Uncut Moz Article 1998

B

Bill Is Dead

Guest
Manchester’s Answer To The

H-Bomb

By Dave Simpson

Uncut Magazine, August 1998

The phone rings at the Sunset Marquis Hotel, Los Angeles.
"Hello, is Morrissey there?"
"I'm sorry, sir, we don't give out that kind of information."
They don't give out that kind of information. This is
becoming a mantra for all enquiries concerning Steven
Patrick Morrissey. Supposing I told you this: that in 1998
the pop icon known simply as Morrissey apparently has no
record contract, no publishing deal, no manager and no
band and is seen by some as being on the verge of
retirement.
None of this may be as far-fetched as it sounds.

Morrissey's last British album, Maladjusted, was released last
year on Island Records and sold poorly. In a phone call to
Island, they're uniquely cagey and seem unsure whether
he's even still on the label. It finally becomes clear that
Morrissey was never actually signed to Island and that
Maladjusted was licensed from US label Mercury. Despite
repeated requests, nobody at Mercury will confirm whether
Morrissey is or is not on the label. His name has been
removed from their web site list of artists. Rumours persist
he's been dropped. But some friends insist *he* dropped
the label. Others suggest he is about to sign a new
two-album deal with an unspecified label.
Earlier this year, Morrissey sacked his manager, Vicky
Wickham, who also looks after Dusty Springfield. His
previous manager, James Todd, is dead. At the moment,
Morrissey is apparently not managed by anybody. His song
publishing deal with Warner Chappell has expired and hasn't
been renewed. Warner Chappell refused to comment, and
put me on to Russell's, a firm of solicitors they tell me now
represent Morrissey, except Russell's no longer handle
Morrissey. It emerges that Morrissey as since been looked
after by Harbart & Lewis, who handled his affairs when he
was successfully sued by former Smiths drummer Mike Joyce
in 1996, except Moz no longer uses them.
The intrigue deepens. Simple enquiries to RCA Records as to
why (prior to Island) he only recorded one album for them
are met with silence. Even Island (who are basically unsure
whether Morrissey will ever record for them again)
communicate with the singer through faxes, and get scant
replies. According to one of them, Morrissey's band of the
last few years (featuring Alain Whyte, Boz Boorer, Spencer
Cobrin and Johnny Bridgwood) is "definitely still together",
although sources close to the band gingerly refute this.
Whatever the truth of that one, guitarist Whyte and
drummer Cobrin are playing in a new band, Lorca.

Why the web of intrigue?
Morrissey is an icon - like Brando or Garbo - whose influence
dwarves his actuality, whose importance, at least until
recently, was matched by his record sales. And, like many
icons, he now appears to have much to hide.
Right now - as usual - Morrissey is invisible, reclusive. He's
back in Manchester after having spent much of the year
idling in Los Angeles. In June, he appeared in London at the
Ivor Novello Awards, where he was presented with an award
for an Outstanding Contribution to British Music, which he
dedicated to "John Maher of Whythenshawe". His sole other
public words on the occasion were to say, "He [Johnny
Marr] brought me where I am today. Which begs the
question, "Where am I?""
He won't be interviewed. He has "no plans".
Morrissey has always been unpredictable. When his first solo
album, Viva Hate, went to Number One, he disappeared for
a month, uncontactable even from his manager. Even close
confidants go ages without seeing him. They assume the
friendship is over, then suddenly a fax will arrive. One of his
closest friends is described by another as "a complete
c***. The sort of person who thrives on making trouble."
If the record companies are one thing (at one point it
seemed that to ask "Can you confirm that Morrissey was in
The Smiths?" would result in a firm "No comment"),
Morrissey's friends and associated are another thing
entirely. Getting them to talk is an ordeal. Even the many
excommunicated by the singer exhibit a strange loyalty. Or
is it just loyalty?
"Morrissey can be very vindictive," said one.
"I don't really want to put him down," said another.
"He's evil in a way damaged people are," said a recently
cast aside insider.
Is this really that same man who brought us flowers and
The Smiths?

Another insider spoke of an "intimate" friendship: "It was
really close and then the phone calls stopped." Some people
close to Morrissey agreed to talk on principle and then
suddenly went to ground. Sometimes, the people you'd
expect to have little to lose from talking about him were
most steadfast in their refusal to talk about the singer's
pathologically guarded life. But, equally, some of the people
who it seemed certain would not talk did talk... and word
got back.
After 10 days of shenanigans, stonewalls, brick walls and
private investigations, I received a return call from Michael
Bracewell, author of the superb book, England Is Mine,
which includes several insightful sections on Morrissey. More
to the point, Bracewell is one of the few who remain in
Mozzer's inner circle - he lives in Manchester with Linder,
the former Ludus singer who is virtually unique in remaining
Morrissey's friend since his pre-fame days and is perhaps his
ultimate, closest confidante. A call from Bracewell was a
direct line from the Morrissey nerve centre, and it became
obvious that it had been made with the knowledge (if not
under the instructions) of His Master's Voice when Bracewell
tried to ascertain just what story we had, what revelations
we'd uncovered.
"I'm being very coy, aren't I?" he admitted, as he aimed and
dodged bluff and counter-bluff in an enjoyable investigation
game. "The thing with Morrissey is that he is everything his
writing and his music suggest he is," said Michael at one
point.
And of his closely guarded personal life?
"There's really nothing there," Michael told me. "I think the
closest comparison is with Warhol. His power stems from a
concentrated emptiness."
This was a particularly pointed comparison - anyone familiar
with Warhol would know that his own secret life contained
more skeletons than a 1918 graveyard.
This, then, is the untold story of Morrissey and The
Smiths... 15 years of bitterness and brilliance.

