Johnny Marr, Morrissey, Mike Joyce lead tributes to Andy Rourke

Johnny Marr, Morrissey, Mike Joyce lead tributes to Andy Rourke

Andy Rourke's former bandmates in The Smiths, Johnny Marr and Mike Joyce, have paid tribute to the bassist following his death.

The news that Rourke had passed away aged 59 was announced earlier today (May 19). He died after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer.

Marr broke the news on Twitter, releasing a written statement shortly afterwards.

“Andy and I met as schoolboys in 1975,” he wrote. “We were best friends, going everywhere together. When we were 15 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.”


The statement continued: “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.”

Known for his melodic playing style, Rourke played on Smiths classics including This Charming Man and There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, as well as on solo songs for frontman Morrissey after the group disbanded.

Morrissey released a statement via his website saying that Rourke "will never die as long as his music is heard".

"Sometimes one of the most radical things you can do is to speak clearly," Morrissey posted. "When someone dies, out come the usual blandishments… as if their death is there to be used. I'm not prepared to do this with Andy. I just hope, wherever Andy has gone, that he's OK. He will never die as long as his music is heard.

"He didn't ever know his own power, and nothing that he played had been played by someone else. His distinction was so terrific and unconventional and he proved it could be done. He was also very, very funny and very happy, and post-Smiths, he kept a steady identity - never any manufactured moves. I suppose, at the end of it all, we hope to feel that we were valued. Andy need not worry about that."

Meanwhile, Johnny Marr praised Rourke's “dazzling” basslines.

“I was present at every one of Andy’s bass takes on every Smiths session,” the guitarist wrote. “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.’”

Marr concluded: “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 Madison 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.”


Rourke also played in Freebass with fellow Mancunian bass guitarists, New Order’s Peter Hook and the Stone Roses’ Mani, worked with with Sinéad O’Connor, the Pretenders and Ian Brown and was in the group DARK with the Cranberries vocalist Dolores O’Riordan.

Read a selection of tributes to Rourke below.


PHOTOS: Roy Rochlin/Stringer/Getty, Paul Slattery, Riaz Gomez

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