jakub | May 19, 2023

Tributes paid to The Smiths bassist Andy Rourke, who has died

Andy Rourke, bassist for The Smiths, has died. He was 59.

Rourke’s death was announced today (May 19) by former bandmate Johnny Marr on social media. Per Marr’s statement, Rourke died following “a lengthy illness with pancreatic cancer”.

Marr also paid tribute to his former bandmate, writing: “Andy will be remembered as a kind and beautiful soul by those who knew him and as a supremely gifted musician by music fans.”

Rourke was best known for being the main bassist for The Smiths between 1982 and 1986, and again from 1986 to 1987. Rourke performed on all four of The Smiths’ studio albums: 1984’s ‘The Smiths’, 1985’s ‘Meat Is Murder’, 1986’s ‘The Queen Is Dead’ and 1987’s ‘Strangeways, Here We Come’.

Outside of The Smiths, Rourke also formed and performed with supergroup Freebass alongside New Order’s Peter Hook and the Stone Roses’ Mani. He also recorded with The Pretenders for their 1994 record ‘Last of the Independents’, Killing Joke, and Moondog One with former Oasis guitarist Bonehead.

Rourke met Marr at the age of 11, with the pair jamming together in the music room at their school. Four years later, after leaving school, Rourke formed The Smiths in Manchester with Marr, Morrissey and drummer Mike Joyce in 1982.

Following the news of Rourke’s death, several musicians and members of the industry have taken to social media to pay tribute to the late bassist.

The Smiths producer Stephen Street wrote: “I am so saddened to hear this news! Andy was a superb musician and a lovely guy. I haven’t been able to read any other news about details yet but I send my deepest condolences and thoughts to his friends and family. RIP”.

Suede bassist Mat Osman wrote: “A total one-off – a rare bassist whose sound you could recognise straight away. I remember so clearly playing that Barbarism break over and over, trying to learn the riff, and marvelling at this steely funk driving the track along.”

New Order bassist Tom Chapman wrote: “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.”

This is a developing story. 

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