Andy Rourke, who played bass for The Smiths on all four of the English band’s albums, died today of pancreatic cancer at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. He was 59.
Tributes from the music world poured in following the announcement of Rourke’s death, which was made by his friend and Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr this morning.
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“It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Andy Rourke after a lengthy illness with pancreatic cancer,” tweeted Marr. “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.”
Marr followed up with an image of himself and Rourke from The Smiths’ days.
Rourke was born on January 17, 1964, in Manchester, England, becoming friends with Marr at 11. When Marr and Morrissey aka Steven Morrissey formed The Smiths, he joined soon after.
The moody band had a jangly guitar sound, steady post-punk rhythms and mordantly humorous lyrics sung in a dark-of-night baritone by frontman Morrissey. It was one of the most influential rock bands of the 1980s, scoring multiple hit records in the UK and becoming a mainstay in the U.S. of what was then the fledgling college radio circuit.
Rourke played with them on all four studio albums: The Smiths (1984), Meat Is Murder (1985), The Queen Is Dead (1986) and Strangeways, Here We Come (1987). The group had 18 Top 30 singles in the UK, including “Girlfriend in a Coma,” “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,” “How Soon Is Now?” and “Panic.”
All four of its studio sets were big sellers in the UK, with Meat Is Murder topping the chart and the other three reaching No. 2.
The Smiths never hit the U.S. pop singles chart but had three consecutive gold albums there and was embraced by the rock press.
After The Smiths broke up following a messy legal battle — and just before the release of Strangeways, Here We Come — Rourke played with the likes of Sinéad O’Connor, Pretenders, Badly Drawn Boy and the Stone Roses’ Ian Brown. He most recently released an album with The Cranberries’ singer Dolores O’Riordan under the bandname D.A.R.K. in 2016.
Tributes came in from the likes of Billy Bragg, Brown and The Smiths drummer Mike Joyce, and can be seen below.
Greg Evans and Erik Pedersen contributed to this report.
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