Manchester's Answer To The H-Bomb
How it all blew up for Morrissey and The Smiths

by Dave Simpson

part 2 of 2
from "Uncut" magazine (August, 1998)


Submitted by
Naomi Colvin

(to part 1)

IT was 1988, and following some short-lived sessions with Rourke, Gannon and Joyce ("We tried to carry on. I know Johnny wasn't too happy about that," says Mike), Morrissey plunged into the unknown.

Signed to EMI as a solo artist, he spent the winter of 1987-88 holed up at The Wool Hall studios in Bath, with Stephen Street, producing a solo album. Street had constructed some basic chord sequences, but realised a "muso" was needed to turn the sketches into songs. To this end, the duo recruited Vini Reilly, virtuoso guitarist with Manchester's Durutti Column.

"I think Morrissey was still trying to come to terms with what had happened," says Vini now. "But the three of us gelled. We had a very happy friendship which was based on Moz's gift for mockery. He basically just laughed at me.

"But it progressed from there to exchanged confidences, a lot of trust. We were physically wrestling with each other and having food fights, then discussing anxieties or worries."

Despite Morrissey's fragile state of mind and "reputation for being difficult", Vini Reilly paints a fairly idyllic picture of their time recording together. The residential studio was very luxurious, and the pair would kill time playing charades and discussing the films they'd just watched. They'd even enjoy shopping trips into Bath and nights out at Bristol Bierkeller, when the near-anorexic Reilly took on the implausible role as bodyguard to the beleaguered star.

Vini: "I used to put my pinstripe suit on, and wear shades, and pretend I was a bouncer. Which astonishingly enough people actually believed, and would treat me with great respect, which was hilarious!"

Nevertheless, it wasn't always easy to escape the enormous numbers of people who - as Julie Burchill once memorably put it - wanted to "touch the hem of Morrissey's cloth".

"Did Morrissey get recognised? Oh God, yeah," exclaims Reilly. "Everywhere we went. It was quite scary because we'd have one or two lads who'd approach, and within seconds it was like sharks, 20, 30. So we had to pre-empt it; at the first sign of approach be very heavy, and go "Back off". It didn't always work, so then we had to hasten to a car which was always waiting. It was the height of Mozmania. I do think it got him down because it was totally impossible for him to chill out."

Despite the light-hearted nature of much of Reilly/Morrissey's friendship, the sessions themselves were often acutely intense. Reilly particularly recalls recording "Late Night Maudlin Street", a harrowing confessional which drew subtle parallels between the dark times of Morrissey's youth and his uncertain present.

"Going into the night, Mozzer was putting down his vocal, and the whole studio was affected by the atmosphere. It was absolutely for real, everyone felt it and just went very quiet and went to bed very subdued. We didn't play charades that night, I can tell you."

In February, "Suedehead", a single from the sessions, was released and astonished many by soaring to Number Five, outstripping The Smiths' successes. A wonderful, flowing single, "Suedehead" (the title inspired by Richard Allen's "Skinhead" novels) boded well for Morrissey's career as a solo artist and was followed by an arguably superior Top Tenner in the swirling, "Everyday Is Like Sunday". Soon afterwards, Morrissey's solo triumph appeared complete when the "Viva Hate" album went to Number One. Morrissey marked his finest moment with a display of his increasing penchant for bizarre, extreme behaviour.

"He disappeared on me," recalls Gail Colson, who managed Morrissey at the time. He vanished for a month from the day I told him that the album had gone in at Number One."

Unbeknown to anyone, Morrissey was back in Manchester. According to Reilly, Morrissey had just had enough of the business for a while.

"EMI had been breathing down his neck all through making that album, but he'd arrive at my flat here clutching some eco-friendly cleaning fluid."

Shortly afterwards, Morrissey discovered that Rourke, Gannon and Joyce were preparing to sue him (and Marr) for monies relating to The Smiths (the case would eventually come to court in 1996). Morrissey's response to this was even more unpredictable...

