Andy Rourke, the bass player for The Smiths, one of the most influential British bands of the 1980s, passed away on Friday after a protracted battle with pancreatic c@ncer, his public relations company announced to CBS News. He was 59.
Reybee Inc. released a statement stating that Rourke d!ed early Friday morning in New York City at the Memorial Sloan Kettering C@ncer Center.
“Andy will be remembered as a kind and beautiful soul by those who knew him and as a supremely gifted musician by music fans,” the statement said.
Former bandmate Johnny Marr paid tribute to Rourke, whom he first met when they were both in school in 1975, in a post on Instagram. You can see below:
View this post on Instagram
“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,” Marr said.
“Andy and I spent all our time studying music, having fun, and working on becoming the best musicians we could be,” Marr wrote on Instagram. “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.”
The Smiths developed a cult following on the indie music scene during their brief tenure as a four-piece band by purposefully avoiding the mainstream of popular music.
The Smiths’ distinctive sound was greatly influenced by Rourke’s bass and his rhythm section partner, drummer Mike Joyce, even if most of the attention was on the songwriting collaboration between Marr and frontman Steven Patrick Morrissey, commonly known as Morrissey.
“He will never die as long as his music is heard,” the singer posted on his website, Morrissey Central. “He didn’t even know his power and nothing that he played had been played by someone else.”
As they gained in notoriety, the band released some of the best-remembered British songs of the 1980s, such as “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” and “Girlfriend In A Coma.”
Despite having a reputation for being melancholy, The Smiths’ songs were darkly hilarious and accompanied by uplifting guitars. A staple of any self-respecting music listener, their albums, such as “The Queen is De@d” and “Meat is Murder,” are in the form of the comeback of vinyl records.
“I was present at every one of Andy’s bass takes on every Smiths session,” Marr said. “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.”
Rourke continued to play in Marr’s band at Madison Square Garden as recently as September 2022, according to Marr, who claimed that they remained friends in the years following the band’s dissolution.
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“It was a special moment that we shared with my family and his wife and soul mate Francesca,” Marr said. “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.”
Following The Smiths, Rourke performed with The Pretenders, Sinead O’Connor, and the supergroup Freebass, featuring Peter Hook from New Order and Gary Mounfield from the Stone Roses. The Stone Roses Ian Brown claimed to have first met Rourke when they were both teenagers.
“We remained pals. One of the highlights of my music life was Andy playing on my The World is Yours album and accompanying me onstage on a UK tour and my first show in MOSCOW. Belly laughs all the way. RiP Brother X,” Brown tweeted. You can see below:
RiP ANDY ROURKE
I first met Andy aged 17 @simonWolstencr1 party.We remained pals. One of the highlights of my music life was Andy playing on my The World is Yours album and accompanying me onstage on a UK tour and my first show in MOSCOW. Belly laughs all the way. RiP Brother X
— Ian Brown (@ianbrown) May 19, 2023
Stephen Street, a producer for The Smiths, tweeted his condolences. “I am so saddened to hear this news!” Street tweeted. “Andy was a superb musician and a lovely guy.”
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