And Finally Artist News Beef Of The Week

CMU Beef Of The Week #148: Morrissey v Bowie

By | Published on Friday 8 March 2013

You remember Rickrolling, right? Of course you do. Cast your mind back to 2008; it was the internet meme of the day. Someone would send you a link saying it was one thing, but when you clicked on said link it would turn out to be the video for ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ by Rick Astley. It was all very funny.

Never gonna give, never gonna GIVE (give you up).

Classic. There were many spin-offs of the meme, the peak being Astley winning the public-voted Best Act Ever award at the 2008 MTV Europe Music Awards – made all the better because Astley did actually turn up to accept it, telling the BBC later: “I just felt it was a bit of a daft award … I think MTV were thoroughly Rickrolled”.

Anyway, keep all that in mind, because we’re coming back to it. Now I want to tell you about David Bowie. David Bowie is a man. A singer, if you like. He once met another man-singer called Steven Morrissey when both of them were in a city called New York. British artist Linder Sterling thought to capture the moment in a photograph (below). And that was that, no one ever thought about it again. Well, they might have done, but you and I didn’t because we didn’t know the picture existed.


Then Parlophone decided to reissue Morrissey’s 1989 single, ‘The Last Of The Famous International Playboys’ and someone had the idea of putting that photograph on the cover as a new piece of artwork. “Brilliant!” said everyone. Except Bowie.

A statement on Morrissey’s semi-official website True To You last month said: “David Bowie has ordered EMI UK not to run the proposed artwork for Morrissey’s 8 Apr issue of the remastered ‘The Last Of The Famous International Playboys’ single and CD. The sleeve featured a previously unseen private photograph of Bowie and Morrissey taken by Linder Sterling in New York in 1992. Although Bowie has no legal rights to the photograph, most of his back catalogue is presently licensed to EMI”.

So, that’s a shame. But it turns out that there are other pictures of Morrissey with famous singers. Notably one taken backstage at ‘Top Of The Pops’ in 1989, which features the former Smiths frontman with noted prankster Rick Astley. It’s worth pointing out that while Morrissey is trying his best to pull an ‘I’m-cool-with-this-but-seriously-look-who-I’m-with’ face in the Bowie picture, he actually looks like he can barely contain his excitement to be with Rick Astley, which is actually quite lovely.

Morrissey & Rick

And so, in a surprise development in the act of Rickrolling, that picture now graces the artwork for the Morrissey single, which is certainly on a par with voting for an 80s Stock-Aiken-Waterman pop product to be named the Best Act Ever, I’d say.

But anyway, Bowie and Morrissey may not be on such good terms now, but at least we can still recall happier times by watching the footage of them singing together that night in New York.