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“The fact that we both went on to do what we did is really kind of amazing”: Johnny Marr on his decades-long friendship with The Cult’s Billy Duffy

“He and I have known each other since 1975.”

[L-R] Johnny Marr and Billy Duffy performing live

Credit: Getty Images

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When it comes to legendary guitarists, Johnny Marr is one of the finest Britain has to offer.

The beloved Mancunian has certainly been around the block, working with The Smiths, The The, The Cribs and The Pretenders – but his ties with guitarist Billy Duffy go way back. In a new interview with the BBC, Marr reflects on his relationship with The Cult guitarist.

Meeting on Manchester’s Wythenshawe housing estate back in 1975, the pair hit it off. Little did they know they would go on to dominate their respective corners of the UK music scene, going on to record together and performing alongside one another countless times.

“He and I have known each other since 1975,” he reflects. “The fact that we both went on to do what we did is really kind of amazing.”

Speaking to BillyDuffy.com back in 2013, Marr recounted the first time he met Duffy: “I first met Billy at Rob Allman’s house where he was rehearsing with his mates who were in a band. Rob and Billy were best friends and were very clued up for such a young age, and very knowledgeable about rock music right across the board.”

“I was very young at that point,” Marr recalls. “I was thirteen, twelve even, and its amazing how accommodating they were towards me, I think they were amused that I was so keen. Anyway, Billy was very cool and we’ve been friends ever since. “

Duffy himself remembers Marr as the young kid across the street who was “very alert, smart and inquisitive for his age” as well as being “very eager to learn”, and admits he felt “quite paternal toward him.”

Marr used to joke about the pair growing older and reminiscing wistfully over the coincidence of them both managing to make it big – but now it’s something they certainly do. “When you get to a certain stage in your life and people start disappearing, memories like that become precious, really precious,” Marr tells the BBC.

While he has a strong history of collaborating with iconic British musicians, over the last decade Marr has made a name for himself in his own right.

Marr is set to host two brilliant nights of music tonight and tomorrow (7th & 8th December) at Manchester’s Factory International, a ground-breaking new space dedicated to the arts, music and culture.

“When I first formed the group I had this idea that, at the very least, we were going to play in art galleries,” he explained. “This solo band was always super idealistic. It was all about these artistic concepts.”

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