Andy Rourke, 59, who played bass on all four Smiths albums, died today from pancreatic cancer at Memorial Sloan-Kettering.
After Rourke’s death was announced by Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr this morning, tributes poured in from the music world.
Marr tweeted, “It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Andy Rourke after a lengthy illness with pancreatic cancer. We request privacy at this sad time, as Andy will be remembered as a kind and beautiful soul by those who knew him and a truly gifted musician by music fans.”
A photo of Marr and Rourke from The Smiths’ days followed.
Morrissey sang mordantly humorous lyrics in a dark-of-night baritone, and the moody band had jangly guitar sounds, and steady post-punk rhythms. It was one of the most influential rock bands of the 1980s, scoring multiple hit records in the UK and becoming a mainstay on college radio.
The Smiths (1984), Meat Is Murder (1985), The Queen Is Dead (1986) and Strangeways, Here We Come (1987) were all recorded with Rory. The group had 18 Top 30 singles in the UK, including “Girlfriend in a Coma,” “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,” “How Soon Is Now?” and “Panic.”
In the UK, Meat Is Murder topped the charts while the other three reached No. 2.
Despite never hitting the U.S. pop singles chart, the Smiths had three consecutive gold albums there and were embraced by the rock press.
A messy legal battle led to the breakup of The Smiths, after which Rourke played with Sinéad O’Connor, the Pretenders, Badly Drawn Boy, and Ian Brown of the Stone Roses before Strangeways, Here We Come was released. In 2016, he released the band name D.A.R.K. with singer Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries.
Below are tributes from Billy Bragg, Brown, and The Smiths drummer Mike Joyce.