You wonder is they had any idea what was ahead of them
when they blazed out of Manchester in 1983 with the Rough
Trade single, "Hand In Glove", a soaring, immediate anthem
in a sleeve bedecked with a nude filched from gay
pornography. "The sun shines out of our behinds," sang
Morrissey, cheekily, unforgettably, and a movement was
born.
Proudly Mancunian and with an almost Olde English
traditionalism allied to frequently radical philosophies, The
Smiths were always much more than a band. There was
Marr, the Roger McGuinn-fringed chiming tunesmith who
seemed to drop instantly classic songs like normal people
crap; there was Morrissey, the bequiffed, overcoated,
Oscar Wilde, Sixties pop and New York Dolls - obsessed wit
who sang with primeval emotionalism rarely heard since
early Elvis Presley.
Morrissey was instantly a celebrity because pop had never
seen anything like him. He sang about repressed desire and
yet professed to be celibate. He loathed the sex and drugs
and no-intelligence culture of rock'n'roll. He espoused
literature, feminism, vegetarianism and left-wing politics,
and wrote songs equally at ease with sensitivity and
brutality, brimming with darkly humorous abject misery. He
was the unearthly amalgam of Marc Bolan, James Dean and
Charles Hawtrey. He was shockingly handsome yet sang
(only half self-mockingly), "I am sick and I am dull and I am
plain", and "16, clumsy and shy, that's the story of my
life." He was not unathletic and yet had endured a dark
adolescence of schoolday regimentalism, isolation, bedroom
fantasising and romanticised depression.
"Morrissey set himself up as the ultimate patient and,
because of that, the one sympathetic analyst a person can
have," says Michael Bracewell. "That's why there was a
mass transference with the whole f***ing audience. They
fell in love, and he was playing with it. "I am sick and I am
dull and I am plain." That just made them want him even
more."
"Manchester's answer to the H-Bomb" is how Morrissey
claimed he would like to be remembered and this seemed
entirely reasonable. With Marr and Morrissey ably backed up
by Andy Rourke ("the bass guitar") and Mike Joyce ("the
drums"), for the first two years - if not their entire career -
virtually everything The Smiths did was a seminal moment in
pop.
"I remember us discussing doing "Top of the Pops" from the
very start, but it wasn't like a dream," remembers Mike
Joyce. "It was if we knew we were going to be doing it."
If their florally-festooned appearance for "This Charming
Man" on TOTP provided one of the enduring images of the
Eighties, it was not alone. From the off, Smiths gigs were
about wonderment and revenge and beauty and ugliness
and ... theatre!
"Morrissey just started throwing confetti everywhere," says
Joyce. "That was fantastic. Y'know, everyone always had
this thing about "Dour Mancunians". But there was so much
humour with us, at the gigs everybody was laughing. People
hugging each other, and this was without E."
At the Hacienda, the group ordered 20 boxes of gladioli.
Another defining moment was provided when Morrissey
hurled the colourful flowers into the greyness of the Factory
club and Manchester's then industrial culture. The Smiths
broke rules almost daily. Early in their career, they even
tore down the backstage "no access" culture to provide
access to hundreds of fans.
"We were running around kissing each other, kissing
ourselves," recalls Grant Showbiz, Smiths' soundman. "What,
we're doing this?"
Although the band presented a united image, Morrissey had
assumed to role of bandleader early on. Joyce remembers a
turning-point at an interview with I-D.
"It was a total shambles," he says. "Mozzer kept pretty
quiet. I think he was a bit shocked at some of the things we
were saying. After that, it was deemed that he, or he and
Johnny, would do the interviews."
The Smiths were four different people, the connection was
the music. Andy, Mike and Johnny clicked like mates.
Morrissey was more solitary.
"When the sticks went down and the microphone went off,
Mozzer kept himself to himself," says Joyce. "Maybe we
should have dragged him out a bit more. He did have some
friends, but nobody else would know them. Very arty. I felt
very inadequate, as if they couldn't wait to get away and
talk about great authors! Andy felt that way too. Johnny
maybe less so. But Morrissey could be very funny, a very
witty guy."
"The thing that was unusual about him right from the start
was that he had a very strong sense of this was how he
was going to be," says Andy Catlin, who photographed
Morrissey for many years. "The way he dressed and
presented himself, the way he talked. He wasn't egocentric
in the way some rock stars are. he was one step detached
from the rest of the world."
As Morrissey's witty repartee and controversial opinions lit
up the music press in a way they never would be again, his
acute perfectionism and ambition showed - to some - a
distinctly darker side.
Early Smiths producer Troy Tate was edged out by
Morrissey, who, according to some, felt that the former
Teardrop was becoming too close to Johnny (the official
reason was that his sessions - for the eponymous first
album - weren't good enough, although many now maintain
they can't tell the difference). A stunned Tate left the
music business shortly afterwards, never to recover. The
cracks widened when original manager Joe Moss (who again
was close to Johnny) announced his withdrawal from the
group's affairs, an unexpected hammer blow that would
have extreme consequences later.
"I think he had a nervous breakdown," says Grant Showbiz.
"That or Geoff Travis [Rough Trade boss] cynically edges
him out. He was in Manchester. The record business in
London could see The Smiths could be really, really massive.
Joe had depressive problems. I think he was probably
rocking slightly and somebody gave him the final push."
Like Tate, Moss left the business.

One of the Morrisseyean traits that has endured to this day
is the differing opinions of Morrissey between those who
have worked with him or encountered him casually, and
those who managed the almost unachievable feat of
becoming a friend.
Ben Marshall worked as a translator for Morrissey in Italy
during the 1985 Meat Is Murder tour, and paints a critical
picture of Morrissey at this time that hints at xenophobia on
the singer's part.
"I didn't like him very much as a person," Marshall admits, "I
found him very remote, very distant. He had a horribly lofty
attitude. In Rome, we went to a lot of shops together, and
my job was to translate so he could buy stuff. But he had
this snooty attitude...
"You know that awful expression, 'The Wogs start at the
Channel?' We'd be walking around and people would be dead
nice. They'd be happy to have him in the store. He wouldn't
even speak to them, he would not even look at them. He'd
say, 'I want the RayBans, Ben.' And they'd have to be
handed to me."
Marr, Joyce and Rourke, on the other hand, were happy to
sit around smoking dope.
"Lovely guys," says Marshall. "Mike Joyce and Johnny Marr
were interested in Rome. I remember somebody else
remarking, 'Christ, Morrissey in a Roman fairground!' But he
was totally disinterested in Rome. He reduced The Smiths'
PR girl to tears within about 12 seconds because she'd
booked a hotel - a really nice place - but Morrissey and
Mike Joyce thought it was too downmarket. Marr - given his
dope all day - probably didn't even notice."
Marshall's fairly damning portrayal is countered by Jo Slee,
who worked in the Rough Trade production office before
becoming The Smiths' sleeve designer and eventually
Morrissey's personal assistant and one of his closest
confidantes.
"Morrissey?" she asks, "I thought he was a natural."
Unnatural? "Probably that as well! He was instantly a
celebrity. I thought he was very funny. I think the first time
I spoke to him was when they first did TOTP. They were
pretty terrified and Morrissey asked me in a whisper if I
could cross the road to get him a can of hairspray. He was
very shy.
"In the early days, I was just one of many Rough Trade
minions. When I started having more personal contact with
him, I found him incredibly responsive and decisive, very
clear. Very easy to deal with. He was acutely perfectionist.
He cared about every detail."

