Johnny F****** Marr was born October 31, 1963 in Manchester, England.
Marr grew up with a love for music from a very young age. Endless hours were spent in front of the radio, listening to records, or watching aunts and uncles belt out old irish tunes at family parties. There was always music going in the Marr household. At 5 years old, everyday he and his mother would walk past a Emily's Corner Shop and she would have to wait as he gazed in wonder at a toy wooden guitar through the window. One morning she led him inside and purchased the guitar, an instrument that would never leave his side.
I've no idea if music is something that you're born with or is bred in you, but the fascination I had with music was something completely personal and natural...
As he grew older Marr formed different bands as he watched fellow friends and musicians in the band New Order and Billy Duffy (of The Cult) begin to make it out of Manchester. Fed up with bands that weren't going anywhere, nor serious enough as he was about music, Marr decided to take a chance. The only other musician in town he heard was any good was Steven Morrissey. So he headed down to 384 Kings Road, knocked on the door and told Morrissey he was looking to form a band. Unruffled Morrissey let him in and asked him if he wanted to play a record. Marr picked out a 7" inch single from his collection, The Marvelletes 'Paper Boy' and he flipped it over to the B-side, 'You're the One'. "Good choice", Morrissey said upon seeing his selection. It was from there on the two would start a songwriting partnership that would become The Smiths.
The band would enjoy success from 1983 to 1987 releasing 4 studio albums in the process. Marr during his time with The Smiths became well known for his "Rickenbacker Jangle' sound and arpeggiated riffs as he tried to make his guitar sound like a full band in itself. He drew his inspiration listening to Marc Bolan (T. Rex), Bert Jansch, Neil Young, The Velvet Underground, Nile Rodgers, and Rory Gallagher. Listening to songs like 'How Soon is Now' I can hear the influence of Marc Bolan in there. To me the main riff in the background reminds me of the main riff to "Children of the Revolution' that he disguised with a Bo Diddley inspired tremolo. Known as their most un-Smith sounding song I will embed a newer version of Johnny playing the song which sounds amazing.
Now for that Smith's sound:
And why not a live one.
After a few years of working together Marr decided he needed to get away exhausted from the work he was forced to put into The Smiths. Originally, only supposed to be a short stay away rumors began to circle in the media that Johnny Marr had left The Smiths. Angered he decided to walk away feeling that Morrissey had planted the rumor to the media.
Post Smiths he would go onto to work with several other bands including The Talking Heads, Pretenders, and form a super group 'Electronic' with Bernard Sumner (New Order) which included work with Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe of The Pet Shop Boys.
Marr with The Talking Heads:
Marr performing a song from his work in Electronic (this version sounds way better, the guitar helps. Some classic Marr arpeggio work starts at 3:15):
Later he would move on and join bands like Modest Mouse, The Cribs, and even perform guitar work for Hans Zimmer on the soundtrack for Inception.
Surprising to Marr it was his work with The Talking Heads that prompted Isaac Brock to ask him to join Modest Mouse. During the first meeting between the two Isaac asked him if he had any riffs and Dashboard was born. Isaac came up with the lyrics right then and there on the spot.
And a song from a solo album (great tune and reminiscent of The Church - Under the Milky Way):
Marr and Morrissey did meet in a pub years back and caught up with each other. It was a good conversation between the two and they even discussed getting back together and doing a reunion. There was an excitement between the two as they left and parted ways. A few text messages were exchanged post meeting but it wasn't long before the contact stopped and their lives again continued on as before. Will there ever be a reunion between the two? I hope so. Seeing Pink Floyd and GNR do it surprised me and gave me hope that it could happen some day. They will make the Hall of Fame eventually and my hope is they at least do it then. It's cool that bands like the Killers and the Decemberist's perform their songs live but it is nowhere near as good as the original. They are also two that I think could pull it off and the sound would still sound amazing and not ruin what once was.
Like Lennon/McCartney the two of them together in my opinion is much stronger than alone. They both have found happiness and success but the connection they had and how they complimented each other musically can't be replaced. Paul's advice to Johnny when he asked Paul how to get through a band breakup like he went through?
"That's bands for ya."
Special shout out to Neil Finn for getting Johnny to perform Smith's songs again after so many years.
Thank you Johnny Marr for your contribution to music and I wish you an
Sorry to get this out late folks but enjoy.