- From Melody Maker - News (Feb. 1, 1997):
"Billy Mackenzie, the hugely influential singer who began his career with The Associates, was found dead in a garden shed outside his father's home in Auchterhouse, near Dundee, on January 22. He was 39."
... "Morrissey, a friend and fan of Mackenzie for some years, said: 'He was such a lovely person, and I feel very, very sad.'"
- Post from blueboy:
Morrissey gets a teasing mention in Tom Doyle's book; 'The Glamour Chase - The Maverick Life Of Billy MacKenzie': (this extract is from pages 191 - 192):
"By May, six tracks of new MacKenzie/Rankine material had been completed. Retrospectively, the most musically startling and lyrically intriguing of these is undoubtedly the insistent glam rock of 'Steven, You're Still Really Something'. In the early 80s Billy had forged a fleeting friendship with Morrissey, which had allegedly ended with MacKenzie stealing a Jane Stein novel and a favourite shirt from the singer's Manchester flat. The music industry rumours that the two had enjoyed a brief affair were fuelled by the release of the Smiths' sixth single, 'William, It Was Really Nothing', in September 1984. If then, 'Steven, You're Still Really Something' is more than likely MacKenzie's response song, it is nothing if not likely affectionate, with even the vaguely threatening 'outing' line 'If I'm going down, I'll do you down with me' sweetened by the coupling 'And I loved the way you sent your poetry'.
Billy's song in question has not been officially released but since his suicide in 1997 there has been renewed interest in both his solo work and that of The Associates. This summer will see the re-release of much of his work including CDs of previously unreleased material and this may include the above mentioned song. Anyone who is interested in Billy can find out more information at this excellent fan run site: http://www.billymackenzie.com
Excerpt from Who was Morrissey singing about in William It Was Really Nothing? - radiox.co.uk (Aug. 20, 2019):
However, another common interpretation of the song is that William It Was Really Nothing is actually addressed to Billy Mackenzie, a Scottish singer-songwriter, best known for fronting The Associates in the early 1980s.
In his book on Mackenzie, The Glamour Chase, author Tom Doyle claims that Morrissey and Billy had a brief friendship which “allegedly ended with Mackenzie stealing a Jane Stein novel from the singer's Manchester flat”.
Smiths drummer Mike Joyce seemed to agree with the theory that the song is about Mackenzie. On a BBC radio show in 2012, he played William It Was Really Nothing and two other tracks and asked listeners to guess the theme. When one email suggested the link was “English men’s names”, Joyce pointed out that Billy Mackenzie was actually Scottish.
While The Associates enjoyed brief fame with the singles Club Country and Party Fears Two, original member Alan Rankine left just as the band were about to head out on tour leaving Mackenzie to cancel the dates and carry on alone.
In 1993, the duo reunited to demo some new material and one of the songs was called Stephen, You’re Really Something - which appeared to many to be a “reply” to William It Was Really Nothing. The song includes the line “I loved the way you sent your poetry”.
Billy MacKenzie (27 March 1957 - 22 January 1997) was born in Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom. He joined forces with fellow musician Alan Rankine as Associates in the late 1970's and released their first 7" - a cover of Bowie's "Boys Keep Swinging". The pair then released a string of critically acclaimed albums and singles under the Associates name. After Billy and Alan split in 1982 the group continued. Now called The Associates, various line-ups (always with Billy on vocals and writing most of the material) continued to release records until 1991 when the group folded. Billy also released a few singles through the 80's, variously as MacKenzie Sings Orbidoig, Holger Hiller Featuring Billy Mackenzie and BEF Featuring Billy MacKenzie. He also contributed vocal duties to a number of other artists such as Skids and Yello. His first proper solo excursions under his own name were in 1992 with the album Outernational and a clutch of solo singles. Billy continued recording and releasing material with Yello, Peach, Barry Adamson, Apollo Four Forty, Loom and Siobhan Fahey amongst others. Shortly after finishing work on what would have been his comeback album for Nude Records, MacKenzie was 39 years old when he took his own life in 1997, at Auchterhouse in the Sidlaw Hills by Dundee, Scotland.
William MacArthur Mackenzie (27 March 1957 – 22 January 1997) was a Scottish singer and songwriter, known for his distinctive high tenor voice. He was the co-founder and lead vocalist of post-punk and new wave band the Associates. He also had a brief solo career releasing his debut studio album, Outernational, in 1992, his only solo album released during his lifetime.