At this point, press and public alike became interested in
the more minute details of Morrissey's sexuality. Declaring
himself celibate had been a masterstroke. He had
simultaneously laid down a (real or imaginary) gauntlet to
the fans, while making all his (male or female) relationships
at least appear platonic and still being able to sing
hilariously dangerous lyrics like "A boy in the bush is worth
two in the hand / I think I can help you get through your
exams."
"Did he get propositions?" ponders Mike Joyce, "I'm sure he
did. But he'd set out his stall. I mean, you could ask him.
But he wouldn't tell you. There was no reason for us to
think he was putting it on."
Jo Slee insists that as late as '92 Morrissey's relationships
were "few and far between, virtually non-existent. His
sexuality? I couldn't possibly comment."
Strong rumours suggest an "intimate friendship" with a
journalist around 1984-5, and that this person was the
subject of "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore." Nowadays, that
person steadfastedly refuses to talk about Morrissey. Other
talk suggests the 1985 single, "William, It Was Really
Nothing", was a paean to Associate Billy Mackenzie.
Mackenzie's colleague, Alan Rankine, later penned a song
entitled, "Steven, It Was Really Something". Unsurprisingly,
he is now unavailable for comment.
"Morrissey seems to have this effect even after he's
rejected people," says one insider. "They still hold some kind
of loyalty towards him, even though they've been shat upon
from a great height."
Another observer points to similarities with the English
comedian Kenneth Williams, veteran star of the Carry On...
movies, who always insisted he wasn't interested in sex yet
wrote about "well-oiled builders" in his diaries. In a famous
incident, the young Williams was given a pair of boxing
gloves by his father and told they'd "make a man of him."
His reaction was to say, "Oh no, father, I don't think so."
Morrissey sang, "Will nature make a man of me yet?", and
in interviews even more self-mockingly quipped: "Before I
joined The Smiths, I had a medical problem."
In the mid-Eighties, journalists like Kris Kirk and Richard
Smith both penned articles attacking Morrissey for adopting
"gay icons" on his record sleeves while refusing to come
out. Was Morrissey gay? Or - as he liked to suggest -
almost asexual? At the time, his only public cohorts were
celebrity friends such as Lloyd Cole, Pete Burns and pools
winner Viv Nicholson, cover star of "Heaven Knows I'm
Miserable Now".
"I refuse to recognise the terms hetero-, bi- and homo-
sexual," Mozzer has said "Everybody has the same sexual
needs. People are just sexual, the prefix is immaterial." In
one provocative, distasteful incident, Antonella Black
interviewed Morrissey for Sounds, and kept on asking the
"gay" question. Exasperated by the man's denials, she finally
said, "So what if a tall, dark man walked up to you, gripped
you by the back of the neck, bent you over...." Morrissey
shrieked: "Don't!!! Stop, stop now! Stop now!"

The "vexed question of Morrissey's sexuality" as one
journalist later put it ("Who does it vex? It doesn't vex me,"
replied Moz) would stalk Morrissey later on in life. In the
meantime, tensions within The Smiths were starting to
approach boiling point. Following the stressful departure of
Joe Moss and the band's move to London, Johnny Marr
almost burnt himself out during the sessions for what would
become 1986's classic, The Queen Is Dead.
This is former Pretenders drummer and close friend of Marr,
Fred Hood: "I'd never seen anyone so under pressure as
Johnny was when they were doing The Queen Is Dead.
Johnny was writing all the songs, then arranging for
Morrissey to get to the studio when nobody else was there,
such were Morrissey's stipulations. And Johnny was
beginning to have a good time outside of that, doing
sessions with Bryan Ferry and Billy Bragg, for example. He
was beginning to enjoy being in more normal musicianly
surroundings. The Smiths were abnormal because they were
hermetically sealed. I suspect it's possibly how Geri from
The Spice Girls felt towards the end. They had this whole
thing of "us against the world", and I suspect she, like he,
probably felt it would be nice to communicate with a few
people."
Morrissey was barely able to conceal his jealously at Marr's
extra-curricular activities, but if a crisis with Marr was
looming at that point, nobody saw it. Instead, the eyes of
The Smiths and the world focused on the bass player. Andy
Rourke had dabbled in drugs since childhood, but was now
fully in the grip of a heroin addiction that was affecting his
playing. Out of concern for Andy more than their own
careers, the band sacked him and offered Craig Gannon
(ex-Aztec Camera) the bass slot. When, a week later,
Rourke was busted for possession, the band sympathetically
invited him back to clean up, keeping Gannon on as a
second guitarist. To the fans, the shock that a Smith was
involved in hard drugs came as a body-blow to the group's
puritanical image and the first public inkling that anything
was wrong.
In the meantime, the cracks were getting wider. The Smiths
were extraordinarily prolific (the colossal "How Soon Is
Now?" was originally an extra track). But they were having
problems from their record company. The Smiths wished to
leave Rough Trade, unhappy at what they saw as shoddy
treatment and a lack of promotion. Eventually, a deal would
be set up with EMI, which would commence after the band
had completed their commitments to the independent label.
The situation wasn't helped by the lack of a manager, as a
succession of caretakers were briskly dispensed with.
Mike Joyce: "Johnny and Morrissey didn't want to relinquish
control - which was good in a way because who knows
best?"
It says much about Joyce's naiveté at this time that he
thought the darkly sexual and even possibly homoerotic
"Hand In Glove" was about the closeness between the band.
As was now becoming the norm, people had differing views
on Morrissey's true motives.
Andy Catlin: "I think Morrissey started to change quite
substantially. I think he became a bit ... not power-mad,
but a control freak. I think it was a difficult time for
everyone. That period was a turning-point."
Jo Slee: "The whole thing was fraught, from the word go. I
think they were unmanageable. The group was Morrissey
and Marr. Morrissey was the management; Johnny was more
concerned with the music. Rough Trade felt they both
needed separate managers."
When the company and the group finally split, both parties
would accuse each other of "greed".
"I think there was greed in the group," says Jo Slee. "But it
wasn't coming from Morrissey. In the end, I felt Morrissey
was the protagonist in just getting the record out,
irrespective of who was gonna sign to who."
After six months in a lawyer's vault, The Queen Is Dead
confirmed the Smiths' position at the pinnacle of rock. It
was a masterful collection, packed with humour and
brutality, repressed emotion, unquenchable and unfulfillable
sexual yearning. Brilliantly, The Queen... confronted the
times while dripping with rose-tinted images of a
quasi-mythical "dear old Blighty" that offered romantic
escapes from the problems of the present.
But things had changed.
"There were a lot of mind games... communication through
non-communication remembers Mike Joyce. Around this
time, Joyce was beginning to discover that not only were
Morrissey and Marr the sole names of the Rough Trade
contract, but that non-song writing money (Morrissey and
Marr wrote all the songs) was not split equally four ways.
On the other hand, Morrissey and Marr were crippling
themselves running the group.
"The momentum of the first year carried us through when
things started to break down," reflects Grant Showbiz. "At
first it was that classic thing of the manager, the band and
the road crew in the same van, everyone knowing each
other and finding each other's jokes funny. It was like that
and then it suddenly leapt. The original road crew
evaporated and we lost Joe, and then suddenly we went to
America and it was never the same again."