Exactly 365 days after he'd last worked with them, Morrissey (or rather his lawyer) phoned the trio and suggested a gig. The result was a triumphant experience for all concerned, with feverish members of the audience gaining admission with a Smiths or Morrissey T-Shirt. The band played the material they'd recorded with Morrissey a year earlier (such as "The Last Of The Famous International Playboys") and a handful of Smiths songs never played live. However, the backstage environment brought the curious occasion of a group whose entire membership was suing the singer. According to Joyce, "It wasn't mentioned".

Morrissey would never play with either Joyce, Rourke or Gannon again, dumbfounding the ex-Smiths to this day. Morrissey was still playing mind games, and getting rather good at them.


MORRISSEY was in another state of flux. He'd fired everybody: Gail Colson, his manager, as well as his accountants and lawyers.

Yet another run-in (with Stephen Street, which mystifies Vini Reilly to this day) had ensured that the successful "Viva Hate" duo, or trio, would never work together again. Collaborations with producers Langer & Winstanley, and Fairground Attraction songwriter Mark Nevin had proved unrewarding, the latter spawning 1991's belated and critically pilloried "Kill Uncle" ("So Morrissey's over..." declared Steve Sutherland in the NME), while Marr was enjoying a productive career as member of both The The and Electronic.

Morrissey was increasingly hermetic, refusing to tour, and still steadfastedly refusing to talk to the music press. The music press, in return, was determined to get to him. A succession of provocative articles took the ambiguous lyrics of songs like "Bengali In Platforms" to suggest that Morrissey was a racist (Morrissey has performed for "Artists Against Apartheid"). To his credit, Morrissey refused to respond. However, this made the music press equally determined to press for blood. His relationship with the media began an increasing downward spiral.

Andy Catlin provides an insight into what would become Morrissey's rampant paranoia as a solo artist.

"The thing with rock photography is, the only time the average person gets to look at Morrissey in the eye is in a photograph. So the pictures that people see of you become more of a reality than who you actually are. I think he became more conscious of that. But that made it much harder for him to be photographed as time went on. Harder to be exposed."

Morrissey was still doing interviews, laced with wit and humour ("I'm actually at the height of my powers... as a window cleaner," he howled to Q), but was giving little away. For many, it was impossible to distinguish between the mask and the man.

"It goes back [again] to Kenneth Williams," says one insider. "When did he turn off? Did he sit in front of his friends and do that fucking stupid voice? You put on the mask and the mask becomes the person. There's nothing left except the persona. Morrissey had become a c***. Perhaps he'd always been a c***. But maybe if he wasn't such a c*** he wouldn't have made the brilliant records he did."


MORE persecuted than ever, Morrissey continued an ongoing process of disposing of his associates and friends. There were 10 people personally thanked on the sleeve of The Smiths' debut album; all were now utterly excommunicated.

Grant Showbiz (himself by this point persona non grata) recalls a typical fate, that of sleeve layout person Caryn Gough.

"She just happened to say to somebody, "Oh those covers used to take me no time at all. I used to slap 'em up." That was it. Literally about a week later she was excommunicated by Morrissey."

Vini Reilly points out that to some Morrissey may appear to have a huge ego, but that it hides a desperately vulnerable person.

"He's been betrayed very often by people who should know better," he declares. "I've actually seen that happen - and it's very painful to watch."

And hard to be on the end of. Vini Reilly got particularly close to Morrissey - until the phone calls stopped.

"A lot of people think, "I'm going to be the one to get through to Morrissey," and they all end up like all the others," says unofficial biographer Johnny Rogan. "Because they perhaps expect too much going in. He's very much in control of his life, but that can be a plus or a minus. Basically, I think a lot of people want to love Morrissey, but he thinks everybody hates him!"

Grant Showbiz puts Morrissey's fondness for excommunications as down to a "Power thing. To say 'Fuck you, fuck off. I don't need you any more.'"

Why does he have so many fall-outs?

"Well, I could give you a very cheap answer - he's insane!" laughs Jo Slee. "But no, I think he has very high expectations of people, and he's very quick to take umbrage, or to feel let down, and you don't often get a second chance. That's childlike. He's very extreme in his emotional reactions to people. He's always been intensely suspicious, actually finding it intensely difficult to trust people. I actually feel like he's been indoctrinated against trusting people at some stage in his life."

