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The Smiths

The Smiths were an English rock band formed in Manchester in 1982. The band consisted of vocalist Morrissey, guitarist Johnny Marr, bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce. Critics have called them the most important alternative rock band to emerge from the British independent music scene of the 1980s. The band's focus on a guitar, bass, and drum sound, and their fusion of 1960s rock and post-punk, were a repudiation of synthesizer-based contemporary dance-pop – the style popular in the early 1980s. Marr's guitar-playing on his Rickenbacker often had a jangly sound reminiscent of Roger McGuinn of the Byrds and influenced later Manchester bands, including the Stone Roses and Oasis. Morrissey and Marr's songs combined themes about ordinary people with complex, literate lyrics delivered by Morrissey with a mordant sense of humour.

The Smiths had several singles reach the UK top twenty and all four of their studio albums reached the UK top five, including one which topped the charts. They won a significant following and remain cult favourites, although they had limited commercial success outside the UK while they were still together. The band broke up in 1987 and have turned down several offers to reunite. In 2014 and 2015, they were nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Morrissey and Johnny Marr dictated the musical direction of the Smiths. Marr said in 1990 that it "was a 50/50 thing between Morrissey and me. We were completely in sync about which way we should go for each record". The band's "non-rhythm-and-blues, whiter-than-white fusion of 1960s rock and post-punk was a repudiation of contemporary dance pop" – the style popular in the early 1980s. The band purposely rejected synthesisers and dance music. They sometimes used Sergei Prokofiev's Montagues and Capulets as entrance music at live shows.

www.officialsmiths.co.uk

Smiths, The (SM002KC)

The Smiths

Early image of The Smiths on a shoot in 1983 on the outskirts of Manchester

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Smiths, The (SM001CLMU)

The Smiths

Morrissey and Johnny Marr of The Smiths photographed just after they first signed to the legendary Rough Trade Records.

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Smiths, The (SM001GL)

The Smiths

Morrissey wields a protestor’s placard bearing the title of The Smiths anarchic ‘Queen is Dead’ tour and album in Manchester,1986

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Smiths, The (SM001SWRI)

The Smiths

The image of The Smiths outside Salford Lads' Club that graces the inner sleeve of their classic album The Queen is Dead

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Smiths, The (SM002SWRI)

The Smiths

Iconic Strangeways Road sign from the back of the ‘Strangeways, Here We Come’ album shot in 1987.

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Glastonbury Johnny Marr (JOHM001VIPO)

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Johnny Marr onstage at the 2019 Glastonbury Festival as a surprise guest with The Killers

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Johnny Marr (SM001RIMA)

Johnny Marr

Johnny Marr playing his Rickenbacker guitar at the 'Jobs for A Change' Festival at Jubilee Gardens, London in June 1984

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Johnny Marr (SM002RIMA)

Johnny Marr

Johnny Marr onstage with The Smiths at the GLC's Jobs For Change free music festival in the summer of 1984.

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Morrissey (MOZ001MCCART)

Morrissey

Stunning photograph of Morrissey by Mary McCartney taken at the Royal Festival Hall, London in 2004

print
Morrissey (SM001KC)

Morrissey

Morrissey performing upside down on a monitor during his Kill Uncle Tour at the Jones Beach Theatre, Wantagh, New York in July 1991

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Morrissey (SM003RIMA)

Morrissey

Morrissey performing at the GLC's 'Jobs for a Change' Festival on London's South Bank

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