TRIBUTES have been paid to Smiths bassist Andy Rourke, who has passed away at the age of 59.
A statement on Rourke’s Facebook account revealed he passed away on Friday morning at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Care Center in New York after a lengthy illness with pancreatic cancer.
“Andy will be remembered as a kind and beautiful soul by those who knew him and as a supremely gifted musician by music fans,” added the statement.
Smiths bandmates Morrissey, Mike Joyce and Johnny Marr have since paid tribute to Rourke, with the latter describing him as ‘one of those rare people that absolutely no one doesn’t like’.
“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,” wrote Marr.
He added: “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 Maddison Square Garden in September 2022.
“It was a special moment that we shared with my family and his wife and soul mate Francesca.”
Rourke, who was born in Manchester to an Irish father, joined The Smiths in late 1982 alongside former schoolmate Marr on guitar, vocalist Morrissey and Joyce on drums.
The four second-generation Irishmen released their debut eponymous album in 1984, which reached number 2 in the British charts.
Three more albums followed, including 1985 chart-topper Meat is Murder, while the band’s singles included This Charming Man, Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now and Panic.
The band split up before the release of their 1987 album Strangeways, Here We Come.
It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Andy Rourke after a lengthy illness with pancreatic cancer.
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 pic.twitter.com/KNehQxXoFz
— Johnny Marr (@Johnny_Marr) May 19, 2023
Two years after the group disbanded, Rourke and Joyce started legal proceedings against Marr and Morrissey for a greater share of the band’s profits, having each only earned 10 per cent of performance and recording royalties.
Rourke settled for £83,000 and 10 per cent of future royalties, while Joyce persisted with his claim and in 1996 was awarded £1m in backdated royalties and 25 per cent thereafter.
Rourke, meanwhile, was declared bankrupt in 1999.
Despite the court case, Rourke went on to play and record with a range of artists including former bandmate Morrissey, as well as Sinead O’Connor, The Pretenders and Badly Drawn Boy.
Very sorry to hear that Smiths bassist Andy Rourke has passed away. I have great memories of him playing with Johnny Marr and myself on the Red Wedge tour. He was a lovely guy and an amazing bass player. My condolences to his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/r9moJTxgiG
— Billy Bragg (@billybragg) May 19, 2023
He formed Moondog One with former bandmate Joyce and former Oasis guitarist Bonehead, as well as Craig Gannon, who had temporarily replaced Rourke in The Smiths in 1986 when he was briefly fired over his drug use.
In 2005, Rourke created the bass super-group Freebass with Joy Division’s Peter Hook and Mani of The Stone Roses.
He also formed the band D.A.R.K, with Olé Koretsky and former Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan.
His latest project was the band Blitz Vega with Kavin Sandhu, with their November 2022 single Strong Forever featuring Marr as guest guitarist.
‘Didn’t know his power’
On Friday, Joyce said his former bandmate’s legacy would live on through his music.
“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,” he posted on Twitter.
“Andy’s left the building, but his musical legacy is perpetual.
“I miss you so much already. Forever in my heart mate.”
— Johnny Marr (@Johnny_Marr) May 19, 2023
Joyce’s sentiments were echoed by Morrissey, who described Rourke as ‘terrific and unconventional’.
“He will never die as long as his music is heard,” he wrote.
“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.”