Johnny Marr: The Smiths and the Art of Gun-Slinging
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The shimmering, muscular guitar pop of The Smiths shone like a beacon through the eighties as they took up the mantle of the best British band since The Beatles. Their unparalleled musicality inspired a generation of popular bands including Oasis, the Stone Roses and Radiohead. Johnny Marr was the genius behind that revolutionary sound. Manchester-born Marr has proved to be a gun-slinger without equal, a guitarist who rode the longest highways to find the most perfect sounds and who built the gilt-edged frames in which the lyrical portraits of co-writer Morrissey sat so perfectly. Whilst he may well be remembered forever for the haunting intro to 'How Soon Is Now?' Marr has not slowed down creatively, inspiring a generation of younger listeners through his work with The Cribs, and even working with Hans Zimmer on the stunning soundtrack to the critically-acclaimed blockbuster Inception. He remains as influential and important as ever - a true guitar hero. Filled with insight...
virtually no wit (Madness and Blondie aside) and equally little musicianship. The record-buying public didn’t know it, but it needed The Smiths more than it needed anything: while Steven and Johnny sat head-to-head and planned their future, any discerning rock critic might have come up with a formula for a band that could shake the early Eighties up again, like punk had done six or seven years earlier. The band to re-energise the charts and the hearts and minds of the people who listened to the
winners of the Eurovision song contest, in an era when participation in that event was not seen to be quite as naff as it is today. Sandie’s high cheekbones and long, dark fringe made her as much a visual icon of the time as a musical one, and her trademark barefooted TV appearances guaranteed her column inches in the press too. Her chart debut, ‘(There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me’ was an iconic snapshot of 1964 power pop; her stylish follow-up ‘Girl Don’t Come’ was exactly the kind of
destroy the relationships that he still enjoyed with Morrissey, Rourke and Joyce, and perhaps kill him too. Like a marriage doomed to failure from the start, he had enjoyed great times and was rightly proud of the band, but had never been completely happy as the hectic world around him worsened and worsened. Of course, Johnny received hate mail. For the bedsit lost and lonely, Marr had destroyed the dream that was The Smiths. Astonishingly, it appeared at first that The Smiths would try and
still only twenty-five-years old. Marr’s first full year as an ex-Smith allowed him the freedom to work in any field he chose to wander, yet the shadow of his erstwhile band continued to fall across his working life. For a while, Johnny considered moving to Los Angeles or New York to escape the pressure of people in Manchester continuing to harass him for leaving The Smiths, but decided to move back to his home town permanently, where true friends and family were only minutes away. As well as
time. So, of course, while the world waited for Johnny to present an album all about The Smiths and his relationship with Morrissey, he couldn’t win. We were post-Mondays, post-Oasis, post-Roses. If the album had been filled with Smiths-like grooves then Marr would have inevitably been accused of sitting back and resting on former glories. If he had made an experimental album of tape loops and guitar clicks he would have been guilty of excessive self-regard. If he sounded anything like the bands