Pop Culture

The Smiths Bassist Andy Rourke Dies at 59

Andy Rourke, the bassist for indie-pop legends the Smiths, has died at the age of 56. The news was announced by Johnny Mar in a statement on social media, who said his bandmate’s passing followed “a lengthy illness with pancreatic cancer.”

Rourke joined the Smiths a few months after the band formed in Manchester in 1982, led by singer Morrissey. An old school friend of Marr, Rourke replaced Dale Hibbert, who played the Smiths’ first show. “We were best friends, going everywhere together,” Marr wrote in his tribute. “When we were 15 I moved into his house with him and his three brothers and I soon came to realise that my mate was one of those rare people that absolutely no one doesn’t like. Andy and I spent all our time studying music, having fun and working on becoming the best musicians we could possibly be.”

After signing with Rough Trade Records in 1983, the Smiths released their self-titled debut LP, which was followed by 1985’s Meat Is Murder, 1986’s The Queen Is Dead, and 1987’s Strangeways, Here We Come. Rourke’s intricate, vigorous, and melodic basslines can be heard on songs like ‘Barbarism Begins at Home’, ‘This Charming Man’, ‘There is a Light That Never Goes Out’, ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’, and ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’. The Smiths split up in 1987.

Rourke went on to play and record with Sinead O’Connor, the Pretenders, Ian Brown, and Badly Drawn Boy, as well as in the supergroup Freebass with two fellow Mancunian bassists, New Order’s Peter Hook and the Stone Roses’ Mani. He also formed a trio with the Cranberries vocalist Dolores O’Riordan and DJ Olé Koretsky called D.A.R.K., which released its debut album, Science Agrees, in 2016.

“We maintained our friendship over the years, no matter where we were or what was happening and it is a matter of personal pride as well as sadness that the last time Andy played on stage was with me and my band at Madison Square Garden in September 2022,” Marr’s tribute continued. “It was a special moment that we shared with my family and his wife and soul mate Francesca. Andy will always be remembered as a kind and beautiful soul by everyone who knew him and as a supremely gifted musician by people who love music.”

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