The Smiths bassist Andy Rourke has died aged 59

Bandmate Johnny Marr announced the news on social media on Friday.

It was announced on Friday that the bassist for the legendary indie band The Smiths has passed away. Andy Rourke had been battling pancreatic cancer, his bandmate Johnny Marr announced, posting on social media that Andy will be remembered as a kind and beautiful soul by those who knew him and as a supremely gifted musician by music fans. We request privacy at this sad time.”

The Smiths formed around Marr and Morrissey in ‘82, bringing in bassists Steve Pomfret and Dale Hibbert, who was then replaced by Rourke – a school friend of Marr’s since the pair were 11 years old. The two had formed a band earlier on called Freak Party, with Marr’s written tribute to him reading: “We were best friends, going everywhere together. 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.”

Rourke was part of The Smiths throughout their successful career, releasing widely loved hits like ‘This Charming Man’ and ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’. He then continued to play for frontman Morrissey’s solo endeavours after the group disbanded in ‘87. Rourke also played in the supergroup Freebass with fellow Mancunian bassists New Order’s Peter Hook and Stone Roses’ Mani.

Rourke’s illustrious career didn’t stop there, as he recorded with Sinead O’Connor, The Pretenders, and went into the group DARK with the lead vocalist from The Cranberries Dolores O’Riordan. His bass line has defined British indie music far and wide, with four classic albums with The Smiths as well as a slew of one-off singles. 

Tributes across the music industry are being paid to Rourke, with New Order bassist Tom Chapman writing that he was a “true inspiration to me and the reason I moved to Manchester to be a musician. One of the best bass players to come out of Manchester. If it wasn’t for him I probably wouldn’t be in New Order today. My thoughts go to his family and friends.”

Marr ended his tribute by saying that “watching him play those dazzling basslines was an absolute privilege and genuinely something to behold. But one time that always comes to mind was when I sat next to him at the mixing desk watching him play his bass on the song ‘The Queen Is Dead’. It was so impressive that I said to myself: ‘I’ll never forget this moment’.”

WriterElla Chadwick
Banner Image CreditInstagram @andyrourkemusic