Johnny Marr pays tribute to former Smiths bandmate Andy Rourke on what would have been his 60th birthday

Rourke died last year following a battle with pancreatic cancer.

[L-R] Johnny Marr and Andy Rourke

Credit: Getty Images

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On 19 May 2023, Andy Rourke – bassist of The Smithsdied following a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

And on Wednesday (17 January) his former bandmate Johnny Marr paid tribute to Rourke on social media on what would have been his 60th birthday, posting a photo of himself performing live in front of a massive backdrop of his late friend, with the caption: “Happy Birthday Andy.”

The photo was taken at one of Marr’s recent pair of A Night With The Johnny Marr Orchestra gigs at Manchester’s The Warehouse, Aviva Studios, in the city’s up and coming cultural space Factory International. The evenings – which took place on 7 and 8 December – saw Marr joined by a 30-piece orchestra, adding a classy twist to many Marr classics.

Marr was the first bandmate to share Rourke’s passing on social media last year, taking to X to say: “It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Andy Rourke after a lengthy illness with pancreatic cancer.”

“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,” he finished.

The post was paired with a photo of Rourke – the very same photo that he would go on to use as the climactic backdrop during his A Night With The Johnny Marr Orchestra shows.

He also later took to Instagram to share a lengthier, more heartfelt reflection on his friendship with Rourke.

“Andy and I met as schoolboys in 1975,” he writes. “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,” he continued. “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.”

“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,” he recalled. “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,” he concluded. “Well done Andy. We’ll miss you brother.”

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