Johnny Marr gives first university lecture

Smiths man attacks British music industry for not being innovative enough

Johnny Marr officially became a university lecturer yesterday (November 4), as he spoke to more than 1000 people at the University of Salford in Manchester.

Standing behind a lectern, Marr spoke about the importance of “outsiders” in the music business, as well as his own songwriting partnership with Morrissey.

Marr took the opportunity to launch an attack on the British music industry, saying that artists who follow it too closely end up “castrating” themselves.


“The British music industry never, ever created anything,” he said. “It never innovated anything. It’s brought plenty of innovators to life, but everything of worth has come from outsiders.

“People out of necessity, rejection or frustration, with talent and vision, built their own ark and sailed it alongside the music industry.”

The guitarist went on to praise the likes of Jay-Z, Bob Marley, Kurt Cobain and Sex Pistols for succeeding as outsiders, saying: “In The Smiths, I wrote music for the other three because they were my best friends, not industry people, and that’s important. Jay-Z made his first album to impress his friends. But rule one – make sure you’ve got friends with good taste.”

Marr also spoke about his songwriting partnership with Morrissey, revealing that the first songs the duo wrote together were ‘Suffer Little Children’ and ‘The Hand That Rocks The Cradle’. “We had a telepathic connection,” Marr suggested.

As a Visiting Professor to the University of Salford‘s School of Media, Music and Performance, Marr is now set to lead a series of music workshops on the composition and performance of popular music.