Sad news for fans of legendary Manchester band The Smiths, as founding member, bassist Andy Rourke, has passed at the age of 59 after battling pancreatic cancer.
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Rourke's former Smiths bandmates addressed the sad news on social media, with guitarist Johnny Marr sharing his "deep sadness" and remembrance of Andy as "a kind and beautiful soul by those who knew him and as a supremely gifted musician by music fans."
Drummer Mike Joyce also tweeted his memories of Andy, saying he was, "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."
The Smiths began their epic but short musical journey in 1982, with singer Stephen Patrick Morrissey, Johnny Marr, Andy Rourke, and Mike Joyce, releasing just four full-length albums during their tenure before packing it up in 1987.
Throughout his career, Rourke had also performed with FreeBass, D.A.R.K., Sinéad O’Connor, The Pretenders, Ian Brown, Billy Bragg, and Badly Drawn Boy.
The latter, British songwriter Damon Gough (Badly Drawn Boy), added on Twitter, “The Smiths were easily the most important band of my teens. I was beyond honoured when Andy played bass with me on tour for 2 years. He was the coolest, kindest funniest person, a joy to tour with. Probably the best natural musician I’ve ever seen."
Billy Bragg also commented on Rourke's passing, offering his condolences, as did others who had been touched over the years by his playing and personality, such as singer Rick Astley, '90s Alt-rockers Jesus Jones, Disturbed's David Draiman, longtime Smiths producer Stephen Street, and more.
In a touching statement via his website, frontman Morrissey said of Rourke: "Sometimes one of the most radical things you can do is to speak clearly. When someone dies, out come the usual blandishments … as if their death is there to be used. I'm not prepared to do this with Andy. 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. He was also very, very funny and very happy, and post-Smiths, he kept a steady identity - never any manufactured moves. I suppose, at the end of it all, we hope to feel that we were valued. Andy need not worry about that."
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