The Smiths’ drummer, Andy Rourke, has died at the age of 59, the band said.
Johnny Marr, a guitarist, said that it was “with deep sadness” that he knew Rourke had died after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
In a tweet, Marr said, “Those who knew Andy will remember him as a kind and beautiful soul, and music fans will remember him as a very talented musician.”
“We ask that you give us privacy during this sad time,” he said.
Rourke played on some of The Smiths’ best-known songs, like “This Charming Man” and “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out.” After the band broke up in 1987, Rourke also played on Morrissey’s solo records.
Rourke’s bandmate, drummer Mike Joyce, wrote, “Not only the most talented bass player I’ve ever had the chance to play with but also the nicest, funniest lad I’ve ever met. Andy has moved on, but his work will live on forever. I already miss you so much. Always in my heart, sweetheart.”
Suede bassist Mat Osman said that Rourke was “unique” and “one of those rare bassists whose sound you could recognize right away.”
“I remember playing that Barbarism breaks over and over again, trying to learn the riff, and being amazed by the steely funk that drove the track,” he said.
Stephen Street, who is in charge of making music for The Smiths, said, “I am so sad to hear this news. Andy was a wonderful person and a great artist.
“I haven’t been able to find out more about what happened yet, but my thoughts and prayers go out to his friends and family. RIP.”
Later in his career, Rourke played with two other bass players from Manchester, Gary “Mani” Mounfield from the Stone Roses and Peter Hook from New Order, in a trio called Freebass.
Rourke recorded with the Pretenders, Killing Joke, Sinead O’Connor, Aziz Ibrahim (formerly of the Stone Roses), and former Oasis musician Bonehead as Moondog One. Mike Joyce and Craig Gannon were also in this band.
He also played with Badly Drawn Boy, who is also from Manchester and toured with his band for two years.
Badly Drawn Boy wrote on Twitter, “The Smiths were without a doubt the most important band of my teens. When Andy joined me on tour for two years and played bass, I was blown away.
“He was the most interesting, kind, and funny guy I’ve ever met. He is probably the best artist I’ve ever seen play on his own. I liked him. Gutted.”
Rourke was born on January 17, 1964. His mother was English and his father was Irish. He liked music from a young age and started learning the guitar when he was seven.
Rourke said in a 2016 interview, “I always got a musical instrument for Christmas or my birthday, so I tried plastic trumpets, saxophones, keyboards, and a little bit of everything else.” “I played a little bit of cello later on, but I made that up as I went along. It was needed on a Smiths record, so I just bought one, tuned it like a bass, and went from there.”
At age 11, he became friends with Marr. “We went everywhere together and were great friends. When we were 15, I moved into his house with him and his three brothers. It didn’t take long for me to understand that my friend was one of the few people that everyone likes,” Marr said.
Marr and Rourke started a band together called Freak Party, but they never put out any music. When Marr, Morrissey, and Joyce got together to start The Smiths in 1982, they tried out two other bassists before deciding on Rourke. Marr said that Rourke’s “true calling” was to play the bass.
With hits like “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” and “Girlfriend in a Coma,” the group became the most important Manchester band of the 1980s and an icon of British alternative rock.
Rourke was fired for two weeks in 1986 because he used heroin, but he came back to work to make the album The Queen Is Dead later that same year.
In 1989, Rourke and Joyce sued Morrissey and Marr for equal compensation as they only received 10% of the group’s performance and recording income.
Marr said that Andy changed what it means to play bass guitar. “It was an honor and a real treat to be able to see him play those amazing basslines.
“Over the years, we stayed friends no matter where we were or what was going on… Well done Andy. “Brother, we’ll miss you.”
In the later part of his work, Rourke became a radio host on XFM, which was then a radio station.
“Very sad to hear that Smiths bassist Andy Rourke has died,” singer Billy Bragg wrote on Twitter. On the Red Wedge tour, he played with Johnny Marr and me. It was a great time. He was a very nice person and a great bass player. I’m sorry for his friends and family.”
Terry Christian, the show’s host, called Rourke a “lovely guy” and said, “Another hole has been left in the history of Manchester music.”
Tim Burgess, the lead singer of The Charlatans, added, “Such sad sad news about Andy Rourke. He was an inspiring musician, with a style that made so many of us pick up a bass guitar, and he was the driving force behind [benefit concert] Manchester Versus Cancer.” Everyone who knew him is in our thoughts. “Trip well, x.”
John Robb, a music writer, and bassist, told, “In Manchester, where the music scene and musical family are so close, it feels like you’ve lost a family member. You feel like one of your own has died.
“[Rourke’s] ability is something to be proud of. He was kind and attractive. He was sociable. Friendly, kind, and good-hearted.
“However, his basslines were so important to The Smiths. They had tunes that moved the songs along. He gave those songs their melodies and made them what they were.”