Johnny Marr's mental and physical condition on what had
proved to be the fatal American tour of 1986 has always
been put down to "alcoholism".
Grant Showbiz: "There was cocaine about, and limitless
amounts of booze... you're wondering how far you can go. I
don't think you become an alcoholic over six weeks, buy
yeah, you're drinking every day, and you're drinking to
excess, and you've never done that. Again, you want to
see what it is like, 'Wow, I can still think straight and I've
been up for three days. Whoops I've just fallen over.' It's a
learning curve, and I think all of us said 'OK, let's bloody do
it. Let's have the hotel with the swimming pool on the roof,
let's go down the bloody Whiskey-A-Go-Go and 15 more
clubs, and get arrested for trying to beat up a policeman.' It
was insane! I was definitely going to the mixing desk the
worse for wear. But I can't remember Johnny ever being
unable to play because of abuse. I can remember Johnny
being very out of it, and Morrissey being very hard to get
hold of. The amount of time it took to get Morrissey
onstage was getting longer and longer. There was this great
game he'd play of wanting to be asked 15 times, if it'd been
14 the night before. Johnny was like 'Let's Rock!' and
Mozzer'd be 'Well, somebody's got to ask me another seven
times.'"
Mike Joyce: "Bar Morrissey, we were certainly burning it at
both ends. And in the middle."
Andy Catlin: "Mike in particular started to get into drugs and
stuff a lot. There seemed to be more of a separation
between all the members of the band, not just Johnny and
Morrissey. There was a very different pressure on Andy and
Mike... the pressure of not having any control and getting
out of it a lot in response to that.
"Mike and Andy were out a lot. I'd bump into them at clubs.
They definitely headed for the underbelly of rock'n'roll.
They'd gone into the darkness."

Morrissey began to feel excluded from and annoyed by the
debauchery, his concern illustrated in an incident with Joyce
when the drummer had performed an encore while drunk.
"We did make attempts to bring him in," insists Showbiz. "I
think there's a sort of Kenneth Williams element to
Morrissey, where he wants it, he wants it, but no he can't
have it.
"I have seen Morrissey drunk and I have seen Morrissey out
of it, but not at the same time as we were."
Marr's friends on tour included Fred Hood and Guy Pratt, a
Mancunian bass player who was at one point talked of as a
replacement for Andy. Morrissey was increasingly isolated.
Grant: "Was Morrissey comfortable not being comfortable? I
think he sorta liked it like that."
Central to the slow collapse of The Smiths was the complex
and intriguing relationship between Morrissey and Marr.
"I think Johnny understood Morrissey more than anyone else
in the world," says Showbiz. "I think they were still intimate
throughout that whole tour, although it wasn't a public
intimacy. During the day, they were having conversations
on the phone, and certainly Angie [Marr's wife] and
Morrissey were spending time together. It's complicated. I
mean, in certain respects every song writing relationship is
like love affair, and it does have these pushes and pulls. It
was almost illogical; the gulf that was coming between
Johnny and Morrissey, and you couldn't put it down to any
one thing. Again, it was almost like Morrissey living out his
doomed fantasies. I think at some point one of them
thought, "I can't do this. You're saying you want to be on in
this stuff but when I move towards you, you move away. Or
vice versa. There's no rhythm between us." Whereas
before, they were finishing each other's sentences.
"At first, it was a very public togetherness. I think their
togetherness went into a much more private thing, and then
just seemed to dissolve."

With the Marr-Morrissey relationship buckling, that
September's Queen... tour cut a determined swathe across
the UK. A public diversion occurred when Melody Maker
journalist Frank Owen penned a highly critical but bizarre
article condemning that month's "Panic" single ("Burn down
the disco...") as "an attack on black pop". Morrissey was
sufficiently provoked to claim that reggae was the "most
racist music in the entire world" and "a glorification of black
supremacy". Even less wisely, he suggested a pro-black
conspiracy at TOTP. Nevertheless, the Queen... tour was
largely triumphant, less fraught than America. There was
considerable humour. Morrissey often held a banner
proclaiming "The Queen Is Dead". On the back it said "Two
light ales!"
But there were problems involving violence. Shortly after
Morrissey - ever the provocateur - announced regret that
Thatcher hadn't died in the 1984 Brighton bombing, the
band were confronted by skinheads in Preston. "There was
an air of violence, of danger," remembers Mike Joyce.
Morrissey was hit by flying objects, the gig was aborted,
and the road crew ended up fighting with the audience.
After the final night, in Manchester, Craig Gannon was
sacked via a friend, Marr calling him "a lazy bastard". Soon
afterwards, Johnny piled his car into a brick wall in Bowdon
and was lucky not to be killed. The year ended with what
would prove t0 be The Smiths' last British gig, at Brixton
Academy on December 12, 1986.

In 1987, things were further complicated by the recruitment
of Ken Friedman, an American manager.
"He wasn't at all straightforward," says Jo Slee. "I suspect
he was playing off one against the other."
Grant: "The big problem was nobody took an overview.
Nobody said, 'Why don't you take a holiday, guys, because
you look knackered and you're arguing all the time?' It was a
heady rush, but nobody realised that The Smiths wasn't
Morrissey or Johnny, but Morrissey and Johnny. Maybe if
someone had done and given them space, The Smiths would
still be going." The band were still going, but only just. 1987
saw just one - last - Smiths performance at San Remo in
Italy. A split with long-time producer John Porter was
instigated when Morrissey brought in Stephen Street to
remix the April single, "Sheila Take A Bow", with it's
tantalising hints of transvestitism. However, with Street
now on board, the Strangeways sessions were unusually
stress-free for most of the group.
Mike: "There was no darkness in the and as far as I was
concerned. The darkness was coming from the music.
Maybe we were growing apart. Maybe it was there in front
of me and I didn't want to see it."
On the other hand, the pressure was becoming intolerable
for Marr. What were to be the final Smiths sessions took
place in May at Grant Showbiz's Streatham
 
H

Hazard

Guest
secret life ?

> Manchester’s Answer To The

> H-Bomb

> By Dave Simpson

> Uncut Magazine, August 1998

> The phone rings at the Sunset Marquis Hotel, Los Angeles.
> "Hello, is Morrissey there?"
> "I'm sorry, sir, we don't give out that kind of information."
> They don't give out that kind of information. This is
> becoming a mantra for all enquiries concerning Steven
> Patrick Morrissey. Supposing I told you this: that in 1998
> the pop icon known simply as Morrissey apparently has no
> record contract, no publishing deal, no manager and no
> band and is seen by some as being on the verge of
> retirement.
> None of this may be as far-fetched as it sounds.

