Johnny Marr, Morrissey, New Order Pay Tribute to the Smiths Bassist Andy Rourke
Tributes have begun to pour in following the death of Andy Rourke, bassist for the Smiths. Rourke died at 59 after a battle with pancreatic cancer, as confirmed by guitarist Johnny Marr on Twitter this morning. Many fellow musicians and collaborators have praised Rourke’s playing and his work with the Smiths.
“Andy will be remembered as a kind and beautiful soul by those who knew him and as a supremely gifted musician by music fans,” Marr noted on Twitter. He shared a much longer memory of his life with Rourke on Instagram.
“I was present at every one of Andy’s bass takes on every Smiths session,” Marr wrote. “Sometimes I was there as the producer and sometimes just as his proud mate and cheerleader. Watching him play those dazzling baselines was an absolute privilege and genuinely something to behold. But one time which 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.’”
Morrissey issued a statement as well, writing on his website, “Sometimes one of the most radical things you can do is to speak clearly. When someone dies, out come the usual blandishments … as if their death is there to be used. I’m not prepared to do this with Andy. I just hope … wherever Andy has gone … that he’s OK. He will never die as long as his music is heard. He didn’t ever know his own power, and nothing that he played had been played by someone else. His distinction was so terrific and unconventional and he proved it could be done. He was also very, very funny and very happy, and post-Smiths, he kept a steady identity — never any manufactured moves. I suppose, at the end of it all, we hope to feel that we were valued. Andy need not worry about that.”
And Smiths drummer Mike Joyce wrote, “Not only the most talented bass player I’ve ever had the privilege to play with but the sweetest, funniest lad I’ve ever met. Andy’s left the building, but his musical legacy is perpetual. I miss you so much already. Forever in my heart mate.”
“Very sorry to hear that Smiths bassist Andy Rourke has passed away,” Billy Bragg wrote. “I have great memories of him playing with Johnny Marr and myself on the Red Wedge tour. He was a lovely guy and an amazing bass player. My condolences to his family and friends.”
“A total one-off – a rare bassist whose sound you could recognise straight away,” recalled Mat Osman of Suede. “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.”
Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch responded to Marr on Twitter, writing, “Such a sad day, a quarter part of the greatest band of all time. A bloody legend! Sending loving thoughts and prayers, Johnny.”
Travis’ Fran Healy also replied, sharing, “Andy was such a lovely gentle soul.”
Rick Astley wrote, “I met Andy with Mike Joyce in LA in the 80s. Such lovely guys, made time to chat to a kid from Newton-le-Willows, Heroes!”
Phil Cunningham, guitarist for New Order, shared a photo of him with Rourke, writing, “Very sad to hear of the passing of Andy Rourke. A kind hearted beautiful person and an awesome talent. Thoughts to all family and friends at this difficult time.”
New Order bassist Tom Chapman also paid his respects. “A true inspiration to me and the reason I moved to Manchester to be a musician,” Chapman wrote. “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.”
“I first met Andy Rourke in 1999 when I was 18 (I was working with him when he played for Aziz Ibrahim),” Jack Mitchell, drummer for Marr’s band, remembered. “I can’t tell you how much he welcomed me with open arms. He was the funniest person I’d ever met and he played and sang along to Bowie’s Hunky Dory on the journeys across the UK. I can’t tell you how much I looked up to him. To be able to play on stage with him 20 years later was a true privilege. One of the greatest.”
Rough Trade Records, which released the Smiths’ self-titled debut LP in 1984, as well as their subsequent albums Meat Is Murder, The Queen Is Dead, and Strangeways, Here We Come, thanked Rourke for his contributions.
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