The Smiths bassist Andy Rourke dies aged 59 after cancer battle


Andy Rourke, the bassist for British alt-rock legends the Smiths, has died at the age of 59, his representatives and former bandmates said Friday.

“It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Andy Rourke after a lengthy illness with pancreatic cancer,” an announcement on his social media pages said. “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.”

In a tribute, the Smiths guitarist, Johnny Marr, said the two met as schoolboys in 1975. “We were best friends, going everywhere together,” Marr wrote on Instagram. They played together in bands in South Manchester as teens well before the Smiths gained acclaim, he recounted, “and it was on those Smiths records that Andy reinvented what it is to be a bass guitar player.”

Hailing from Manchester, England, Rourke helped craft a sound that became iconic as part of one of the most popular English bands of the 1980s, the Smiths, which spawned hits including “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” and “How Soon Is NOW? “.

At the time, The Washington Post described it as one of the decade’s best English bands.

After the band split in 1987, Rourke went on to play and record with artists including the Pretenders and Badly Drawn Boy. During his decades-long career, he also created a supergroup called Freebass with bass players from the Stone Roses and Joy Division.

“I always used to get a musical instrument either for Christmas or on my birthday so I went through plastic trumpets, saxophone, keyboard,” Rourke said in a 2016 interview. “I played a bit of cello later on but I made that up as I went along because it was needed on a Smiths record so I just bought one, tuned it up like a bass and went from there.”

Tributes poured in early Friday as fans and fellow musicians paid homage to him.

Suede bassist Mat Osman said Rourke- would be remembered as “a total one-off — a rare bassist whose sound you could recognize straight away.”

The last time Rourke played onstage was with Marr and his band at Madison Square Garden last year, the guitarist said, calling it “a matter of personal pride as well as sadness.” He described it as a “special moment shared” with the bassist’s family and “his wife and soul mate Francesca.”

Marr said it was “it was a matter of personal pride as well as sadness that the last time Andy played onstage was with me and my band at Madison Square Garden in September 2022.” He said it was “a “special moment shared with my family and his wife and soul mate Francesca.”

Another former bandmate, the Smiths drummer Mike Joyce, added that Rourke was “the sweetest, funniest lad I’ve ever met.”

“Andy’s left the building, but his musical legacy is perpetual,” he wrote.

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