Andy Rourke, the renowned musician and bass guitarist of The Smiths, has passed away at the age of 59. He died on Friday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. The news was confirmed by Rourke’s former bandmate Johnny Marr.
The bassist was the founding member of The Smiths, along with Marr, Morrissey, and Mike Joyce. The group became famous as the most iconic alternative rock band in Britain in the 1980s. Read on to know more about Rourke’s life and career.
‘The Smiths’ Bassist Andy Rourke Dies at 59
Guitarist Johnny Marr took to Twitter to announce the death of his former bandmate. He 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,” the statement continued.
Born in 1964 in Manchester, to an English mother and an Irish father, Rourke was always inclined towards music and started learning guitar at the age of seven. “I always used to get a musical instrument either for Christmas or on my birthday, so I went through plastic trumpets, saxophone, keyboard,” the musician recalled in an interview in 2016.
Rourke Performed on All of ‘The Smiths’ Albums
The bassist had been friends with Marr since childhood and formed The Smiths with him in 1982. He played with the band in all four of their albums: The Smiths (1984), Meat Is Murder (1985), The Queen Is Dead (1986) and Strangeways, Here We Come (1987). The band split following the release of their fourth album.
Rourke then went on to play with Freebass, a group of bassists, including Gary “Mani” Mounfield and Peter Hoo. Over the years, he also collaborated with Killing Joke, Sinead O’Connor, Pretenders, and Badly Drawn Boy. His last release was Strong Forever in 2022, with Blitz Vega, a band he formed with vocalist Kav Sandhu in 2019.
Bandmates Pay Tributes
Following the news, a number of personalities from the music world, including Rourke’s former bandmates, took to Twitter to mourn his death. Morrissey wrote, “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. I suppose, at the end of it all, we hope to feel that we were valued. Andy need not worry about that,” the singer added.
Mike Joyce wrote, “Not only the most talented bass player I’ve ever had the privilege to play with but the sweetest, funniest lad I’ve ever met. Andy’s left the building, but his musical legacy is perpetual. I miss you so much already. Forever in my heart, mate.”
Bassist Mat Osman tweeted, “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.”
Our heartfelt condolences to Andy Rourke’s family and friends.