Smiths Bassist Andy Rourke Passes Away Aged 59

Andy Rourke
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Andy Rourke
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Photo Credit: Andy Rourke (left) with The Smiths. Paul Cox for Sire Records.

Andy Rourke, bassist for The Smiths, has passed away aged 59 after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer.

Best known as The Smiths’ bassist, Andy Rourke passed away at age 59 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Former bandmate Johnny Marr announced his death on Twitter.

“It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Andy Rourke after a lengthy illness with pancreatic cancer,” writes Marr. “Andy will be remembered as a kind and beautiful soul by those who knew him and as a supremely gifted musician by music fans. We request privacy at this sad time.”

A friend of Marr’s since they were boys in school, Rourke played in several bands in his native Manchester before joining Marr and Morrissey to form The Smiths in 1982. Marr recalls their childhood friendship in a post paying tribute to Rourke on Instagram, how the pair “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,” says Marr.

“Throughout our teens, we played in various bands around South Manchester before making our reputations with The Smiths from 1982 to 1987, and it was on those Smiths records that Andy reinvented what it is to be a bass guitar player.”

“I was present at every one of Andy’s bass takes on every Smiths session,” Marr continues. “Sometimes I was there as the producer and sometimes just as his proud mate and cheerleader. Watching him play those dazzling basslines was an absolute privilege and genuinely something to behold.”

“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 Madison Square Garden in September 2022,” Marr’s tribute continues. “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,” concludes Marr. “Well done, Andy. We’ll miss you, brother.”

Rourke worked with many artists in the years after The Smiths split in 1987, including The Pretenders, Sinead O’Connor, Badly Drawn Boy, and Ian Brown. He appeared on many of Morrissey’s solo records, and Rourke teamed up with two other Manchester-born bassists — Peter Hook and Mani — to form the group Freebass.