NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess) – Andy Rourke, the bassist for the rock band The Smiths, passed away in the early morning hours of today (May 19) at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 59.
Guitarist Johnny Marr took to social media to make a lengthy statement about his bandmate and friend, saying, “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.”
Born Andrew Michael Rourke on January 17, 1964, he was interested in music from an early age and began playing guitar at the tender age of 7. Rourke joined the Smiths after his school friend, Marr and singer Morrissey formed the band in Manchester in 1982. Rourke performed on all four of The Smiths’ studio albums: The Smiths (1984), Meat is Murder (1985), The Queen is Dead (1986) and Strangeways, Here We Come (1987).
After the last album’s release, band conflicts, including royalty disputes, soon brought about their demise. Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce took Morrissey and Marr to court, arguing they were owed an equal share of earnings, having only 10% of each group’s performance and recording royalties. Rourke settled for a lump sum and later filed for bankruptcy in 1999.
Rourke then played with Morrissey in the singer’s early career and guested with the Pretenders, Sinead O’Connor and others. Later in his career, Rourke played as part of a supergroup called Freebass with Gary “Mani” Mounfield (Stone Roses) and Peter Hook (New Order).
He also joined the touring band for singer/songwriter Badly Drawn Boy for two years. Upon hearing news of his death, Badly Drawn Boy posted on Twitter, “The Smiths were the most important band of my teens. I was honored when Andy played bass with me on tour for two years. He was the coolest, kindest, funniest person – a joy to tour with. Probably the best natural musician I’ve ever seen. Loved him. Gutted.”
In 2022, Marr and Rourke reunited for their first collaboration in more than 30 years on the song “Strong Forever.” The last time Rourke played on stage with Marr was with Marr and his band at Madison Square Garden in September 2022.
Smiths drummer, Joyce, tweeted: “Not only the most talented bass player I’ve ever had the privilege to play with but the sweetest, funniest lad I’ve ever met. Andy’s left the building, but his musical legacy is perpetual. I miss you so much already. Forever in my heart, mate.”
Rourke is survived by his wife, Francesca.