Andy would make you laugh. He tiptoes from one joke to another like a butterfly in a field of daffodils. The man is a legend. He plays the bass from the point of view of the melody, while hitting every corner to drive the spirit of the song in your dancing shoes and bones, even in a ballad. The Smiths invented Indie.
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One of the most revered bass players in alternative music, Andy Rourke helped craft the iconic sound of the ’80s with seminal band, The Smiths. Rourke spent his early years honing his bass and guitar skills at the tender age of eleven, before joining the funk group Freak Party alongside his school friend, John Maher a.k.a Johnny Marr.
It was Marr who introduced Rourke to The Smiths in 1982, and he replaced former bassist Dale Hibbert after the latter played just one gig with the band. It was obvious from those early audiences that The Smiths would emerge as one of the most significant alt-rock bands of the era’s British independent music scene. Rourke’s playing style, evolved from a fully cranked tone knob and pick, gave each record a distinct tone that still sounds fresh today.
Those instantly recognizable and undeniable iconic bass lines — from his funk solo on “Barbarism Begins at Home” to the rumbling beats of “How Soon Is Now?” which helped solidify the sound of The Smiths. Is it any wonder Marr declared Rourke’s playing on the The Queen is Dead LP as “something no other bass player could match”? Before the release of their fourth studio album, Strangeways, Here We Come in 1987, The Smiths split apart. Attempts were made to continue recording together, but in the end the group moved on their separate ways.
Rourke went on to play and record with many talented artists in the years to follow, including Morrissey, Sinead O’Connor, The Pretenders, Badly Drawn Boy, and Aziz Ibrahim. He formed Moondog One with Oasis’ former guitarist Bonehead, Mike Joyce and Craig Gannon, and he created the unique bass super-group Freebass in 2005, bringing in Peter Hook, formerly of New Order and Joy Division, and Gary Mounfield “Mani” of The Stone Roses and Primal Scream.
A man of many talents, Rourke created a TV show called Tune In Tune Out, a short format online show on FKR TV with creative director and comedian David Cross. On the show, Andy sat down with different guests to find out what song they wish they heard when they were born and what they want to hear when they die. He’s interviewed The Flaming Lips, Jackson Browne, Adam Green, Jaleel Bunton from TV on the Radio and Little Boots.
D.A.R.K. Dolores O’Riordan, Andy Rourke, Olé Koretsky
Currently, Rourke is signed to BMG as a writer and works on various projects for film and television, such as Northern Blvd (Film) and Rebel (Short), but most recently he composed music for the TV show Raw Craft with Anthony Bourdain.
He released an album through Kobalt last year with the project Daddy, which is with the multi-talented actor James Franco and Tim O’Keefe, and also his band D.A.R.K., with Dolores O’Riordan (The Cranberries) and Olé Koretsky, which released an album through Cooking Vinyl last September.
In his spare time, he DJ’s worldwide, as well as creates remixes, including “Breakneck Speed” by Tokyo Police Club, “Washed Up” by The Glass, and “Long Night Out” by MAG!
Although The Smiths were nominated to the 2015 class of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, the four Mancunians have no intention of reuniting and this begs the question, “How Soon Is Now?” We reply, “never say never.”