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.
Early image of The Smiths on a shoot in 1983 on the outskirts of Manchester
Morrissey and Johnny Marr of The Smiths photographed in London in 1983 just after they first signed to the legendary Rough Trade Records.
Morrissey wields a protestor’s placard bearing the title of The Smiths anarchic ‘Queen is Dead’ tour and album in Manchester,1986
The image of The Smiths outside Salford Lads' Club that graces the inner sleeve of their classic album The Queen is Dead
Limited edition giant vintage pin badge for The Smith's single Sheila Take A Bow by artist Tony Dennis AKA Tape Deck Art
Iconic Strangeways Road sign from the back of the ‘Strangeways, Here We Come’ album shot in 1987.
Colour contact sheet of images taken from The Smiths famous Salford Lads Club shoot for their Queen Is Dead album cover by Stephen Wright
Morrissey captured by Jill Furmanovsky at her London studio in December 1983, during the early days of The Smiths
Morrissey performing at the GLC's 'Jobs for a Change' Festival on London's South Bank
Johnny Marr onstage at the 2019 Glastonbury Festival as a surprise guest with The Killers