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The Smiths' Andy Rourke Has Died, Aged 59
Christian Eede , May 19th, 2023 12:45

He passed away following a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer

Andy Rourke, bassist for The Smiths, has died at the age of 59.

News of his passing was confirmed by bandmate Johnny Marr on social media, who wrote: "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."

Born Andrew Michael Rourke in Manchester in January 1964, he started playing acoustic guitar as a child and befriended Marr at school, aged 11. The two shared an interest in music and would spent time jamming together with their guitars. When the pair formed a band, Marr encouraged Rourke to take up bass, which he developed a love for and continued to play ever since.

Rourke joined Marr and Morrissey shortly after the duo formed The Smiths and played their first gigs in 1982. He remained part of the band until they disbanded in 1987, save for a short period of time in early 1986 when he was temporarily sacked while suffering from an addiction to heroin.

The bassist featured on all four of The Smiths' studio albums, and also joined Morrissey to play on his solo material after the group split up. In addition to his work with Morrissey and The Smiths, Rourke collaborated with the likes of Sinéad O'Connor, Ian Brown and The Pretenders, Ian Brown, while also joining the groups DARK, (with The Cranberries vocalist Dolores O'Riordan, and Freebass, with New Order's Peter Hook and The Stone Roses' Mani.

Rourke's final live appearance took place alongside Marr and his band at Madison Square Garden in September of last year. Writing on Instagram, Marr said "it is a matter of personal pride and sadness" that this marked his last time on stage.

He added: "We were best friends, going everywhere together. When we were 15 I moved into his house with him and his three brothers and I soon came to realise that my mate was one of those rare people that absolutely no one doesn't like. Andy and I spent all our time studying music, having fun and working on becoming the best musicians we could possibly be.

"Watching him play those dazzling basslines was an absolute privilege and genuinely something to behold. But one time which always comes to mind was when I sat next to him at the mixing desk watching him play his bass on the song 'The Queen Is Dead'. It was so impressive that I said to myself: 'I'll never forget this moment.'"