"The Smiths": a five-year history of the band

Despite all the contradictions of the members, The Smiths knew how to make excellent music. The group broke up a long time ago, but its history continues to captivate young musicians even now.

The Complete History of The Smiths: How They Influenced British Music History

The immemorial 80s, especially their very dawn and middle, are difficult to name notable for such a British trend as guitar indie rock music. The most prominent names can easily be listed - "Madness", "Cure", "New Order", "Specials", "Wedding Present". This is where the list ends. But against the background of the legends mentioned above, the name of another band, whose success and influence spread far beyond the era, could deservedly remain in history.

Appearing on the world stage in 1982, The Smiths live buried leading electronic new wave, becoming the founders of the guitar indie pop genre. The one we all know very well today.

The Smiths outside the Salford Lads Club. Photo: Stephen Wright
"The Smiths" near the Salford Lads Club. Photo: Stephen Wright

Education The Smiths

The backbone of the team were Melody Maker journalist (and New York Dolls fan who led the UK branch of their fan club) Stephen Patrick Morissey, former frontman of a punk rock band, and guitarist/songwriter John Maher, who became known as Johnny Marr avoids himself confusion with the drummer "Buzzcocks", full namesake.

Taking on the simple name of "Blacksmiths", in the midst of the formation of pop culture of the 80s with its eloquent slogans and insanely meaningless, but damn sticky hits - from the very first day of their existence, The Smiths declared themselves as a storehouse of contradictions. Moreover, this applies both to the interpersonal relations of the group members, primarily Johnny Marr and Morrissey, and to the latter's personality itself. To this day, the vocalist of the famous band remains one of the most controversial, but at the same time attractive and influential people in the world of alternative music.

the smiths
The Smiths

Kuznets decided to perform something between post-punk, pop and alternative. Often the group focused on Morrissey's vocal abilities, as well as on provocative, sharply social texts that make fun of British society, the government, the monarchy, and a number of other issues.

Band album "Meat Is Murder" reached not only the first line in the English charts, but also became popular in America. Then The Smiths conquer English-speaking space, both in the USA and in England, and meanwhile they are recording the next studio album.

Johnny Marr can be described as very rock and roll musician and songwriter, as well as a very loving and sociable person who is not averse to "rolling" a glass or two. In terms of his personal qualities, he acted as a contrast to the vocalist of the Morrissey group, who was always in an incomprehensible, sentimental and very vulnerable. Morrissey can be called a kind of aloof poet who created romanticized masterpieces under the influence of Oscar Wilde.

But despite all shyness Morrissey, who looked more like an insecure romantic loser, had a tougher streak in his inner world. How many accusations of all sorts of sins gave rise to his ironic works! They repeatedly touched upon the topic of British nationalism and racism, and there were good reasons for that: the performer never hid, but on the contrary, expressed his contempt to reggae, blues and other "dirty" Negro music. The guy has repeatedly advertised his position.

Take a look at "Panic", which had a generous echo of the economic crisis and racial unrest in the United Kingdom in the 80s. Morrissey did not belong to skinheads, but active supported their position.

All this constantly caused a mass within the team conflicts. Like corrosive acid, personal contradictions corroded the team and eventually led to its irreversible disintegration.

"The Smiths" lasted not for long, however, they had enough five yearsto leave behind a rich, and most importantly, truly valuable legacy. The guys managed to release four studio albums, several generous collections and a lot of wonderful singles that hit the bull's-eye, tightly sowing in the minds of the out-of-the-box British youth of the 80s.

It was the creations of "Kuznetsov" that became a model, a win-win coordinate system for subsequent English successors of the indie rock style.

One critic was notedthat absolutely all British pop of the 90s was created by guys who idolized Smiths. However, many of them wanted to sound exactly like a cool sociable guitarist, rather than an abstruse, eternally detached and immersed in his thoughts vocalist (well, except for "Suede" and "Gene" - obvious exceptions).

The band was assembled in 1982. It was then that they met so different, but equally passionate about music - Johnny Marra and Morrissey. At that time, the guys were already in full swing in circles close to the music industry.

Even in his youth, Stephen Patrick Morrissey often sent their poems in "Melody Maker," and it is worth noting that they are repeatedly fell to the pages of the publication!

As for Johnny Marr, this cheerful and sociable reveler managed to hone his guitar skill, performing with obscure Manchester indie bands such as Sister Ray or White Dice.

The year was drawing to a close, and the band was finally has stopped on a well-known name "Smiths". In the same period, Andy Rourke (bassist) and Mike Joyce (drummer) replenished the line-up.

The Smiths

The first successes of the group

At first, the "Blacksmiths" performed in well-known English clubs. Young, energetic, with excellent musical abilities and a sense of rhythm - the guys very quickly became interested in all sorts of record companies. But at the same time they were very selective, which is not typical for beginners.

