The Smiths were an English rock band active from 1982 to 1987. The group was based on the songwriting partnership of Morrissey and Johnny Marr and were signed to the independent record label Rough Trade Records. Considered by some critics to be the most important alternative rock band to emerge from the British indie scene of the 1980s, The Smiths have had a major influence on subsequent alternative music, including bands such as The Killers, Bloc Party, The Stone Roses, Radiohead, Blur, Suede, Oasis, The Libertines, Brand New, The Verve, Belle and Sebastian and Doves. At the time, the group was notable in particular for two things: Morrissey\'s unusual, witty, ambiguous and sometimes controversial lyrics; and Marr\'s complex, dense music, which helped return guitar-based music to popularity after it had fallen somewhat out of favour in the UK charts. The group released four studio albums and several compilations, as well as numerous non-LP Singles.
Although they had limited commercial success outside the UK while they were still together and never released a single that charted higher than number 10 in their home country, The Smiths won a growing following both at home and overseas in the closing years of the twentieth century, and they remain cult and commercial favourites to this day.
The group was formed in early 1982 by two Manchester residents. Morrissey (Steven Patrick Morrissey, though he does not use his forenames) was an unemployed writer who was a big fan of the New York Dolls and briefly fronted punk rock band The Nosebleeds. Johnny Marr (originally John Maher, he changed his name to avoid confusion with the Buzzcocks drummer) was already a very skillful guitarist with a talent for songwriting, and his Rickenbacker sound provided the music for Morrissey\'s lyrics throughout the group\'s career. Mike Joyce was recruited as drummer after a short audition. He had previously played with the punk bands The Hoax and Victim. Dale Hibbert initially played bass, and provided demo recording facilities at the studio where he worked as a sound engineer. However, after two gigs, Marr\'s friend Andy Rourke replaced Hibbert. Marr and Rourke had previously worked together in The Paris Valentinos along with Kevin Kennedy, who later became a household name in Britain as Curly Watts in the television show Coronation Street.
The precise origin of the band\'s name is unknown, although they stated that it was a reaction against names they considered fancy and pompous such as Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. In a 1984 interview Morrissey stated, \"I decided [to call ourselves The Smiths] because it was the most ordinary name, and I think it\'s time that the ordinary folk of the world showed their faces.\" The band also considered the names Smiths Family and Smithdom before settling on The Smiths.
Signing to indie label Rough Trade Records, they released their first single, \"Hand In Glove\", on 13 May 1983. That record was championed by DJ John Peel, as were all of their later Singles, but it failed to chart. The follow-ups \"This Charming Man\" and \"What Difference Does It Make?\" fared better, however. Aided by much praise from the music press and a series of studio sessions for Peel and David Jensen at BBC Radio 1, The Smiths began to acquire a dedicated fan base that, particularly in the case of Morrissey himself, continues to be something of a cult following. Morrissey\'s lyrics, while superficially depressing, were often full of mordant humour (The Smiths were \"one of the few bands capable of making me laugh out loud,\" said Peel) and his lovelorn tales of alienation found an audience amongst a disaffected section of youth culture, bored by the ubiquitous synthesizer bands that dominated the charts. Morrissey wrote about ordinary things, social statements of life, and everything from despair, rejection and death to vegetarianism and the English music scene.
The group also had a very distinctive visual style. Album and single covers featured colourful images of film and pop stars, usually in duotone, designed by Morrissey and Rough Trade art coordinator Jo Slee. Single covers rarely featured any text other than the band name, and the band themselves did not appear on the outer cover of any UK release. (Morrissey did, however, appear on an alternative cover for \"What Difference Does It Make?\", mimicking the pose of the original subject Terence Stamp, after the latter objected to his image being used.) The \"cover stars\" were an indication of Morrissey\'s personal interests obscure or cult film stars (Stamp, Jean Marais, Joe Dallesandro, James Dean), figures from 1960s British culture (Viv Nicholson, Pat Phoenix, Yootha Joyce, Shelagh Delaney), or pictures of unknown models taken from old film or magazine photos. In contrast to the 1980s obsession with exotic fashion, typified by New Romantic artists such as Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran and highlighted in magazines such as The Face and i-D, the group dressed mainly in ordinary clothes jeans and plain shirts which reflected the \"back to basics\" style of the music. Morrissey occasionally affected props such as a (fake) hearing aid (supporting a female fan who was ashamed of using one; see Morrissey & Marr: The Severed Alliance by Johnny Rogan for more detail) and thick-rimmed NHS-style eyeglasses.