Revealingly, Morrissey once said he grew up without seeing his parents hug or kiss. Equally illuminatingly, Slee (one of the few people to be "re-admitted" to the circle after a falling-out with Morrissey) paints an intriguing picture of a consummate performer with a crippling lack of self-esteem.

"He finds it difficult to receive friendship," she says. "If you don't learn self-esteem when you're a child, for whatever reason, you have to work really hard when you're older. And you've got to have a reason for doing that. He's the type of person who, if people want to keep in touch with him, they probably need to do it. I don't think he really believes that people want to be his friend.

The self-esteem problem is interesting because of the connection between low self-esteem and grandiosity. You could say that Morrissey has plenty of grandiosity, and he has extraordinarily low self-esteem. And yet he's a very passionate person. Work that one out!"


AS the nineties opened up, the familiar patterns of Morrissey's life began to re-establish themselves. His childhood had been marked by dysfunction (the eventual separation of his parents) and upheaval (the family had removed from a fairly idyllic existence in Dublin to Manchester, and the painful Mozzer schooldays immortalised in songs like "The Headmaster Ritual").

Morrissey is uniquely complex. As a free thinker, he is a radical. As someone for whom change (childhood relocations, the end of The Smiths) has generally been for the worst, he's an inherent conservative who often clings to the sanctity of the past and what he knows.

By 1991 Morrissey was again touring (with a four-piece band), and again delving comfort from the succour of celebrity friendships. As well as the enduring Linder Sterling, Morrissey's friends at this point included Tim Booth of James (who'd toured with The Smiths back in '85) and Pretender Chrissie Hynde, who'd - intriguingly - worked with Johnny Marr.

Morrissey's penchant for celebrities resurfaced during an unbelievably triumphant first US tour, which then-bassist Gary Day describes now as "Mozmania. Famous people were always turning up. Sandie Shaw came to a lot of gigs. Sylvester Stallone."

"Celebrities came up all the time," adds Jo Slee. "But, unless he admired their work, he wouldn't want to meet them."

Jo cites a mildly embarrassing incident with Moz fanatic Tom Hanks. She has a particularly insightful view on Morrissey's celebrity fetishism.

"He can walk up to any kind of celebrity - someone who has a public persona he admires - without fear or shyness," she says. "He can go into an in-depth conversation as if he's known them for years. But if he's confronted by someone about whom he doesn't have an image, a sense of who they are, he's completely lost. He needs to observe people, probably for several years, before he can open a conversation. When you see children together, they're entirely contained in their bubble and they don't speak. When you look at them again, they've stepped out and they're playing together. I don't think Morrissey can do that. He never developed that."


MORRISSEY struck up a particularly intense friendship with Michael Stipe, another icon of unconfirmed sexuality, which led to wild industry rumour.

"Michael was great on that first tour," says Jo, carefully. "They met a lot and used to correspond."

Gary Day: "Michael Stipe? Yeah, he was around. Was Morrissey going out with anybody? Not that I knew. Anything that may or may not have happened on that front I don't know about at all. That side of his life is very private, and that's his prerogative. The less he reveals, the more people ponder. I was just the bass player. I wouldn't want the pressure he's got."

Like many of his famous friendships, the Stipe-Morrissey bonding "drifted". Another of Morrissey's long-term friends on the 1991-2 world tour was someone called Peter Hogg.

Day: "I detested him. He was a real troublemaker, always sticking the knife into other people's backs."

But who was Pete Hogg?

"Please don't ask me," pleads Jo Slee. "Let me just refer you to the '91 tour programme. Peter Hogg was down as 'rent-a-chap', and that's all I can say."


BY 1992, Morrissey's life was increasingly schizophrenic, torn between the bustle of the road and the sanctity of his hermetic life in Bowdon, near Manchester, where he often spent time living with his mother. Geographically restless, Morrissey moved to London, and there was much to be positive about in Steven Patrick's life. 1992 brought return-to-form album, "Your Arsenal", produced by Mick Ronson, even a clutch of outstanding B-sides (notably "Jack The Ripper") and perhaps the ultimate compliment was paid when Moz's adolescent hero, David Bowie, covered one of his songs, "I Know It's Gonna Happen Someday". [Although Bowie has subsequently declared "It's me doing Morrissey doing me."] American success was burgeoning. In fact Morrissey - the old Englander - was increasingly growing to love Uncle Sam. He was well-loved (one of the few "English eccentrics" to achieve this Stateside feat) yet could be anonymous. America also brought welcome light relief.

