stayed away from the mainstream of popular music, earning a cult following in the independent music scene.

Although much of the attention was focused on the songwriting duo of Marr and bandleader Steven Patrick Morrissey, better known as Morrissey, the sound of The Smiths owed much to the bass of Rourke and his partner in the rhythm section, drummer Mike Joyce.

As their popularity grew, the band released some of the most enduring British songs of the 1980s, including “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” and “Girlfriend In A Coma.”

The Smiths’ songs earned a reputation for being downbeat, but they were actually darkly humorous and accompanied by soulful melodies. His albums, including “The Queen is Dead” and “Meat is Murder”, continue to be adored by music lovers and part of the vinyl record renaissance.

“I was there for every one of Andy’s bass takes at every Smiths session,” Marr said. “Sometimes I was there as a producer and sometimes just as his proud partner and cheerleader. Watching him play those dazzling bass chords was an absolute privilege and truly something to behold.”

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Marr said that he and Rourke remained friends in the years after the band broke up, recalling that Rourke played with his group at Madison Square Garden in September 2022.

“It was a special moment that we shared with my family and his wife and soul mate Francesca,” said Marr. “Andy will always be remembered as a kind and beautiful soul by all who knew him, and as a supremely gifted musician by people who love music. Well done Andy. We will miss you brother.”

After his time with The Smiths, Rourke played with The Pretenders and Sinead O’Connor, as well as the super band Freebass, which included Gary Mounfield of the Stone Roses and Peter Hook of New Order.

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