By February 1984, The Smiths fanbase was sufficiently large to launch the band\'s long-awaited eponymous debut album to number two in the UK chart. Its mood was generally bleak, exemplified by such track titles as \"Still Ill\" and \"Suffer Little Children\", the latter referring to the Moors Murders in the 1960s, although there was a sprinkling of humour in several songs.
Also evident were Morrissey\'s studied references to literature and popular culture icons. His frequent acknowledgment of his many idols (Alain Delon, James Dean and Oscar Wilde particularly) in interviews, along with subtle lyrical references (the song title \"Pretty Girls Make Graves\", for example, is taken from Jack Kerouac) encouraged a literary bent amongst fans, who already had a tendency towards bookishness. Both \"Reel Around the Fountain\" and \"The Hand That Rocks the Cradle\" met with controversy, supposedly being suggestive of paedophilia. In addition, \"Suffer Little Children\" caused an uproar after the grandfather of one of the murdered children heard it on a pub jukebox. The song led to Morrissey establishing a friendship with Ann West, the mother of victim Lesley Ann Downey, who is mentioned by name in the song.
Shortly after the release of the album, Morrissey idol Sandie Shaw recorded \"Hand In Glove\" backed by Marr, Rourke and Joyce. The hit single resulted in the band performing barefoot (a Sandie Shaw trademark) on Top of the Pops.
1984 also saw the release of a couple of Singles not taken from the album: \"Heaven Knows I\'m Miserable Now\" (the band\'s first top-ten hit; the title parodies Sandie Shaw\'s \'60s hit \"Heaven Knows I\'m Missing Him Now\") and \"William, It Was Really Nothing\" (popularly believed to have been written by Morrissey about his friend Billy Mackenzie, lead singer of The Associates and which featured \"How Soon Is Now?\" as a B-side). The year ended with the compilation album Hatful Of Hollow. This collected Singles, B-sides and the versions of songs that had been recorded throughout the previous year for the Peel and Jensen shows. The radio session versions were felt by many (including the band) to be better than those released as Singles and on the debut album.
Following the group\'s demise, Morrissey immediately began work on a solo effort, collaborating with Strangeways producer Stephen Street and fellow Mancunian Vini Reilly, guitarist for The Durutti Column. The resulting album, Viva Hate (a reference to the end of The Smiths), was released six months later, reaching number one in the UK charts. Morrissey continues to perform and record as a solo artist.
Johnny Marr returned to the music scene in 1989 with New Order\'s Bernard Sumner and Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant in the supergroup Electronic. Electronic released three albums over the next decade. Marr was also a member of The The, recording two albums with the group between 1989 and 1993. He has also worked as a session musician and writing collaborator for artists including The Pretenders, Pet Shop Boys, Billy Bragg, Black Grape, Talking Heads and Beck. In 2000 he started another band, Johnny Marr and the Healers, with a moderate degree of success, and later worked as a guest musician on the Oasis album Heathen Chemistry. He performed two Smiths songs and music by others with a supergroup consisting of members from Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Split Enz and others, assembled by Neil Finn of Split Enz and Crowded House in 2001. In addition to his work as a recording artist, Marr has worked as a record producer. In 2006 he began work with Modest Mouse\'s Isaac Brock on songs that eventually featured on the band\'s 2007 release, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. The band subsequently announced that Marr was a fully fledged member, and the reformed line-up toured extensively throughout 2006-07. Marr has also been recording with Liam Gallagher of Oasis.
Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce have continued working together, including doing session work for Morrissey (198889) and Sinéad O\'Connor, as well as working separately. Rourke has recorded and toured with Proud Mary and is currently forming a group called Freebass with fellow bassists Peter Hook (of New Order and Joy Division) and Mani (of The Stone Roses and Primal Scream). He has recently started a radio career, hosting a show on Saturday evenings on XFM Manchester.
