The Smiths bassist Andy Rourke has died

Former bandmate Johnny Marr revealed that Rourke's death comes after a "lengthy illness with pancreatic cancer"

Andy Rourke, bassist for The Smiths, has died. He was 59.

Rourke’s death was announced today (May 19) by former bandmate Johnny Marr on social media. Per Marr’s statement, Rourke died following “a lengthy illness with pancreatic cancer”.

Marr also paid tribute to his former bandmate, writing: “Andy will be remembered as a kind and beautiful soul by those who knew him and as a supremely gifted musician by music fans.”

Rourke was best known for being the main bassist for The Smiths between 1982 and 1986, and again from 1986 to 1987. Rourke performed on all four of The Smiths’ studio albums: 1984’s ‘The Smiths’, 1985’s ‘Meat Is Murder’, 1986’s ‘The Queen Is Dead’ and 1987’s ‘Strangeways, Here We Come’.

Outside of The Smiths, Rourke also formed and performed with supergroup Freebass alongside New Order’s Peter Hook and the Stone Roses’ Mani. He also recorded with The Pretenders for their 1994 record ‘Last of the Independents’ and Moondog One with former Oasis guitarist Bonehead.

Rourke met Marr at the age of 11, with the pair jamming together in the music room at their school. Four years later, after leaving school, Rourke formed The Smiths in Manchester with Marr, Morrissey and drummer Mike Joyce in 1982.

In a longer tribute on Instagram, Johnny Marr recalled his relationship with Rourke, writing: “Andy and I met as schoolboys in 1975. We were best friends, going everywhere together. When we were fifteen I moved into his house with him and his three brothers and I soon came to realise that my mate was one of those rare people that absolutely no one doesn’t like.”

“Andy and I spent all our time studying music, having fun, and working on becoming the best musicians we could possibly be. Back then Andy was a guitar player and a good one at that, but it was when he picked up the bass that he would find his true calling and his singular talent would flourish,” Marr continued.

He wrote about their friendship following The Smiths’ split: “We maintained our friendship over the years, no matter where we were or what was happening and it is a matter of personal pride as well as sadness that the last time Andy played on stage was with me and my band at Maddison Square Garden in September 2022. It was a special moment that we shared with my family and his wife and soul mate Francesca.”

“Andy will always be remembered, as a kind and beautiful soul by everyone who knew him, and as a supremely gifted musician by people who love music. Well done Andy. We’ll miss you brother.”

See Johnny Marr’s full tribute post here.

Following the news of Rourke’s death, several musicians and members of the industry have taken to social media to pay tribute to the late bassist.

The Smiths producer Stephen Street wrote: “I am so saddened to hear this news! Andy was a superb musician and a lovely guy. I haven’t been able to read any other news about details yet but I send my deepest condolences and thoughts to his friends and family. RIP”.

Suede bassist Mat Osman wrote: “A total one-off – a rare bassist whose sound you could recognise straight away. I remember so clearly playing that Barbarism break over and over, trying to learn the riff, and marvelling at this steely funk driving the track along.”

New Order bassist Tom Chapman wrote: “A true inspiration to me and the reason I moved to Manchester to be a musician. One of the best bass players to come out of Manchester. If it wasn’t for him I probably wouldn’t be in New Order today. My thoughts go to his family and friends.”

Sonny Marr, the daughter of Johnny Marr, also shared her tribute to the late musician on Twitter, describing the relationship he and her father had. “Andy Rourke was an incredible person; clever, kind and deeply funny. He and my dad were brothers and seeing them stand together in these last months was a profoundly moving experience,” she wrote. ‘I’m grateful for the joy Andy brought to our lives. The joy is what I’ll remember.”

This is a developing story. 

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