In England, all was unwell, however. In July, Morrissey was canned off at Finsbury Park after he supported Madness swathed in a Union Jack. Subsequently, NME ran a four-page assault entitled, "This Alarming Man", which attempted to revive the racist controversy. Morrissey again remained silent.

But as his worldwide stardom was growing, the man himself was increasingly isolated and lonely. The gulf between his public and private self was widening alarmingly.

He had his band (the core of which would stay with him throughout the Nineties), but where The Smiths' vaunted "gang mentality" may have been misleading but not entirely inaccurate, the new outfit was more of a working, business-based unit. Relations with Morrissey were amicable, but little more.

"It was the lack of communication," says Gary Day. "If you're going to be told something, you like to be told by that person - and it was never done that way. If someone you know asks you to do something, you might not think it's outrageous or terrible, but if it comes from someone else it might upset you.

"A lot of things change when you're in that camp; like, you can be expecting to go on tour, and then the day before you hear that you're not going on tour. You can be in the middle of a tour, then suddenly you're going home. But it's his show, and he runs it. I admire that; if he upset me a couple of times, that's just my personal feelings."

Again, "strange loyalty" to this not always charming man. Morrissey's management situation was similarly confused. He asked Gail Colson back; she refused. Just as Morrissey was growing fond of another manager, Nigel Thomas (who annoyed the band by cutting their money), Thomas died of a heart attack. Gary Day was sacked. He heard the news from a roadie, much as Andy Rourke had apparently been dismissed from The Smiths by finding a sticker on his car.

"He's a total coward in that respect," admits Jo Slee. "Appalling. I mean, his favourite way of stopping working with someone is to stop speaking to them. They don't understand why he's suddenly stopped answering their faxes and stopped answering his phone, and has changed his phone number. And then they hear from his lawyer or his accountant that he's no longer working with them..."

Does he realise how harmful that can be?

"I don't think he's able to feel it. Because if he were, he wouldn't do it. I don't think he's in touch with that sort of emotion. He's not in touch with the consequences of his actions."


BACK in London, Mozzer tried manfully to rid himself of the reclusive habits that had often threatened to consume him. He became almost a regular at certain pubs in Camden, Vauxhall and Whitechapel, where he could be seen cradling a pint in darkened corners. In interviews, he'd even started alluding to finally understanding the need for physical relationships.

"That time was very good for him," says Jo Slee. Much of the time, Mozzer's companion was Jake Walters, a diminutive skinhead former boxer with what insiders describe as a "checquered past". Although Walters is loathe to speak about Morrissey, he will confirm that they shared a house and were "best mates".

"The most interesting and fascinating character I've ever met," confesses Walters, understandably. Jake was never on the payroll, but became Morrissey's personal assistant as soon as a stressed-out Jo resigned. Morrissey was also particularly friendly with Murray Chalmers, his press officer at EMI.

Around this time, Morrissey became publically infatuated with the imagery of the boxer. He attended fights. Bizarre, unconfirmed rumours spoke of a procession of "hard-looking" characters beating a pathway to his door, while Morrissey began to utilise the imagery of the fighter in his performances, including backdrops featuring skinhead girls. He appeared in one magazine covered in (fake) bruises. For someone who had retained a bequiffed, slightly Fifties look since 1983 and was still publically thought of as something of a "Jessie", this was a major development.

Although she was no longer working with him, Jo Slee understood the process perfectly.

"It was a projection of a part of himself that's inaccessible to him," she says. "I think he perceives that as a masculinity which he has always craved and was never given. If we're not given these things then we tend to go seeking them in some form. I mean, when you meet him he might seem very male, very charming, very camp or whatever - but it's not about how you come across, it's how you are inside. For instance, someone might come across as a very sexual person, but they might be terrified of sexuality."

Unsurprisingly, many commentators were quick to seize on the supposed "homo-erotic" possibilities in Morrissey's new aesthetic.

