Johnny Marr talks meeting with Morrissey about reforming The Smiths

Reunion discussion 'came out of the blue'

Johnny Marr has described a meeting with Morrissey in 2008 in which they discussed the possibility of reuniting The Smiths.

The guitarist is set to publish his memoir Set The Boy Free on November 3. It follows the release of Morrissey’s best-selling autobiography in 2013.

In an extract published by The Guardian, Marr details the surprise meeting, writing: “One day in September 2008 we were only a couple of miles apart in south Manchester and arranged to meet up in a pub nearby. I was happy to see him – it was 10 years or more since we’d last met. We caught up with personal news and family and reminisced a bit.”


“Then our conversation turned to deeper things. Morrissey started to talk about how our relationship had become owned by the outside world, usually in a negative way. We had been defined by each other in most areas of our professional life. I appreciated him mentioning it, because it was true.”

“The drinks kept coming and we sat talking for hours. We chatted, as we always did, about the records we loved, and eventually we moved on to “that subject”. There had been rumours for years that The Smiths were about to re-form, and they were always untrue. I had never pursued any offer.”

“Suddenly we were talking about the possibility of the band reforming, and in that moment it seemed that with the right intention it could actually be done and might even be great. I would still work with the Cribs on our album, and Morrissey also had an album due out. We hung out for a while longer, and after even more orange juice (for me) and even more beer (for him) we hugged and said our goodbyes.”

“I was genuinely pleased to be back in touch with Morrissey, and The Cribs and I talked about the possibility of me playing some shows with The Smiths. For four days it was a very real prospect. We would have to get someone new on drums [original drummer Mike Joyce sued Morrissey and Marr over royalties in 1996], but if The Smiths wanted to re-form it would make a hell of a lot of people very happy, and with all our experience we might even be better than before.”

“Morrissey and I continued our dialogue and planned to meet up again. I went to Mexico with the Cribs, and then suddenly there was radio silence. Our communication ended, and things went back to how they were and how I expect they always will be.”

Read more: Are The Smiths Reforming? It’s Indie’s Eternal Question

Aaron Farley/NME

Speaking to The Guardian, Marr explained that the meeting was the first between the pair since their court case against Joyce and the conversation of reforming “came out of the blue,” adding: “I didn’t go there with that in mind. But there had been quite a few rumours about it, so naturally we discussed it. ‘It could happen…’ ‘How d’you feel about it?’ ‘What if?’… I think we were both as keen as each other.”

Asked if Morrissey had changed since the last time they met, Marr replied: “He was more outgoing, more sure of himself. I’m pleased for him. It was great – a really nice meeting.”

On whether their friendship could ever be rekindled, Marr said: “I don’t. I think it’s run its course. I don’t feel unfriendly in any way towards Morrissey – there’s just no need for it. One of the things we had in common was that we lived for work, and we’re too busy doing what we’re doing now.”

In his book, Marr also reveals how he emailed a photo of a student protester wearing a Smiths T-shirt to Morrissey in 2010. Marr writes: “The only other person I knew who might comprehend it the same way was Morrissey, and so I emailed him the picture. There’d been no contact between us for a long time, but I got a reply within minutes. He hadn’t seen the picture, and he was equally surprised and impressed. Our communication continued for a day or so, but although I felt I’d created a moment of friendship, an air of disaffection and distrust remained between us. It was a shame.”

Read more: The Incredible Full Story Behind The Smiths’ ‘The Queen Is Dead’ As Told By The Band

Meanwhile, Morrissey recently said that reuniting with The Smiths with Marr “doesn’t make sense any more”.