The Smiths were reunited in court in 1996 to settle a royalties claim by Joyce against Morrissey and Marr, who had claimed the lion\'s share of The Smiths\' recording and performance royalties and allowed only ten percent each to Joyce and Rourke (composition royalties were not an issue, as Rourke and Joyce had never been credited as composers for the band). Morrissey and Marr claimed that the other two members of the band had always agreed to that split of the royalties, but the court found in favour of Joyce and ordered that he be paid over £1 million in back pay and receive twenty-five percent henceforth. As Smiths\' royalties had been frozen for two years, being under financial pressure Rourke settled for a smaller lump sum to pay off debts and continued to receive ten percent. Morrissey was described by the judge as \"devious, truculent and unreliable.\" The singer later said, \"The court case was a potted history of the life of The Smiths. Mike, talking constantly and saying nothing. Andy, unable to remember his own name. Johnny, trying to please everyone and consequently pleasing no one. And Morrissey under the scorching spotlight in the dock, being drilled. \'How dare you be successful?\' \'How dare you move on?\' To me, The Smiths were a beautiful thing and Johnny left it, and Mike has destroyed it.\" Morrissey\'s 1997 solo album Maladjusted included a song titled \"Sorrow Will Come in the End\" which commented on the case, and which was omitted from the UK version of the album due to fear of libel action. Morrissey (but not Marr) appealed against the verdict, but was not successful.
In late November 2005, while appearing on radio station BBC 6 Music, Mike Joyce claimed to be having financial problems and said that he had resorted to selling rare band recordings on eBay. As a teaser, a few minutes of an unfinished instrumental track known as \"The Click Track\" was premiered on the show. Morrissey hit back at Joyce with a public statement shortly after, on the website true-to-you.net.
Relations between Joyce and Rourke cooled significantly as a result of Morrissey\'s statement which claimed that Joyce had misled the courts by not declaring that, amongst others, Rourke was entitled to assets seized by Joyce\'s lawyers from Morrissey. Rourke, it stated, had been deprived of royalty payments from Morrissey as they had already been covertly seized by Joyce who was obliged to declare that others (Rourke, Lillywhite, and Street) had an interest in funds he wished to seize.
Both Johnny Marr and Morrissey have repeatedly said in interviews that there is no way a reformation will ever take place. In 2005, VH1 attempted to get the band back together for a reunion on its Bands Reunited show. The show abandoned its attempt after its host Aamer Haleem was unsuccessful in his attempt to corner Morrissey before a show.
In December 2005 it was announced that Johnny Marr and The Healers would play at Manchester v Cancer, a benefit show for cancer research being organised by Andy Rourke and his production company, Great Northern Productions. Rumours suggested that a Smiths reunion would occur at this concert but were dispelled by Johnny Marr on his website. What did eventuate was Rourke joining Marr onstage for the first time since The Smiths broke up, performing \"How Soon Is Now?\".
To this day Morrissey refuses to reunite his old band, going as far as to say that he would rather eat [his] own testicles than re-form The Smiths, and that's saying something for a vegetarian. In March 2006 Morrissey revealed that The Smiths had been offered five million dollars to reunite for a performance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which he turned down, saying, \"No, because money doesn\'t come into it.\" He further explained, \"It was a fantastic journey. And then it ended. I didn\'t feel we should have ended. I wanted to continue. [Marr] wanted to end it. And that was that.\" When asked why he would not reform with The Smiths, Morrissey responded I feel as if I've worked very hard since the demise of The Smiths and the others haven't, so why hand them attention that they haven't earned? We are not friends, we don't see each other. Why on earth would we be on a stage together?
In August 2007 it was reported Morrissey had turned down a near £40 million offer to reunite with Johnny Marr for a 50-date world tour in 2008 and 2009. The condition would only be that Morrissey would have to play the dates with Marr, meaning the deal could have gone ahead without Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke.
According to an anonymous press release on true-to-you.net, an unofficial fan site tacitly supported by Morrissey, Morrissey was approached in summer 2007 by a \"consortium of promoters\" with a $75 million offer to tour during the next two years. The offer required Morrissey to make a minimum of fifty worldwide performances with Johnny Marr, under The Smiths\' name. true-to-you.net reported that the offer had been refused. Other reports say that the whole $75 million tour was a hoax.
In an October 2007 interview on BBC Radio Five Live, Johnny Marr hinted at a potential reformation in the future, saying that \"stranger things have happened so, you know, who knows?\" Marr went on to say that \"It\'s no biggy. Maybe we will in 10 or 15 years\' time when we all need to for whatever reasons, but right now Morrissey is doing his thing and I\'m doing mine, so that\'s the answer really.\" This is the first potential indication of a Smiths reunion from Marr, who previously has stated that reforming the band would be a bad idea.
Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Smiths