History of the Smiths
Brief history of 1980’s UK indie band The Smiths
Formed in the spring of 1982 in Manchester, England when guitarist Johnny Marr (John Maher, October 31, 1963) author of reviews for Record Mirror and former guitarist in unsuccessful bands was looking for a lyricist and suggested the idea of forming a band to Morrissey (Stephen Patrick Morrissey, May 22, 1959).
By September, the duo had settled on the name “The Smiths” as a reaction against all bands who chose complicated names to emphasise their music, and recruited Marr’s schoolmate Andy Rourke as their bass player and Mike Joyce as their drummer. The Smiths made their live debut late in 1982 and their live appearances were sporadic. At this time they had already rejected a record deal with the Mancunian Factory Records. At the seventh Smiths gig ever in the University of London Union, a group of Rough Trade Records watch the band and invited them to sign a one-off single, “Hand In Glove”.
“Hand in Glove” became an underground sensation in the UK, topping the independent charts, which critics referred to as the finest love song in recent years. When they released the second single “This Charming Man,” in October 1983, the Smiths had already been the subjects of controversy and scandal over their songs “Reel Around The Fountain,” and “Handsome Devil” as possible vehicles for the diffusion of child abuse. In February of 1984 the Smiths released their eponymous debut “The Smiths” the album became a best seller acclaimed by critics and reached number 2.
A couple of months later, the band invited a veteran sixties popstar, Sandie Shaw, to sing some of the smiths songs “Hand In Glove” which reached number 27, “Jeane” and “I Don’t Owe You Anything”. The second single “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” reached number 10. At the end of the year, “William It Was Really Nothing” became a Top 20 hit and the compilation “Hatful of Hollow”, a collection of B-sides, BBC sessions and non-LP singles went to number 7.
Meat is Murder, the band’s second proper studio album, entered the British charts at number one in February of 1985. By the time the non-LP “Shakespeare’s Sister” reached number 26 in March 1985. “The Boy With the Thorn In His Side” reached number 23 was followed in June of 1986 by their third album, “The Queen Is Dead”. Considered by the critic as one of masterpieces of the decade peaked at number two on the UK charts, “The Queen Is Dead” also expanded their cult in the US, cracking the Top 100. Shortly before the album was completed, the band’s line-up goes through a rather unstable stage, Andy Rourke quits for drug addiction and Craig Gannon, an ex Aztec Camera joins the band and became the rhythm guitarist. After a short time, Rourke returns and Gannon was fired.
In latte’s 1986 the singles Panic and Ask are released. Johnny Marr begins his extra Smiths collaborations, taking part in Billy Braggs’ album “Talking With The Taxman About Poetry”. The Smiths may have been at the height of their popularity in early 1987, with the singles “Shoplifters of the World” and “Sheila Take A Bow” reaching number 12 and 10 respectively and the singles and B-sides compilation The World Won’t Listen for the English market and “Louder Than Bombs” for the American one. Marr was growing increasingly disenchanted with the band and the music industry, over the course of the year, Morrissey and Marr became increasingly irritated with each other.
The new album “Strangeways Here We Come” is the band’s last. In August, Johnny Marr confesses to have abandoned the band, the official split is however in September, Morrissey disbanded the group shortly afterward and began an inconstant solo career. Marr played as a sideman with a variety of artists, including The The and Electronic with New Order frontman Bernard Summer. Andy Rourke retired from recording has played with Sinead O’Connor and Joyce became a member of the reunited Buzzcocks in 1991. The live album “Rank” recorded on the Queen is Dead tour, was released in the fall of 1988. It debuted at number two in the UK top. A much criticised, two-part Best of compilation was released in 1 992; the praised Singles compilation was released in 1995. Despite this short history, “The Smiths” were and will be one of the best bands ever.