> Morrissey's last British album, Maladjusted, was released last
> year on Island Records and sold poorly. In a phone call to
> Island, they're uniquely cagey and seem unsure whether
> he's even still on the label. It finally becomes clear that
> Morrissey was never actually signed to Island and that
> Maladjusted was licensed from US label Mercury. Despite
> repeated requests, nobody at Mercury will confirm whether
> Morrissey is or is not on the label. His name has been
> removed from their web site list of artists. Rumours persist
> he's been dropped. But some friends insist *he* dropped
> the label. Others suggest he is about to sign a new
> two-album deal with an unspecified label.
> Earlier this year, Morrissey sacked his manager, Vicky
> Wickham, who also looks after Dusty Springfield. His
> previous manager, James Todd, is dead. At the moment,
> Morrissey is apparently not managed by anybody. His song
> publishing deal with Warner Chappell has expired and hasn't
> been renewed. Warner Chappell refused to comment, and
> put me on to Russell's, a firm of solicitors they tell me now
> represent Morrissey, except Russell's no longer handle
> Morrissey. It emerges that Morrissey as since been looked
> after by Harbart & Lewis, who handled his affairs when he
> was successfully sued by former Smiths drummer Mike Joyce
> in 1996, except Moz no longer uses them.
> The intrigue deepens. Simple enquiries to RCA Records as to
> why (prior to Island) he only recorded one album for them
> are met with silence. Even Island (who are basically unsure
> whether Morrissey will ever record for them again)
> communicate with the singer through faxes, and get scant
> replies. According to one of them, Morrissey's band of the
> last few years (featuring Alain Whyte, Boz Boorer, Spencer
> Cobrin and Johnny Bridgwood) is "definitely still together",
> although sources close to the band gingerly refute this.
> Whatever the truth of that one, guitarist Whyte and
> drummer Cobrin are playing in a new band, Lorca.

> Why the web of intrigue?
> Morrissey is an icon - like Brando or Garbo - whose influence
> dwarves his actuality, whose importance, at least until
> recently, was matched by his record sales. And, like many
> icons, he now appears to have much to hide.
> Right now - as usual - Morrissey is invisible, reclusive. He's
> back in Manchester after having spent much of the year
> idling in Los Angeles. In June, he appeared in London at the
> Ivor Novello Awards, where he was presented with an award
> for an Outstanding Contribution to British Music, which he
> dedicated to "John Maher of Whythenshawe". His sole other
> public words on the occasion were to say, "He [Johnny
> Marr] brought me where I am today. Which begs the
> question, "Where am I?""
> He won't be interviewed. He has "no plans".
> Morrissey has always been unpredictable. When his first solo
> album, Viva Hate, went to Number One, he disappeared for
> a month, uncontactable even from his manager. Even close
> confidants go ages without seeing him. They assume the
> friendship is over, then suddenly a fax will arrive. One of his
> closest friends is described by another as "a complete
> c***. The sort of person who thrives on making trouble."
> If the record companies are one thing (at one point it
> seemed that to ask "Can you confirm that Morrissey was in
> The Smiths?" would result in a firm "No comment"),
> Morrissey's friends and associated are another thing
> entirely. Getting them to talk is an ordeal. Even the many
> excommunicated by the singer exhibit a strange loyalty. Or
> is it just loyalty?
> "Morrissey can be very vindictive," said one.
> "I don't really want to put him down," said another.
> "He's evil in a way damaged people are," said a recently
> cast aside insider.
> Is this really that same man who brought us flowers and
> The Smiths?

> Another insider spoke of an "intimate" friendship: "It was
> really close and then the phone calls stopped." Some people
> close to Morrissey agreed to talk on principle and then
> suddenly went to ground. Sometimes, the people you'd
> expect to have little to lose from talking about him were
> most steadfast in their refusal to talk about the singer's
> pathologically guarded life. But, equally, some of the people
> who it seemed certain would not talk did talk... and word
> got back.
> After 10 days of shenanigans, stonewalls, brick walls and
> private investigations, I received a return call from Michael
> Bracewell, author of the superb book, England Is Mine,
> which includes several insightful sections on Morrissey. More
> to the point, Bracewell is one of the few who remain in
> Mozzer's inner circle - he lives in Manchester with Linder,
> the former Ludus singer who is virtually unique in remaining
> Morrissey's friend since his pre-fame days and is perhaps his
> ultimate, closest confidante. A call from Bracewell was a
> direct line from the Morrissey nerve centre, and it became
> obvious that it had been made with the knowledge (if not
> under the instructions) of His Master's Voice when Bracewell
> tried to ascertain just what story we had, what revelations
> we'd uncovered.
> "I'm being very coy, aren't I?" he admitted, as he aimed and
> dodged bluff and counter-bluff in an enjoyable investigation
> game. "The thing with Morrissey is that he is everything his
> writing and his music suggest he is," said Michael at one
> point.
> And of his closely guarded personal life?
> "There's really nothing there," Michael told me. "I think
> the
> closest comparison is with Warhol. His power stems from a
> concentrated emptiness."
> This was a particularly pointed comparison - anyone familiar
> with Warhol would know that his own secret life contained
> more skeletons than a 1918 graveyard.
> This, then, is the untold story of Morrissey and The
> Smiths... 15 years of bitterness and brilliance.

