Johnny Marr says The Smiths had a “blind spot” of being obsessed with media and notoriety

"Particularly one certain member of the group"

Johnny Marr has reflected on his time in The Smiths in a new interview, discussing how the seminal Manchester band had a “blind spot” of being obsessed with media and notoriety.

The Manchester icons became indie darlings at the height of their fame, before calling it a day in 1987.

Speaking to Poet Laureate Simon Armitage for the new BBC Radio 4 series The Poet Laureate Has Gone to His Shed, Marr said that the band could have done with “less” coverage at the height of their 1980s fame.


Discussing how it became their blind spot, Marr said: “I was in a very very big ‘music press’ band, which now I’m older I think we could’ve done with less of that.

“I wouldn’t say it was our downfall but I think it was a blind spot of The Smiths, being so occupied with the media and notoriety – particularly one certain member of the group. I think that could’ve been dialled down a bit and would’ve helped the group out.”

Johnny Marrr
Johnny Marr (Picture: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

In the same interview, Marr also discussed why he believes that Manchester’s musical legacy is so enduring – with the city also producing the likes of The Stone Roses and Oasis.

“I think a lot of it is to do with working-class entertainment and the history and legacy of working class entertainment,” he said.

“So in my case, and say in the case of the Gallaghers – Noel particularly, and say, Mani from the Roses – we came from immigrant families, all The Smiths in fact.”


Reflecting on his own family, who are originally from Kildare, Ireland, Marr added: “What rubbed off on me was not only their enthusiasm and pretty much their obsession for music – which they still have to this day, my parents – but the awareness of the club scene, where all the show bands would play, and this thing about going out to let off some steam and be part of a community as well.

“The Irish for example are not really that dissimilar from the Eastern Europeans in that a lot of them grew up in villages and a lot of them made their own music in their kitchens with brothers and sisters and aunties, uncles and grandparents, for entertainment – and they brought that with them.

“It’s in the DNA of working people, it’s not just about escapism, I think it’s a lot to do with community.”

Marr recently admitted that he was open to the possibility of rejoining Modest Mouse, hailing his tenure with the Portland band as “the best time of my life”.

Marr was part of the Modest Mouse set-up between 2006 and 2008, playing on the band’s album ‘We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank’ in 2007.