Artist News Obituaries

Andy Rourke dies

By | Published on Friday 19 May 2023

The Smiths

Andy Rourke, bassist for The Smiths, has died aged 59.

His death was announced by former bandmate Johnny Marr, who said on Twitter: “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”.

A school friend of Marr, Rourke played in a number of bands in his home town of Manchester before joining Marr and Morrissey in their then new band The Smiths in 1982.

In an Instagram post paying tribute to Rourke, Marr recalls their childhood friendship, and how the two friends “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”, Marr adds.

“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”.

“I was present at every one of Andy’s bass takes on every Smiths session”, he goes on. “Sometimes I was there as the producer and sometimes just as his proud mate and cheerleader. Watching him play those dazzling basslines was an absolute privilege and genuinely something to behold”.

After The Smiths split in 1987, Rourke worked with many other artists in subsequent years, including Sinead O’Connor, The Pretenders, Badly Drawn Boy and Ian Brown. He also appeared on a number of Morrissey’s solo records and, in the 2000s, teamed up with two other notable Mancunian bassists – Peter Hook and Mani – to form Freebass.

Marr’s tribute to Rourke continues: “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”, Marr concludes. “Well done Andy. We’ll miss you brother”.