Andy Rourke, The Smiths Bassist, Dies at 59

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Andy Rourke of The Smiths (Photo from Johnny Marr’s Twitter page)

Andy Rourke, the former bassist of the highly popular British band The Smiths, died today (May 19, 2023) in New York City. His passing was confirmed on social media sites by Johnny Marr, the band’s guitarist, who posted a lengthy remembrance of his former bandmate. The cause was pancreatic cancer.

Marr wrote, “Andy will be remembered as a kind and beautiful soul by those who knew him, and as a supremely gifted musician by music fans.”

Mike Joyce, Smiths drummer, posted, “Not only the most talented bass player I’ve ever had the privilege to play with but the sweetest, funniest lad I’ve ever met. Andy’s left the building, but his musical legacy is perpetual. I miss you so much already. Forever in my heart, mate.”

Born Andrew Michael Rourke in Manchester, England, on Jan. 17, 1964, Rourke was a guitarist when he met Marr in the mid-’70s. When the pair formed a band, Rourke switched to bass. Rourke played briefly with a funk band called Freak Party but when Marr started a new band with singer Steven Morrissey, who would work professionally under his surname only, Rourke joined the pair. Joyce filled out the lineup.

Morrissey wrote a tribute to Rourke: “I just hope…wherever Andy has gone…that he’s OK. He will never die as long as his music is heard.”

Rourke played on the Smiths’ self-titled 1984 debut album, 1985’s Meat is Murder, 1986’sThe Queen is Dead and 1987’s Strangeways, Here We Come, after which the group disbanded. Although the band’s four albums never reached higher than #55 in the U.S. Billboard LP chart, all four peaked at either #1 or #2 in the U.K.

Rourke continued to play bass with other artists after the Smiths’ breakup, including a group called Freebass and singer-songwriter Badly Drawn Boy, and contributed to recordings by Pretenders, Killing Joke, Sinead O’Connor and others. He also contributed to solo singles by Morrissey.

Related: The Smiths are among the many important bands not yet inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Watch the Smiths perform live on Rockpalast in 1984

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  1. Samhainkid
    #1 Samhainkid 20 May, 2023, 12:04

    Andy was part of one of the most solid rhythm sections in music history. His bass playing was so perfect on every song he touched. RIP.

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