LONDON — Andy Rourke, bass guitarist of The Smiths, one of the most influential British bands of the 1980s, has died after a lengthy illness with pancreatic cancer, his former bandmate Johnny Marr said Friday.
He was 59.
In a lengthy post on Instagram, guitarist and songwriter Marr paid tribute to Rourke, who he first met when both were schoolboys in 1975.
“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,” Marr said.
During their short time together as a four-piece band, The Smiths deliberately stayed away from the mainstream of popular music, garnering a cult following on the independent music scene.
Though much of the attention focused on the songwriting partnership of Marr and frontman Steven Patrick Morrissey, better known as Morrissey, the sound of The Smiths owed much to Rourke’s bass and his rhythm section partner, drummer Mike Joyce.
As their popularity swelled, the band released some of the most enduring British music of the 1980s, including “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” and “Girlfriend In A Coma.”