"He said something in an interview which stuck in my mind about his fascination with skinheads," says Slee. "He said that what he envied about these people - in a boyish, laddish way - was that they were natural and un-self-conscious, which I thought was very revealing."

So he's not attracted to violence?

"I wouldn't say that's the over-riding thing there. I remember once in Australia he was ill. This is the illest man ever! But he was terribly ill in bed and eventually struggled out onto the roof of the hotel. Morrissey was sitting there, swathed in scarves, drinking hot chocolate, and he suddenly said in a really plaintive voice, "There's a wasp drowning in the swimming-pool." And I swear to God he made me fish it out! And it sat there cleaning its wings off. Then he was happy.


MORRISSEY was often happy in 1994. He was justifiably proud of that year's superbly-received "Vauxhall & I" album, his favourite solo album, and possible his best. Morrissey's new contentment was typified in delighted public exclamations of a renewal of acquaintance with Johnny Marr.

By 1995, things were changing on all fronts. Now a muscular thirty-something, Morrissey completed his deal with EMI/HMV and decided on a new company, RCA, whose famous orange label had adorned his favourite childhood Lou Reed and David Bowie records. However, the resulting "Southpaw Grammar" album (the apex of his boxing obsession) was disappointing and, as with "Kill Uncle", Morrissey found himself touring a substandard album. His American success (though still impressive) was waning and the British leg of the "Boxers" tour was one of the most bizarre in living memory. Flanked by images of bruisers, Morrissey and the band played through gritted teeth as hordes of fans trooped ritually onstage to hug the hero, before filing off politely again. Even Morrissey himself seemed to be going through the motions: the once master of apparent spontaneity reduced to grim ritual.

Around this time, the ever-present Jake Walters seemed to fade from view as Morrissey's sideman (although he insists that - despite rumours - they never fell out and are still in touch), with Jo Slee again looking after the singer's personal affairs. Morrissey was given a new challenge as support (or "co-headline") on David Bowie's "Outsiders" tour. However, what should have been a great honour turned into a near disaster, with Morrissey going on early to half-empty halls and deafening bemusement.

Few were surprised when Morrissey soon pulled out of the tour (citing "illness"), but accusations that Morrissey found the experience of supporting Bowie too humiliating were cruelly wide of the mark.

"He was very ill with depression," says Jo Slee. "He wasn't really fit to go on the road, although I didn't know how ill he was until he really began to come apart at the seams."

Jo won't say what Mozzer was depressed about.

"I really couldn't say," she insists. "Morrissey's suffered from depression all his life, more than anyone else I know. It's about repressed feelings, repressed emotions, repressed pain. It needs treatment. He was taking anti-depressants at the time because he was desperate to get out on the road, he really wanted to do the dates. But it was just too much for him."

Around this time, Morrissey was confessing to having dabbled with both Ecstasy and Prozac. Those unprompted revelations aside, no one has ever asked him about prescription drugs.


POOR, beleaguered, fighting Morrissey. He was never one to shirk from a challenge, and must have faced the prospect of finally facing his former colleague Joyce in court (Rourke and Gannon had long since accepted relatively small settlements) with relish, if some small amount of fear.

When the singer finally took the stand in 1996, he performed well at first, then became progressively more irritated. Famously, the judge described him as "devious, truculent and unreliable".

Grant Showbiz: "He completely fucked it up. Johnny said, "Why don't I just cut up a million pounds now?" The judge was saying, "Have you got another name?" And Moz's going, "Do I have to tell you?" Every question, he was like a spoilt little boy, as if he was above it all. Literally, he must have lost himself and Johnny a million quid in half an hour."

Morrissey insisted he was the wronged party.

"Really, I'll never forgive Mike [Joyce], and to a lesser extent Andy [Rourke], because it was horrific," he explained to Melody Maker a year later. "It was shocking, and if I was a weaker person or less intelligent, it would make me despise The Smiths and everything they stood for."

Describing the judge as "horrendous", Moz went on to say, "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..."

Joyce was awarded 1.25 million from Morrissey and Marr.

"'Devious, truculent and unreliable'? We half expected that to be the title of the next LP," chuckles Slee.

