The Smiths bassist Andy Rourke has died, aged 59

Virgin Radio

19 May 2023, 07:43

Andy Rourke

Credit: Twitter @andyrourke and @johnnymarr

Andy Rourke, the bassist for the legendary band the Smiths, has died aged 59.

The news was announced by guitarist 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.”

In a longer tribute posted to his Instagram, Johnny went on to speak about how the pair met as schoolboys in 1975 and remained close friends ever since, with Marr moving in with Andy when they were 15.

They went on to play in different bands together before joining the Smiths in 1982 where, as Marr said, Andy "reinvented what it is to be a bass guitar player".

Marr concluded: "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 Maddison 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.

"Well done Andy. We’ll miss you brother."

Rourke played on some of the Smiths’ most famous songs, including This Charming Man and There Is a Light That Never Goes Out and contributed to solo singles for Morrissey after the group split.

Morrissey paid tribute on his website, writing: "Sometimes one of the most radical things you can do is to speak clearly. When someone dies, out come the usual blandishments … as if their death is there to be used. I'm not prepared to do this with Andy.

"I just hope … wherever Andy has gone … that he's OK. He will never die as long as his music is heard. He didn't ever know his own power, and nothing that he played had been played by someone else. His distinction was so terrific and unconventional and he proved it could be done.

"He was also very, very funny and very happy, and post-Smiths, he kept a steady identity - never any manufactured moves. I suppose, at the end of it all, we hope to feel that we were valued. Andy need not worry about that."

Mike Joyce, drummer for The Smiths, tweeted: "Andy's left the building, but his musical legacy is perpetual. I miss you so much already. Forever in my heart mate."

The bassist was also a part of supergroup Freebass along with Gary “Mani” Mounfield from the Stone Roses and Peter Hook from New Order.

With a career spanning decades, Rourke recorded with the likes of the Pretenders, Killing Joke, Badly Drawn Boy and former Oasis guitarist Bonehead with the band Moondog One.

Fans were devastated to hear the news of his passing and took to social media to share their condolences, with one person writing: “I’m so sorry Johnny. That’s absolutely heartbreaking to hear. Andy will live on in the music you made together & will always be remembered for his incredible bass lines that made the Smiths what they were. RIP Andy ❤️”.

Suede bassist, Mat Osman, also said: “Aw man. RIP Andy Rourke. A total one-off - a rare bassist whose sound you could recognise straight away. I remember so clearly playing that Barbarism break over and over, trying to learn the riff, and marvelling at this steely funk driving the track along. (pic - K Cummins)”.

New Order bassist Tom Chapman added: “Very sad news . Andy was a kind soul and very talented, one of the best bass players and musician to come out of Manchester a true inspiration to me and so many others. Rest in Powers Andy.”

Our thoughts at Virgin Radio are with Andy Rourke’s family and friends at this time.