> You wonder is they had any idea what was ahead of them
> when they blazed out of Manchester in 1983 with the Rough
> Trade single, "Hand In Glove", a soaring, immediate anthem
> in a sleeve bedecked with a nude filched from gay
> pornography. "The sun shines out of our behinds," sang
> Morrissey, cheekily, unforgettably, and a movement was
> born.
> Proudly Mancunian and with an almost Olde English
> traditionalism allied to frequently radical philosophies, The
> Smiths were always much more than a band. There was
> Marr, the Roger McGuinn-fringed chiming tunesmith who
> seemed to drop instantly classic songs like normal people
> crap; there was Morrissey, the bequiffed, overcoated,
> Oscar Wilde, Sixties pop and New York Dolls - obsessed wit
> who sang with primeval emotionalism rarely heard since
> early Elvis Presley.
> Morrissey was instantly a celebrity because pop had never
> seen anything like him. He sang about repressed desire and
> yet professed to be celibate. He loathed the sex and drugs
> and no-intelligence culture of rock'n'roll. He espoused
> literature, feminism, vegetarianism and left-wing politics,
> and wrote songs equally at ease with sensitivity and
> brutality, brimming with darkly humorous abject misery. He
> was the unearthly amalgam of Marc Bolan, James Dean and
> Charles Hawtrey. He was shockingly handsome yet sang
> (only half self-mockingly), "I am sick and I am dull and I am
> plain", and "16, clumsy and shy, that's the story of my
> life." He was not unathletic and yet had endured a dark
> adolescence of schoolday regimentalism, isolation, bedroom
> fantasising and romanticised depression.
> "Morrissey set himself up as the ultimate patient and,
> because of that, the one sympathetic analyst a person can
> have," says Michael Bracewell. "That's why there was a
> mass transference with the whole f***ing audience. They
> fell in love, and he was playing with it. "I am sick and I am
> dull and I am plain." That just made them want him even
> more."
> "Manchester's answer to the H-Bomb" is how Morrissey
> claimed he would like to be remembered and this seemed
> entirely reasonable. With Marr and Morrissey ably backed up
> by Andy Rourke ("the bass guitar") and Mike Joyce ("the
> drums"), for the first two years - if not their entire career -
> virtually everything The Smiths did was a seminal moment in
> pop.
> "I remember us discussing doing "Top of the Pops" from the
> very start, but it wasn't like a dream," remembers Mike
> Joyce. "It was if we knew we were going to be doing it."
> If their florally-festooned appearance for "This Charming
> Man" on TOTP provided one of the enduring images of the
> Eighties, it was not alone. From the off, Smiths gigs were
> about wonderment and revenge and beauty and ugliness
> and ... theatre!
> "Morrissey just started throwing confetti everywhere," says
> Joyce. "That was fantastic. Y'know, everyone always had
> this thing about "Dour Mancunians". But there was so much
> humour with us, at the gigs everybody was laughing. People
> hugging each other, and this was without E."
> At the Hacienda, the group ordered 20 boxes of gladioli.
> Another defining moment was provided when Morrissey
> hurled the colourful flowers into the greyness of the Factory
> club and Manchester's then industrial culture. The Smiths
> broke rules almost daily. Early in their career, they even
> tore down the backstage "no access" culture to provide
> access to hundreds of fans.
> "We were running around kissing each other, kissing
> ourselves," recalls Grant Showbiz, Smiths' soundman. "What,
> we're doing this?"
> Although the band presented a united image, Morrissey had
> assumed to role of bandleader early on. Joyce remembers a
> turning-point at an interview with I-D.
> "It was a total shambles," he says. "Mozzer kept pretty
> quiet. I think he was a bit shocked at some of the things we
> were saying. After that, it was deemed that he, or he and
> Johnny, would do the interviews."
> The Smiths were four different people, the connection was
> the music. Andy, Mike and Johnny clicked like mates.
> Morrissey was more solitary.
> "When the sticks went down and the microphone went off,
> Mozzer kept himself to himself," says Joyce. "Maybe we
> should have dragged him out a bit more. He did have some
> friends, but nobody else would know them. Very arty. I felt
> very inadequate, as if they couldn't wait to get away and
> talk about great authors! Andy felt that way too. Johnny
> maybe less so. But Morrissey could be very funny, a very
> witty guy."
> "The thing that was unusual about him right from the start
> was that he had a very strong sense of this was how he
> was going to be," says Andy Catlin, who photographed
> Morrissey for many years. "The way he dressed and
> presented himself, the way he talked. He wasn't egocentric
> in the way some rock stars are. he was one step detached
> from the rest of the world."
> As Morrissey's witty repartee and controversial opinions lit
> up the music press in a way they never would be again, his
> acute perfectionism and ambition showed - to some - a
> distinctly darker side.
> Early Smiths producer Troy Tate was edged out by
> Morrissey, who, according to some, felt that the former
> Teardrop was becoming too close to Johnny (the official
> reason was that his sessions - for the eponymous first
> album - weren't good enough, although many now maintain
> they can't tell the difference). A stunned Tate left the
> music business shortly afterwards, never to recover. The
> cracks widened when original manager Joe Moss (who again
> was close to Johnny) announced his withdrawal from the
> group's affairs, an unexpected hammer blow that would
> have extreme consequences later.
> "I think he had a nervous breakdown," says Grant Showbiz.
> "That or Geoff Travis [Rough Trade boss] cynically edges
> him out. He was in Manchester. The record business in
> London could see The Smiths could be really, really massive.
> Joe had depressive problems. I think he was probably
> rocking slightly and somebody gave him the final push."
> Like Tate, Moss left the business.

> One of the Morrisseyean traits that has endured to this day
> is the differing opinions of Morrissey between those who
> have worked with him or encountered him casually, and
> those who managed the almost unachievable feat of
> becoming a friend.
> Ben Marshall worked as a translator for Morrissey in Italy
> during the 1985 Meat Is Murder tour, and paints a critical
> picture of Morrissey at this time that hints at xenophobia on
> the singer's part.
> "I didn't like him very much as a person," Marshall admits,
> "I
> found him very remote, very distant. He had a horribly lofty
> attitude. In Rome, we went to a lot of shops together, and
> my job was to translate so he could buy stuff. But he had
> this snooty attitude...
> "You know that awful expression, 'The Wogs start at the
> Channel?' We'd be walking around and people would be dead
> nice. They'd be happy to have him in the store. He wouldn't
> even speak to them, he would not even look at them. He'd
> say, 'I want the RayBans, Ben.' And they'd have to be
> handed to me."
> Marr, Joyce and Rourke, on the other hand, were happy to
> sit around smoking dope.
> "Lovely guys," says Marshall. "Mike Joyce and Johnny Marr
> were interested in Rome. I remember somebody else
> remarking, 'Christ, Morrissey in a Roman fairground!' But he
> was totally disinterested in Rome. He reduced The Smiths'
> PR girl to tears within about 12 seconds because she'd
> booked a hotel - a really nice place - but Morrissey and
> Mike Joyce thought it was too downmarket. Marr - given his
> dope all day - probably didn't even notice."
> Marshall's fairly damning portrayal is countered by Jo Slee,
> who worked in the Rough Trade production office before
> becoming The Smiths' sleeve designer and eventually
> Morrissey's personal assistant and one of his closest
> confidantes.
> "Morrissey?" she asks, "I thought he was a natural."
> Unnatural? "Probably that as well! He was instantly a
> celebrity. I thought he was very funny. I think the first time
> I spoke to him was when they first did TOTP. They were
> pretty terrified and Morrissey asked me in a whisper if I
> could cross the road to get him a can of hairspray. He was
> very shy.
> "In the early days, I was just one of many Rough Trade
> minions. When I started having more personal contact with
> him, I found him incredibly responsive and decisive, very
> clear. Very easy to deal with. He was acutely perfectionist.
> He cared about every detail."

