Andy Rourkewhose basslines belt out the indelible style of indie-pop icons the Smithsdied, Johnny Mar confirmed in a statement of social media and through his publicist. Marr said his bandmate’s death followed “a long illness with pancreatic cancer.” Rourke is 59 years old.
Rourke joined the Smiths shortly after his school friend Marr and singer Morrissey formed the group in Manchester in 1982. His energetic, melodic basslines sometimes took center stage, as in “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now,” but more often bounced off Marr’s dreamy guitar lines while locking in on Mike Joyce’s drums, creating a strong. rhythm section comparing Marr ornate fretwork. While the band scattered with strange sounds, establishing an indie paradigm with countless influences, Rourke drew from neighboring genres such as chamber pop and goth, such as the octave-hopping title track from The Queen died and the funk bass riff of Meat Is Murder“Barbarism Begins at Home.” For all the musical delicacy (and Morrissey’s discophobia), this is music you can dance to.
The Smiths released the last of their four classic studio albums, Strange Things Are Here For Us, in 1987 amid the band’s conflicts, including royalty disputes, which soon led to their demise and protracted litigation. Rourke played with Morrissey in the singer’s early solo career, to Marr’s chagrin, and went on to guest on the likes of Sinead O’Connor and the hypocritesas well as the supergroup Freebass along with two fellow Manchester bassists, Mani from the Rock Rose and New Orderof Peter Hook.
The band remains one of the big holdouts of the big-money reformation boom, Marr and Morrissey’s differences irreconcilable. But in September, Rourke played with Marr again, joining the guitarist’s band at Madison Square Garden. It was Rourke’s last gig. That is “a matter of personal pride, as well as sadness,” Marr wrote in his statement. “Andy will always be remembered, as a kind and beautiful soul by all who knew him, and as an extremely talented musician by people who love music.”