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The Smiths bassist Andy Rourke dies at 59

The late Andy Rourke pictured in 2013
The late Andy Rourke pictured in 2013 Copyright 2013 Getty Images
Copyright 2013 Getty Images
By Saskia O'Donoghue
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The Manchester-born musician, who had a decades-long career, passed away following a battle with pancreatic cancer

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Andy Rourke, the bassist for The Smiths, has died at the age of 59.

The band’s guitarist Johnny Marr confirmed that Rourke had died after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, in a statement posted to Twitter.

In the tribute, the legendary bassist, who played on The Smiths’ most famous songs including ‘There Is a Light That Never Goes Out’ and ‘This Charming Man’, was described as “a kind and beautiful soul by those who knew him and as a supremely gifted musician by music fans”.

Rourke played on all four of The Smiths’ studio albums as well as on lead singer Morrissey’s solo singles after the group’s dissolution in 1987.

Stephen Street, the producer for The Smiths, also paid tribute, saying, “I am so saddened to hear this news. Andy was a superb musician and a lovely guy. I haven't been able to read any other news about details yet but I send my deepest condolences and thoughts to his friends and family. RIP".

After the band split in the 1980s, Rourke’s career was far from over and he was an icon in the music industry, playing with artists including Sinead O’Connor, Badly Drawn Boy, The Pretenders and in a supergroup called Freebass. He also became a radio presenter on the rock station previously known as XFM.

Roy Rochlin/Getty Images
Rourke in New York in 2022Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Born in Manchester in 1964, the bassist started learning how to play the guitar at age 7 and struck up a friendship with Johnny Marr at 11 years old. Marr, who has previously called the late Rourke “one of those rare people that absolutely no one doesn’t like”, said that playing the bass was his “true calling”.

Formed in 1982, the band became one of the most defining acts of the 1980s hailing from Manchester, but split acrimoniously just five years later. The break up led to a falling out between the group’s members and a legal battle over royalties, but the ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’ hitmakers remain hugely popular to this day.

1985 Ross Marino via Getty Images
Rourke (R) with The Smiths in their 1985 heyday1985 Ross Marino via Getty Images

In his tribute to the late star, Marr added, "Andy reinvented what it is to be a bass guitar player. Watching him play those dazzling basslines was an absolute privilege and genuinely something to behold”.

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