Instead, 1997 brought "Maladjusted", a title which, like most of Morrissey's art, told it's own story. Associates were shocked by the news that Morrissey (as opposed to Marr) was determined to appeal against the court decision (the appeal is heard on July 22).

Fred Hood: "Morrissey's appealing. What an idiot! I think Johnny would have settled out of court. They say that Morrissey's got the first pound he ever earned, whereas Johnny's a generous guy, not at all miserly - and I'm not sure if you can say that about Morrissey."

Grant Showbiz: "I can imagine Morrissey bankrupting himself one day. He loves tragedy. He thinks the world's against him."

But wasn't it always that way?


WHICH brings us back to the present day. Strangely, several major players in the Smiths/Morrissey saga are seeing each other again. Rourke and Joyce are working together again in Pete Wylie's band. Johnny Marr and Joe Moss used the trial as a means of renewing old acquaintances, with Marr now producing Moss' new (and not un-Smithsy) charges, Marion. The odd one out, as ever, is Morrissey.

1997's critically well-received "Maladjusted" album spent just two weeks in the UK Top 40 and performed relatively poorly in the USA. If proof were needed, "Maladjusted" rammed home the point that Morrissey would finally have to change.

His affairs are in crisis. In 1998, Morrissey is once again at a crossroads, a colossal talent in need of a new foil, which may necessitate a new life.

"Morrissey," says Fred Hood. "He's just doing pale imitations of The Smiths."

The era of candid memoirs and public confessionals could do much for him as he approaches 40. Just as the initial "scandals" involving Hugh Grant and George Michael made their iconic facades seem immediately more human and welcoming, maybe Moz would do well to shine his own purging light in his darkest secrets.

"He's becoming more remote from the world and it's such a shame," rues Grant Showbiz. "When your great skill is writing about the world, how can you write about it when you keep shutting yourself away from it?"

Everyone has so much love for Morrissey, yet he has retreated further and further from that love.

"His big problem is this thing about not being able to receive love from people," sighs Slee. "It's about not ever having been taught to give it yourself. This is no reflection on either of his parents, but it's about what the child needs rather than what the child actually gets, and if it's not what the child needs, the child learns that it has no value. That means that when people focus their love and affection on that person, they don't know how to receive it. He can see that someone really cares for him, in some detached way, but he can't feel it."

This is perhaps the most damning and yet curiously endearing thing anyone's ever said about Morrissey.

He has tried therapy, finding it impossible to make himself "vulnerable" to a psychoanalyst's probing. He's "thought about death a lot", says Slee, but she doubts if this notorious self-preserver would seriously consider suicide. His staunchest allies (Slee and Reilly) concur that Morrissey an be incalculably vindictive but, says Reilly, "It hurts him more than anyone else."

Perhaps the great tragedy of Steven Patrick Morrissey is that however nasty or bitter he can appear, he is perennially more victim than victor. He is himself the fly caught in the tantalising web of dysfunction that has given us his wonderful talent. The question now is whether Morrissey can rekindle that talent while somehow leading an easier existence.

Whatever will happen to Morrissey?

"I wish he'd end up a chubby with a significant other watching "Carry On" movies with a bottle of brandy in his hand," says Grant Showbiz. "But I suspect it's going to be in a lonely garage with the poison, cos that's the way he wants to go out. He wants to go over the cliff in a pink Cadillac."

In the absence of any word from the great man, the final words should go to Michael Bracewell, his friend and confidant. "I really think he'll be like the heroine in "Far From The Madding Crowd" he insists, "where she says, "I shall be up before dawn and astonish you all."

Lord knows, it would not be the first time.


THE MANAGER

Gail Colson was sacked by Morrissey

"I managed Morrissey during the "Viva Hate" period, for about a year. I met him and I found him fantastic. We didn't talk about anything to do with The Smiths. We talked about the Sixties, "Coronation Street", nothing to do with music.

"But working with him was very difficult. He's hard to contact. I used to have to rely on him calling me, cos he doesn't really answer his phone. There'd be periods of months on end when I never heard from him. He disappeared on me for about a month from the day I told him the album had gone in at Number One. That was very frustrating, because everyone wanted to do interviews, and so on. He's very, very difficult to manage, but on the other hand he can be very charming, good fun.

