‘Andy reinvented what it is to be a bass guitar player’: Johnny Marr’s tribute to The Smiths bandmate Andy Rourke

19 May 2023, 13:07 | Updated: 19 May 2023, 13:33

Andy Rourke has died after battling pancreatic cancer.
Andy Rourke has died after battling pancreatic cancer. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Jenny Medlicott

Former guitarist of The Smiths shared a touching tribute to childhood friend and bandmate Andy Rourke after announcing his death this morning.

Johnny Marr has shared a heartwarming tribute to Andy Rourke after confirming he died aged 59 in an announcement this morning.

In a tribute later shared to his social media, Johnny said: "Andy Rourke RIP.

"Andy and I met as schoolboys in 1975. We were best friends, going everywhere together. When we were fifteen I moved into his house with him and his three brothers and I soon came to realise that my mate was one of those rare people that absolutely no one doesn’t like.

"Andy and I spent all our time studying music, having fun, and working on becoming the best musicians we could possibly be. Back then Andy was a guitar player and a good one at that, but it was when he picked up the bass that he would find his true calling and his singular talent would flourish.

"Throughout our teens we played in various bands around South Manchester before making our reputations with The Smiths from 1982 to 1987, and it was on those Smiths records that Andy reinvented what it is to be a bass guitar player.

"I was present at every one of Andy’s bass takes on every Smiths session. 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.’

"We maintained our friendship over the years, no matter where we were or what was happening and it is a matter of personal pride as well as sadness that the last time Andy played on stage was with me and my band at Maddison Square Garden in September 2022.

"It was a special moment that we shared with my family and his wife and soul mate Francesca.

"Andy will always be remembered, as a kind and beautiful soul by everyone who knew him, and as a supremely gifted musician by people who love music.

"Well done Andy. We’ll miss you brother."

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Andy Rourke and Johnny Marr were childhood friends.
Andy Rourke and Johnny Marr were childhood friends. Picture: Alamy

Andy Rourke, the bassist for The Smiths, died aged 59 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

The band's former guitarist confirmed the news on social media this morning, in a post that read: "It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Andy Rourke after a lengthy illness with pancreatic cancer.

"Andy will be remembered as a kind and beautiful soul by those who knew him and as a supremely gifted musician by music fans.

"We request privacy at this sad time."

The band's guitarist announced the news this morning.
The band's guitarist announced the news this morning. Picture: Getty images

Andy joined The Smiths in 1982 after the band placed their original bassist Dave Hibbert.

He helped make some of the band’s most famous hits, including This Charming Man and There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.

Mr Rourke also played with frontman Morrissey on his solo songs after the the group disbanded.

In 2018 the band planned a reunion of series of classical concerts, however the event was cancelled after Mr Rourke said he would not be taking part as he had not given permission.

His representative told Rolling Stone: "In no point in time did Andy Rourke agree to participate or otherwise license or authorise the use of his name, likeness or any personal quotes in any manner in connection with this Classically Smiths project."

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Mr Rourke joined The Smiths in 1982.
Mr Rourke joined The Smiths in 1982. Picture: Getty

Tributes have poured in for the former bassist, one social media user said: "Such sad news. Andy Rourke, mesmerising bass player with The Smiths, among the few to play melody on four strings. Dies aged 59. I count myself lucky to have seen them play in concert. It’s so lonely on a limb. Rest in peace Andy."

While another added: "RIP Andy Rourke. His fantastically melodic bass playing often went unnoticed because of Johnny Marr’s wonderful guitars and Morrisey’s lyrics but it underpinned everything."

The Smiths producer Stephen Street said: "I am so saddened to hear this news. Andy was a superb musician and a lovely guy.

"I haven't been able to read any other news about details yet but I send my deepest condolences and thoughts to his friends and family. RIP."

Rourke played as part of a supergroup called Freebass later in his career with two other Mancunian bass players, Gary "Mani" Mounfield from the Stone Roses and Peter Hook from New Order.

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