> At this point, press and public alike became interested in
> the more minute details of Morrissey's sexuality. Declaring
> himself celibate had been a masterstroke. He had
> simultaneously laid down a (real or imaginary) gauntlet to
> the fans, while making all his (male or female) relationships
> at least appear platonic and still being able to sing
> hilariously dangerous lyrics like "A boy in the bush is worth
> two in the hand / I think I can help you get through your
> exams."
> "Did he get propositions?" ponders Mike Joyce, "I'm sure he
> did. But he'd set out his stall. I mean, you could ask him.
> But he wouldn't tell you. There was no reason for us to
> think he was putting it on."
> Jo Slee insists that as late as '92 Morrissey's relationships
> were "few and far between, virtually non-existent. His
> sexuality? I couldn't possibly comment."
> Strong rumours suggest an "intimate friendship" with a
> journalist around 1984-5, and that this person was the
> subject of "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore." Nowadays, that
> person steadfastedly refuses to talk about Morrissey. Other
> talk suggests the 1985 single, "William, It Was Really
> Nothing", was a paean to Associate Billy Mackenzie.
> Mackenzie's colleague, Alan Rankine, later penned a song
> entitled, "Steven, It Was Really Something". Unsurprisingly,
> he is now unavailable for comment.
> "Morrissey seems to have this effect even after he's
> rejected people," says one insider. "They still hold some kind
> of loyalty towards him, even though they've been shat upon
> from a great height."
> Another observer points to similarities with the English
> comedian Kenneth Williams, veteran star of the Carry On...
> movies, who always insisted he wasn't interested in sex yet
> wrote about "well-oiled builders" in his diaries. In a famous
> incident, the young Williams was given a pair of boxing
> gloves by his father and told they'd "make a man of him."
> His reaction was to say, "Oh no, father, I don't think so."
> Morrissey sang, "Will nature make a man of me yet?", and
> in interviews even more self-mockingly quipped: "Before I
> joined The Smiths, I had a medical problem."
> In the mid-Eighties, journalists like Kris Kirk and Richard
> Smith both penned articles attacking Morrissey for adopting
> "gay icons" on his record sleeves while refusing to come
> out. Was Morrissey gay? Or - as he liked to suggest -
> almost asexual? At the time, his only public cohorts were
> celebrity friends such as Lloyd Cole, Pete Burns and pools
> winner Viv Nicholson, cover star of "Heaven Knows I'm
> Miserable Now".
> "I refuse to recognise the terms hetero-, bi- and homo-
> sexual," Mozzer has said "Everybody has the same sexual
> needs. People are just sexual, the prefix is immaterial." In
> one provocative, distasteful incident, Antonella Black
> interviewed Morrissey for Sounds, and kept on asking the
> "gay" question. Exasperated by the man's denials, she finally
> said, "So what if a tall, dark man walked up to you, gripped
> you by the back of the neck, bent you over...." Morrissey
> shrieked: "Don't!!! Stop, stop now! Stop now!"

> The "vexed question of Morrissey's sexuality" as one
> journalist later put it ("Who does it vex? It doesn't vex me,"
> replied Moz) would stalk Morrissey later on in life. In the
> meantime, tensions within The Smiths were starting to
> approach boiling point. Following the stressful departure of
> Joe Moss and the band's move to London, Johnny Marr
> almost burnt himself out during the sessions for what would
> become 1986's classic, The Queen Is Dead.
> This is former Pretenders drummer and close friend of Marr,
> Fred Hood: "I'd never seen anyone so under pressure as
> Johnny was when they were doing The Queen Is Dead.
> Johnny was writing all the songs, then arranging for
> Morrissey to get to the studio when nobody else was there,
> such were Morrissey's stipulations. And Johnny was
> beginning to have a good time outside of that, doing
> sessions with Bryan Ferry and Billy Bragg, for example. He
> was beginning to enjoy being in more normal musicianly
> surroundings. The Smiths were abnormal because they were
> hermetically sealed. I suspect it's possibly how Geri from
> The Spice Girls felt towards the end. They had this whole
> thing of "us against the world", and I suspect she, like he,
> probably felt it would be nice to communicate with a few
> people."
> Morrissey was barely able to conceal his jealously at Marr's
> extra-curricular activities, but if a crisis with Marr was
> looming at that point, nobody saw it. Instead, the eyes of
> The Smiths and the world focused on the bass player. Andy
> Rourke had dabbled in drugs since childhood, but was now
> fully in the grip of a heroin addiction that was affecting his
> playing. Out of concern for Andy more than their own
> careers, the band sacked him and offered Craig Gannon
> (ex-Aztec Camera) the bass slot. When, a week later,
> Rourke was busted for possession, the band sympathetically
> invited him back to clean up, keeping Gannon on as a
> second guitarist. To the fans, the shock that a Smith was
> involved in hard drugs came as a body-blow to the group's
> puritanical image and the first public inkling that anything
> was wrong.
> In the meantime, the cracks were getting wider. The Smiths
> were extraordinarily prolific (the colossal "How Soon Is
> Now?" was originally an extra track). But they were having
> problems from their record company. The Smiths wished to
> leave Rough Trade, unhappy at what they saw as shoddy
> treatment and a lack of promotion. Eventually, a deal would
> be set up with EMI, which would commence after the band
> had completed their commitments to the independent label.
> The situation wasn't helped by the lack of a manager, as a
> succession of caretakers were briskly dispensed with.
> Mike Joyce: "Johnny and Morrissey didn't want to relinquish
> control - which was good in a way because who knows
> best?"
> It says much about Joyce's naiveté at this time that he
> thought the darkly sexual and even possibly homoerotic
> "Hand In Glove" was about the closeness between the band.
> As was now becoming the norm, people had differing views
> on Morrissey's true motives.
> Andy Catlin: "I think Morrissey started to change quite
> substantially. I think he became a bit ... not power-mad,
> but a control freak. I think it was a difficult time for
> everyone. That period was a turning-point."
> Jo Slee: "The whole thing was fraught, from the word go. I
> think they were unmanageable. The group was Morrissey
> and Marr. Morrissey was the management; Johnny was more
> concerned with the music. Rough Trade felt they both
> needed separate managers."
> When the company and the group finally split, both parties
> would accuse each other of "greed".
> "I think there was greed in the group," says Jo Slee. "But
> it
> wasn't coming from Morrissey. In the end, I felt Morrissey
> was the protagonist in just getting the record out,
> irrespective of who was gonna sign to who."
> After six months in a lawyer's vault, The Queen Is Dead
> confirmed the Smiths' position at the pinnacle of rock. It
> was a masterful collection, packed with humour and
> brutality, repressed emotion, unquenchable and unfulfillable
> sexual yearning. Brilliantly, The Queen... confronted the
> times while dripping with rose-tinted images of a
> quasi-mythical "dear old Blighty" that offered romantic
> escapes from the problems of the present.
> But things had changed.
> "There were a lot of mind games... communication through
> non-communication remembers Mike Joyce. Around this
> time, Joyce was beginning to discover that not only were
> Morrissey and Marr the sole names of the Rough Trade
> contract, but that non-song writing money (Morrissey and
> Marr wrote all the songs) was not split equally four ways.
> On the other hand, Morrissey and Marr were crippling
> themselves running the group.
> "The momentum of the first year carried us through when
> things started to break down," reflects Grant Showbiz. "At
> first it was that classic thing of the manager, the band and
> the road crew in the same van, everyone knowing each
> other and finding each other's jokes funny. It was like that
> and then it suddenly leapt. The original road crew
> evaporated and we lost Joe, and then suddenly we went to
> America and it was never the same again."