"At that time, he never toured and didn't have a band. I didn't try to get him to tour because I'd seen what happened with The Smiths. He cancelled enough tours, didn't he?!

"Why did I stop managing him? He sacked me! He sacked me, his accountant and his lawyer on the same day. No idea why. It was bizarre, but then again nothing's bizarre with Morrissey. That's why I'm being a bit guarded. It's so sad. He's his own worst enemy. He's cut everybody out and is back where he was before fame, only stuck in a hotel room, not a bedroom.

"And he's still got his Mum running everything. Ooh, there's lots more I could tell you!"

Gail Colson now manages Stephen Street, whom Morrissey avoids.

THE BETE NOIRE

Johnny Rogan penned the unauthorised Smiths biography, "Morrissey and Marr: The Severed Alliance", following which Morrissey issued the fatwa, "I hope Johnny Rogan dies in a multiple pile-up on the M3." (He later upgraded this to "a hotel fire").

"Despite what Morrissey may think, I wrote the book because I love The Smiths. He said it was "75 per cent lies" before he's even seen it! It's funny, because when Morrissey was in court over Mike Joyce's contribution to The Smiths he picked up a copy and said, "Have you seen the title of this book? There are only two names on it: Morrissey and Marr." He also turned up at one of my bookstore signings in a Cadillac. There were some great headlines in America - "Is Morrissey a prowler?" He's very paradoxical. He's got this beatific serenity about him - he never shouts and screams - and yet there's this tremendous violence in his writing and comments.

"During the court case I found myself next to him. He just looked across at me and said, "So, this is where it all ends." Was he talking about his life, or The Smiths, or in a Wildean sense that the thing that he loved was now threatening to destroy him? But he was non-confrontational. I mean, there's somebody here who wants me to die in a motorway crash! But he doesn't come up to me swinging his bag. I said, "Do you still want me to die?" and he was quite reasonable about it. He's incredibly complex. I don't buy it that he doesn't know how painful it feels when somebody is rejected by him. Nobody walks away from Morrissey, but the one that has is Johnny Marr. And Morrissey's not stopped going on about it since!

"In a PR-driven world, Morrissey is an authentic figure. He's always had the guts to take on the world. As he nears 40 he's increasingly seen as a sort of Godfather figure, like Lou Reed was for a previous generation. Stylistically, he no longer seems radical, and in the era of Jarvis, Brett and the tabloid excesses of Oasis, Morrissey's outrages no longer compel attention in the way they did. But he's always had the ability to surprise and knows the pop game so well. Perhaps it's time he tried something different. It's quite within his nature to do something completely dramatic."

Johnny Rogan is currently working on a Morrissey sequel, avoids the M3 and stays only in bed & breakfasts.


THE COVER STAR

Sixties pools-winner Viv Nicholson adorned the sleeve of "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now"...

"Morrissey phoned me up and asked to use my image on the sleeve. I agreed, for a fee, which is usual. The first time we met, we walked along Blackpool seafront. He said he always read about what I was doing and read my book, 'Spend! Spend! Spend!' every day and it was like a Bible to him. I said to him, 'If I was younger, would you marry me?' And he said, 'Yes.' I was amazed. We talked about lots of nice, strange things. He was very strange, like me when I was younger. He was a bit lost, so much to give and no one to take it. He said, 'We're too much for this world at the moment. They're not ready for us, Viv.'

"We met several times. I'd like to have been a lasting friend of his, and I'd have liked him to be a friend of mine. Why didn't we stay in touch? Because he's a moody prat! He does know my phone number. I don't know his phone number. I have written to him, but he never answers. Why leave your address if you can't be bothered to answer? Also, someone told me lots of things he was doing about me. I went to a solicitor, and as it turns out it was the wrong guy! So we kinda fell out, and that was awful.

"He does excommunicate people, yeah, and that's wrong, but you've got to learn to be forgiving, and I don't think he wants to. It's a shame because I like him, and I don't want him to end up a sad old man in a lonely flat."

A stage version of "Spend! Spend! Spend!" is currently touring the UK.



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