The Morrissey-solo Wiki is a continual work in progress, most of the data still needs to be populated. See the To Do page if you want to help.
|Name||Steven Patrick Morrissey|
|Born||22 May 1958|
|Record Labels||HMV, Parlophone, Sire, RCA, Reprise, Mercury, Attack, Sanctuary, Decca, Lost Highway, Major Minor|
|Associated Acts||The Smiths, The Nosebleeds, Slaughter & The Dogs|
Born on 22 May 1959 at Park Hospital in Davyhulme, Lancashire, Steven Patrick Morrissey is the youngest child of Irish Catholic parents who had emigrated to Manchester from County Kildare with his elder sister Jackie a year prior to his birth. His father, Peter, was a hospital porter and his mother, Elizabeth was an assistant librarian. His family first lived at Harper Street in Hulme before moving to nearby Queen's Square in 1965. By 1969, however, when many of the old streets and tenements were facing demolition, Morrissey's parents moved to a three-bedroom house on King's Road in the suburb of Stretford.
Morrissey has said his athletic ability saved him to a large degree from bullying during adolescence. Still, he has described this period as a time when he was often lonely and depressed. As a teenager, he began taking prescription drugs to help combat the depression that would later follow him throughout his life. He attended St. Mary's Secondary Modern School and Stretford Technical School, where he passed three O levels, including English Literature. He then worked briefly for the Inland Revenue, but ultimately decided to "go on the dole."Of his youth, Morrissey said, "Pop music was all I ever had, and it was completely entwined with the image of the pop star. I remember feeling the person singing was actually with me and understood me and my predicament." From 1974, he frequently wrote letters to music magazines like Melody Maker and the NME, giving his opinions on various bands. Morrissey would sometimes go to see bands in Manchester, the first being T. Rex at Belle Vue in 1972. He was taken there by his father, fearing for his safety in the notoriously rough district. Morrissey has described the occasion as "messianic and complete chaos".
During the 1970s, Morrissey was president of the UK branch of the New York Dolls fan club. He articulated his love for the group in the documentary New York Doll: "Some bands grab you and they never let you go and, no matter what they do, they can never let you down ... the Dolls were that for me." Morrissey was an early convert to punk rock. Morrissey, then still with forename, briefly fronted The Nosebleeds in 1978, who by that time included Billy Duffy (later of The Cult) on guitar. They played a number of concerts, including one supporting Magazine, which was reviewed in the NME by Paul Morley. Morrissey also founded The Cramps fan club "The Legion of the Cramped" with another enthusiast for their music, Lindsay Hutton, but he progressively scaled down his involvement in the club over time because of the increasing amount of time he was devoting to his own musical career.
Morrissey wrote several songs with Duffy, such as "Peppermint Heaven," "I Get Nervous" and "(I Think) I'm Ready for the Electric Chair," but none were recorded during the band's short lifespan, which ended the same year. After The Nosebleeds' split, Morrissey followed Duffy to join Slaughter & the Dogs, briefly replacing original singer Wayne Barrett. He recorded four songs with the band and they auditioned for a record deal in London. After the audition fell through, Slaughter & the Dogs became Studio Sweethearts, without Morrissey. The singer interrupted his music career at around this time, focusing instead on writing on popular culture. He published two works with Babylon Books: The New York Dolls (1981), about his favourite band; and James Dean is Not Dead (1983), about actor James Dean's brief career. A third book, Exit Smiling, which was actually written first (in 1980) and which dealt with obscure B movie actors, was initially rejected and remained unpublished until 1998.
In early 1982, Morrissey met the guitarist Johnny Marr and the two began a songwriting partnership: "We got on absolutely famously. We were very similar in drive." After recording several demo tapes with future Fall drummer Simon Wolstencroft, in autumn 1982 they recruited drummer Mike Joyce. They also added bass player Dale Hibbert, who provided the group with demo recording facilities at the studio where he worked as a factotum. However, after two gigs, Marr's friend Andy Rourke replaced Hibbert on bass because neither Hibbert's bass playing nor his personality "meshed" with the rest of the group. Signing to independent record label Rough Trade Records, they released their first single, "Hand in Glove", in May 1983. It was championed by DJ John Peel, as were all their later singles, but it failed to chart. The follow-up singles "This Charming Man" and "What Difference Does It Make?" fared better when they reached numbers 25 and 12 respectively on the UK Singles Chart. Aided by 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. In February 1984, they released their debut album, The Smiths, which reached number two on the UK Albums Chart.
In 1984, the band released two non-album singles: "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" (their first UK top-ten hit) and "William, It Was Really Nothing". 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. Early in 1985 the band released their second album, Meat is Murder, which was their only studio album to top the UK charts. The single-only release "Shakespeare's Sister" reached number 26 on the UK Singles Chart, though the only single taken from the album, "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore", was less successful, barely making the top 50.
During 1985, the band undertook lengthy tours of the UK and the US while recording the next studio record, The Queen is Dead. The album was released in June 1986, shortly after the single "Bigmouth Strikes Again". The record reached number two in the UK charts. However, all was not well within the group. A legal dispute with Rough Trade had delayed the album by almost seven months (it had been completed in November 1985), and Marr was beginning to feel the stress of the band's exhausting touring and recording schedule. Meanwhile, Rourke was fired in early 1986 for his use of heroin. Rourke was temporarily replaced on bass guitar by Craig Gannon, but he was reinstated after only a fortnight. Gannon stayed in the band, switching to rhythm guitar. This five-piece recorded the singles "Panic" and "Ask" (with Kirsty MacColl on backing vocals) which reached numbers 11 and 14 respectively on the UK Singles Chart, and toured the UK. After the tour ended in October 1986, Gannon left the band. The group had become frustrated with Rough Trade and sought a record deal with a major label, ultimately signing with EMI, which drew criticism from the band's fanbase.
In early 1987, the single "Shoplifters of the World Unite" was released and reached number 12 on the UK Singles Chart. It was followed by a second compilation, The World Won't Listen, which reached number two in the charts – and the single "Sheila Take a Bow," the band's second (and last during the band's lifetime) UK top-10 hit. Despite their continued success, personal differences within the band – including the increasingly strained relationship between Morrissey and Marr – saw them on the verge of splitting. In July 1987, Marr left the group and auditions to find a replacement proved fruitless.
By the time the group's fourth album Strangeways, Here We Come was released in September, the band had split up. The breakdown in the relationship has been primarily attributed to Morrissey's annoyance with Marr's work with other artists and to Marr's growing frustration with Morrissey's musical inflexibility. Strangeways peaked at number two in the UK, but was only a minor US hit, though it was more successful there than the band's previous albums.
Obligatory first page.
|THE SMITHS Song|