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The Fall’s Brix Smith: Mark E. Smith ‘Defied Convention and Definition’

Former member of the Fall remembers band leader’s “singularity of vision” following death

Mark E. Smith and Brix Smith Start of The Fall, circa 1985.

Brix Smith Start, a former member of the Fall, remembered lead singer Mark E. Smith, who died this week.

Lisa Haun/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Brix Smith Start paid tribute to the Fall’s Mark E. Smith, her former bandmate and husband who died Wednesday at the age of 60.

Writing on Twitter, Start called Smith “a true artist” and applauded his willingness to “defy convention and definition.” “He never once compromised,” she wrote. “How many others can leave this life with such a singularity of vision?”

Start also shared more personal reminiscences. “When I arrived in Manchester – a young American – he introduced me to pickled onions, pubs and punk,” she wrote. “He was my music mentor, my cultural anchor and my first love.”

Start met and married Smith in 1983. She went on to play guitar, sing backing vocals and co-write songs on a series of the Fall’s albums released in a flurry during the Eighties, including Perverted by Language, The Wonderful and Frightening World Of… and This Nation’s Saving Grace. As the decade came to a close, so did Start’s relationship with Smith, and she left the band for a time. But despite the divorce, she later returned to contribute to Cerebral Caustic (1995) and The Light User Syndrome (1996).

Smith’s death was confirmed on Wednesday by the Fall’s manager Pam Vander. “He passed this morning at home,” she said. “A more detailed statement will follow in the next few days.” The Fall’s most recent album, New Facts Emerge, came out last July. It reached Number 35 on the U.K. albums chart. 

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