"A piece of cult pop history"
The NME Godlike Genius Award belonging to the late Fall frontman Mark E Smith is set to go up for auction.
The seminal punk icon passed away back in January. His ex-wife and former bandmate Brix Smith Start appeared at the VO5 NME Awards 2018 in his honour to pay tribute.
Smith was among the alumni of the NME Godlike Genius Award, having picked it up from host Eddie Izzard in 1998 in a typically chaotic manner.
“Mark handed the award to me telling me I deserved it for putting up with him,” former manager John Lennard told the Manchester Evening News. “He then hugged me and disappeared into the night. The following day I took the award to our London office where it has sat ever since.”
Lennard continued: “After Radiohead, The Verve, Beck and The Prodigy took their awards there was an announcement for a new Godlike Genius Award. Before Izzard could announce the winner, Mark got up from the table and walked on stage, cutting Eddie’s speech short.
“Mark’s first words set the tone and he went on to thank me, followed by saying the real winners of the award should be NME readers for reading it from cover to cover. Afterwards, Mark was taken backstage for a very tense interview with Jo Whiley for TV. To say it didn’t go well would be an understatement but so typical of Mark.”
He added: “If there is one incident that I think sums up Mark it was this evening where he took the chance to tell the music industry exactly what he thought of it.
“I can’t say it made my job any easier but that was Mark E Smith.”
Now, Hansons auctioneers are putting the iconic trophy up for bidding – and is expected to fetch between £5,000-£8,000.
Describing the trophy as a ‘piece of cult pop history’, Hansons valuer Jim Spencer said: “It was an honour to handle and catalogue this object having been introduced to The Fall by my older brothers when I was ten years old.
“I still love the discordant sinister glam stomp of ‘New Big Prinz’, the wired pop of ‘Hit the North’ and the mellower hung-over mood of ‘Bill is Dead’.”
After sale, £5,000 of the proceeds have been promised to Chelsea’s Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals Charity – who specialise in heart and lung cancer. The auction takes place on March 14.
Paying tribute to Smith, Brix Smith Start told NME: “Mark was absolutely true unto himself. People always say push the envelope, but for Mark E Smith there was no envelope. He was creating from a place of absolute artistic purity – it was a place that was true to him. The thought of having his voice silenced after all these years is so upsetting to me.
“He was not formally educated, he was not coming from a muso school – he was the opposite of that. He was a brilliant poet, probably one of the best.”