In the realm of British music, there are few bands that have left a mark quite like The Smiths. Some would call them legends of the underground, while some would say they they are higher than the most well known of pop stars. With their unique blend of poetic lyricism, melancholic melodies, and a distinctive sound that defied categorization, they became an emblem of the 1980s alternative music scene. Sadly, Andy Rourke, the bass guitarist of The Smiths, has passed away at the age of 59.
As reported by NBC, Johnny Marr, Rourke’s former bandmate and an extraordinary guitarist and songwriter in his own right, took to Instagram to pay a heartfelt tribute to his dear friend. Marr’s words offered a glimpse into their shared history
While the songwriting collaboration between Marr and the enigmatic frontman, Morrissey, captured much of the spotlight, the foundation of The Smiths’ sound lay in Rourke’s basslines and the absolute on time sound he shared with drummer Mike Joyce. Together, created what we know today as The Smiths.
While The Smiths have had their share of drama from the band to Morrisey, they always did want the best for one another and this one truly is a blow to all the members of the band. In fact, Morrissey himself has released a statement which reads: “Sometimes one of the most radical things you can do is to speak clearly. When someone dies, out come the usual blandishments … as if their death is there to be used. I’m not prepared to do this with Andy. I just hope … wherever Andy has gone … that he’s OK.
He continued: “He will never die as long as his music is heard. He didn’t ever know his own power, and nothing that he played had been played by someone else. His distinction was so terrific and unconventional and he proved it could be done. He was also very, very funny and very happy, and post-Smiths, he kept a steady identity – never any manufactured moves. I suppose, at the end of it all, we hope to feel that we were valued. Andy need not worry about that.”
Marr, reflecting on their shared journey, emphasized the privilege of witnessing Rourke’s bass takes during every Smiths recording session.
After parting ways with The Smiths, Rourke continued to make his mark on music, collaborating with renowned acts such as The Pretenders, Sinead O’Connor, and the supergroup Freebass, comprised of talents like Gary Mounfield from The Stone Roses and Peter Hook from New Order, Rourke’s bass skills resonated across genres and generations.
Today is a very sad dad for music fans all over the world who have looked up to Rourke and the mark that he has left on music. We wish his loved ones the best.