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Andy Rourke, bass guitarist for The Smiths, dies at 59

Andy Rourke, the bass guitarist for influential British band The Smiths, has died following a a battle with pancreatic cancer, his former bandmate Johnny Marr announced Friday. He was 59.

A representative for Rourke confirmed Rourke’s passing with Fox News Digital.

“It is with deep sadness that we announce that Andy Rourke has passed away in the early hours today at age 59 in New York City at Memorial Sloan Kettering 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 tribute post on Instagram, Marr said he first met Rourke when they were schoolboys in 1975.


 

 
 

 
 
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“We were best friends, going everywhere together,” he recalled. “When we were 15, I moved into his house with him and his three brothers, and I soon came to realize that my mate was one of those rare people that absolutely no one doesn’t like.”

He said that he and Rourke spent their time then “studying music, having fun, and working on becoming the best musicians we could possibly be.” He added that although the late musician started off playing guitar, “it was when he picked up the bass that he would find his true calling and his singular talent would flourish.

“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.

Andy Rourke of The Smiths

Andy Rourke is seen in October 2022 in New York City. (Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

The British band was created in Manchester in 1982. 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.

Although The Smiths’ songs were known to be darkly humorous and depressing, uplifting guitar melodies were often included in their music.

“I was present at every one of Andy’s bass takes on every Smiths session,” Marr said. 

andy rourke red carpet

Andy Rourke attends 61st GRAMMY Nominee Celebration at SECOND on Jan. 28, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/WireImage)

“Sometimes I was there as the producer and sometimes just as his proud mate and cheerleader. Watching him play those dazzling baselines was an absolute privilege and genuinely something to behold.”

Johnny Marr Andy Rourke performance

Former members of The Smiths, Andy Rourke, right, and Johnny Marr on stage. (Getty Images)

After The Smiths broke up, Marr said he and Rourke maintained their friendship. 

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He recalled that Rourke played in his band at Madison Square Garden as recently as September 2022.

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