> Johnny Marr's mental and physical condition on what had
> proved to be the fatal American tour of 1986 has always
> been put down to "alcoholism".
> Grant Showbiz: "There was cocaine about, and limitless
> amounts of booze... you're wondering how far you can go. I
> don't think you become an alcoholic over six weeks, buy
> yeah, you're drinking every day, and you're drinking to
> excess, and you've never done that. Again, you want to
> see what it is like, 'Wow, I can still think straight and I've
> been up for three days. Whoops I've just fallen over.' It's a
> learning curve, and I think all of us said 'OK, let's bloody do
> it. Let's have the hotel with the swimming pool on the roof,
> let's go down the bloody Whiskey-A-Go-Go and 15 more
> clubs, and get arrested for trying to beat up a policeman.' It
> was insane! I was definitely going to the mixing desk the
> worse for wear. But I can't remember Johnny ever being
> unable to play because of abuse. I can remember Johnny
> being very out of it, and Morrissey being very hard to get
> hold of. The amount of time it took to get Morrissey
> onstage was getting longer and longer. There was this great
> game he'd play of wanting to be asked 15 times, if it'd been
> 14 the night before. Johnny was like 'Let's Rock!' and
> Mozzer'd be 'Well, somebody's got to ask me another seven
> times.'"
> Mike Joyce: "Bar Morrissey, we were certainly burning it at
> both ends. And in the middle."
> Andy Catlin: "Mike in particular started to get into drugs and
> stuff a lot. There seemed to be more of a separation
> between all the members of the band, not just Johnny and
> Morrissey. There was a very different pressure on Andy and
> Mike... the pressure of not having any control and getting
> out of it a lot in response to that.
> "Mike and Andy were out a lot. I'd bump into them at clubs.
> They definitely headed for the underbelly of rock'n'roll.
> They'd gone into the darkness."

> Morrissey began to feel excluded from and annoyed by the
> debauchery, his concern illustrated in an incident with Joyce
> when the drummer had performed an encore while drunk.
> "We did make attempts to bring him in," insists Showbiz. "I
> think there's a sort of Kenneth Williams element to
> Morrissey, where he wants it, he wants it, but no he can't
> have it.
> "I have seen Morrissey drunk and I have seen Morrissey out
> of it, but not at the same time as we were."
> Marr's friends on tour included Fred Hood and Guy Pratt, a
> Mancunian bass player who was at one point talked of as a
> replacement for Andy. Morrissey was increasingly isolated.
> Grant: "Was Morrissey comfortable not being comfortable? I
> think he sorta liked it like that."
> Central to the slow collapse of The Smiths was the complex
> and intriguing relationship between Morrissey and Marr.
> "I think Johnny understood Morrissey more than anyone else
> in the world," says Showbiz. "I think they were still intimate
> throughout that whole tour, although it wasn't a public
> intimacy. During the day, they were having conversations
> on the phone, and certainly Angie [Marr's wife] and
> Morrissey were spending time together. It's complicated. I
> mean, in certain respects every song writing relationship is
> like love affair, and it does have these pushes and pulls. It
> was almost illogical; the gulf that was coming between
> Johnny and Morrissey, and you couldn't put it down to any
> one thing. Again, it was almost like Morrissey living out his
> doomed fantasies. I think at some point one of them
> thought, "I can't do this. You're saying you want to be on in
> this stuff but when I move towards you, you move away. Or
> vice versa. There's no rhythm between us." Whereas
> before, they were finishing each other's sentences.
> "At first, it was a very public togetherness. I think their
> togetherness went into a much more private thing, and then
> just seemed to dissolve."

> With the Marr-Morrissey relationship buckling, that
> September's Queen... tour cut a determined swathe across
> the UK. A public diversion occurred when Melody Maker
> journalist Frank Owen penned a highly critical but bizarre
> article condemning that month's "Panic" single ("Burn down
> the disco...") as "an attack on black pop". Morrissey was
> sufficiently provoked to claim that reggae was the "most
> racist music in the entire world" and "a glorification of black
> supremacy". Even less wisely, he suggested a pro-black
> conspiracy at TOTP. Nevertheless, the Queen... tour was
> largely triumphant, less fraught than America. There was
> considerable humour. Morrissey often held a banner
> proclaiming "The Queen Is Dead". On the back it said "Two
> light ales!"
> But there were problems involving violence. Shortly after
> Morrissey - ever the provocateur - announced regret that
> Thatcher hadn't died in the 1984 Brighton bombing, the
> band were confronted by skinheads in Preston. "There was
> an air of violence, of danger," remembers Mike Joyce.
> Morrissey was hit by flying objects, the gig was aborted,
> and the road crew ended up fighting with the audience.
> After the final night, in Manchester, Craig Gannon was
> sacked via a friend, Marr calling him "a lazy bastard". Soon
> afterwards, Johnny piled his car into a brick wall in Bowdon
> and was lucky not to be killed. The year ended with what
> would prove t0 be The Smiths' last British gig, at Brixton
> Academy on December 12, 1986.

> In 1987, things were further complicated by the recruitment
> of Ken Friedman, an American manager.
> "He wasn't at all straightforward," says Jo Slee. "I
> suspect
> he was playing off one against the other."
> Grant: "The big problem was nobody took an overview.
> Nobody said, 'Why don't you take a holiday, guys, because
> you look knackered and you're arguing all the time?' It was a
> heady rush, but nobody realised that The Smiths wasn't
> Morrissey or Johnny, but Morrissey and Johnny. Maybe if
> someone had done and given them space, The Smiths would
> still be going." The band were still going, but only just. 1987
> saw just one - last - Smiths performance at San Remo in
> Italy. A split with long-time producer John Porter was
> instigated when Morrissey brought in Stephen Street to
> remix the April single, "Sheila Take A Bow", with it's
> tantalising hints of transvestitism. However, with Street
> now on board, the Strangeways sessions were unusually
> stress-free for most of the group.
> Mike: "There was no darkness in the and as far as I was
> concerned. The darkness was coming from the music.
> Maybe we were growing apart. Maybe it was there in front
> of me and I didn't want to see it."
> On the other hand, the pressure was becoming intolerable
> for Marr. What were to be the final Smiths sessions took
> place in May at Grant Showbiz's Streatham
 
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