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The Smiths bassist Andy Rourke dead at 59

The Smiths
Andy Rourke with The Smiths; Ross Marino/Getty Images

The Smiths bassist Andy Rourke has died at age 59.

Guitarist Johnny Marr announced the news on Twitter, sharing that Rourke passed away “after a lengthy illness with pancreatic cancer.” In a longer Facebook post, Marr recalls meeting Rourke in school in 1975, after which they quickly became “best friends.”

“I soon came to realize that my mate was one of those rare people that absolutely no one doesn’t like,” Marr writes.

They soon started playing in bands together, and The Smiths formed in 1982 alongside lead vocalist Morrissey and drummer Mike Joyce. Though the group only released four albums before breaking up in 1987, they were and continued to be hugely influential on the alternative and indie rock scene.

“It was on those Smiths records that Andy reinvented what it is to be a bass guitar player,” Marr writes.

“Watching him play those dazzling baselines was an absolute privilege and genuinely something to behold,” Marr continues. “But one time which always comes to mind was when I sat next to him at the mixing desk watching him play his bass on the song ‘The Queen Is Dead.’ It was so impressive that I said to myself ‘I’ll never forget this moment.'”

While his relationship with Morrissey is notoriously estranged, Marr’s friendship with Rourke continued after The Smiths. Last fall, Rourke played with Marr’s solo band during a show at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. A month later, they released a song together called “Strong Forever” with Rourke’s band Blitz Vega.

“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,” Marr says.

New Order also paid tribute to Rourke, writing, “We all feel for his friends, family and former band members.”

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