The group was rejected Factory label offer. The guys decided to release the first single on "Rough Trade". So the track "Hand in Glove" was born, which, although not has reached the desired commercial success, yet fulfilled its main task - attracted the lively attention of the public.

Frequent interviews began, in which the vocalist, without a drop of hesitation, expressed his by no means indisputable and often unpopular views, which also led hype around the team.

Over the next few years, more were released several singles - "This Charming Man" and "What Difference Does It Make". With their help, the group finally made a triumphant breakthrough into the mainstream. Almost every new single "Smiths" hit the top 30. But as regards album, then it took several attempts and a whole year of time to record it.

The album "The Smiths" was ready only in March 1984. However, the long wait had no effect on success: the record took a worthy second position in the English chart.

It was they who provoked a real flurry accusations towards Morrissey. The audience took the message of the songs as support and justification abuse and sexual exploitation of children.

The Smiths at the hotel
The Smiths at the hotel

Soon there was released double-sided disc "Hatful of Hollow", which harmoniously intertwined radio sessions and other non-album works of the group. This compilation was the first of its kind, which the group will have more several. The work also made it into the top 10.

February 1985 was marked by way out "Meat Is Murder" - the second program album, whose title is brighter than any statements testified to Morrissey's vegetarian beliefs. Plate conquered audiences with undeniable masterpieces such as How Soon Is Now? and Headmaster Ritual.

Composition Success approved "The Smiths" as the leaders of indie rock style in England. It is worth noting that the success of the team encouraged a huge following, including The Housemartins and The Wonder Stuff.

Meanwhile, the euphoria of success was interrupted disagreements groups. While Marr stuck to the traditional rock 'n' roll lifestyle of making countless buddies, having fun in his spare time, and "wasting" his creative potential to perform with other musicians, Morrissey increasingly took on the signs of a very complex and ambiguous figure.

Morrissey increasingly took an active part in the public and political sphere of life, diligently imposing his point of view on others. It is clear that this is a lot of "strained» the rest of the group.

The next studio work called "The Queen Is Dead" dropped Call all the "foreign" influences trying to change the style of native English music. This is a very hard album. came out into the light in the summer of 1986, becoming for critics and fans a creative the apogee of "The Smiths".

Shortly after the release of the record, the band went into the world tour, taking Craig Gannon as a second guitarist. At the end of the tour, a powerful blow hit the group - Johnny Marr was imprisoned for a long time in a hospital ward due to serious injuries sustained in a car accident. As for Rourke and Gannon, they were fired due to drug addiction. True, the bassist was eventually restored.

Photo shoot of The Smith at an abandoned building
The Smiths photo shoot at an abandoned building

In the spring of 1987, the world public immediately saw several collections previously unreleased tracks, namely "The World Won't Listen" and "Louder Than Bombs". The second work, in fact, was an extended American version of the first. During this same period, the band was hard at work on their fourth studio album, as well as steadily approaching a breakup.

Especially to escalate the situation began Johnny Marr. guitar player declaredthat there is not enough room for his genius in the group and that Morrissey allegedly refuses to explore new musical areas, and generally prevents Marr from participating in side projects.

One way or another, and the farewell work of The Smiths called "Strangeways, Here We Come", for the last time recorded guys with Stephen Street as their producer, was successfully completed. Almost immediately after the release, the album went to number two in Britain. Yes, perhaps in some ways he was inferior to "The Queen Is Dead", but the brightness and charm in his tracks was more than enough.

The breakup of the group and the life of the members after "The Smiths"

Two weeks before the release of the record, the band announced decay. The initiator officially counts Johnny Marr, who referred to the "stagnation" in the band's musical development. A parting gift for the public was the collection of live performances "Rank", which, by tradition, already became the second in the UK album chart.

Morrissey began to practice solo career. Until the end of the nineties, the musician released excellent tracks that were much more popular in the USA than in his homeland. And this despite the fact that for the Americans the Smiths were nothing more than "a well-known band in a narrow circle of fans."

As for Johnny Marr, he became a permanent guitarist "The The", without stopping in parallel to participate in other projects, the most famous of which can be called "Electronic". At the beginning of the 2000s, the musician founded the Johnny Marr & The Healers band.

Because of their enormous contribution to culture, even now, so many years after the breakup, there are a lot of labels offering The Smiths unimaginable fees for a possible reunion. But Morrissey doesn't really care about money, he has always been of the opinion that the history of "The Smiths" ended back in the 80s.

Perhaps this is even the right decision, because the conflicts between the musicians would still not allow creating the music that the group created at the start. Members back then, in the 80s, became too different and too far away departed from each other in their views on music and creativity.

The Smiths left indelible footprint in the history of British music. This team became the first whose periodically re-released albums invariably fall into the top 40! For several decades the legacy of "The Smiths" continues to dictate the guitar musical fashion of Foggy Albion.

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