Forming in 1982 in Manchester, England, The Smiths were to become one of the most influential British bands of the 80s. Lyricist Steven Morrissey met guitarist Johnny Marr through mutual friends, and the two hired Marr’s friend Andy Rourke on bass and Mike Joyce on drums. The Smith’s music marked the beginning of the British indie-rock scene. Their music was pure guitar-based pop/rock, recalling hooks and textures from the 60s. While it was rooted in British pop, it was steeped in the vigour and independence of punk. The musicianship of Rourke and Joyce combined with Marr’s clever melodic guitar hooks coalescing with Morrissey’s yearning voice and cultured lyrics captivated thousands.
The Smith’s first single “Hand in Glove” and a series of live performances caused quite a stir and soon gained them a strong underground following. In 1984 they released a self-titled, critically acclaimed debut album, which instantly became a huge British hit with it’s simple yet catchy pop-rock rhythms. Meat is Murder, the band's second album entered the British charts at number one in February of 1985. The band courted much controversy with their songs. Morrissey’s melancholic lyrics addressed many taboo subjects, including homosexuality, child abuse and murder.Craig Gannon, formerly of Aztec Camera, came into the band as a temporary replacement. Their third album, The Queen Is Dead released in June 1986 was welcomed with enthusiastic reviews. In England the band became superstars with everyone of the albums hitting the top ten. They gained a sizable cult following in America but never really made it big, partly because they never undertook a full-scale tour. By early 1987 Marr was growing increasingly disenchanted with the band and he later recalled, "I realised that the records I was listening to with my friends were more exciting than the records I was listening to with the group. Eventually, we'd got ourselves down a musical and political cul-de-sac." A few weeks before the autumn release of their fourth album, “Strangeways, Here We Come”, Marr left, and The Smiths officially disbanded in the September 1987. A belated live album, Rank, was issued the following year and debuted at number two in the UK charts. Rourke and Joyce supported Sinead O'Connor for a time; Joyce eventually joined the reunited Buzzcocks. Marr went on to work with The Pretenders, The The, and Electronic. Morrissey embarked on a successful solo career.
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