Smiths bassist Andy Rourke dies aged 59

Photo credit: Andy Rourke (left) with The Smiths. Paul Cox for Sire Records.

Andy Rourke, bassist for The Smiths, has died aged 59 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Andy Rourke, best known as the Smiths’ bassist, has died aged 59 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Former bandmate Johnny Marr announced his death on Twitter.

“It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of Andy Rourke, who has been ill with pancreatic cancer.” writes Marr. “Andy will be remembered as a kind and beautiful soul by all who knew him, and a supremely gifted musician by music fans. We ask for privacy at this sad time.”

Rourke had been friends with Marr since they were at school and played in several bands in his native Manchester before teaming up with Marr and Morrissey to form The Smiths in 1982. Marr recalls their childhood friendship in a post paying tribute to Rourke Instagramhow the couple “spent all our time studying music, having fun and working towards becoming the best musicians we could be.”

“Andy was a guitarist back then, and a good one at that, but it wasn’t until he learned the bass that he found his true calling and his unique talent blossomed,” says Marr.

“During our teenage years we played in various bands around South Manchester before making our name with The Smiths from 1982-87 and on those Smiths records Andy reinvented what it was like to be a bass player.”

“I’ve been on every bass version of Andy at every Smiths session,” Marr continues. “Sometimes I was there as a producer, sometimes just as his proud sidekick and cheerleader. Watching him play those gorgeous bass lines was an absolute privilege and really something to watch.”

“We have nurtured our friendship over the years no matter where we have been or what has happened, and it fills us with both personal pride and sadness that Andy was the last to perform with me and my band at Madison Square Garden September 2022,” Marr’s tribute continues. “It was a special moment shared with my family and his wife and soul mate Francesca.”

“Andy will always be remembered as a kind and beautiful soul by those who knew him, and a supremely gifted musician to those who loved music,” concludes Marr. “Well done Andy. We will miss you brother.”

Rourke worked with many Artist in the years following the Smiths’ split in 1987, including The Pretenders, Sinead O’Connor, Badly Drawn Boy and Ian Brown. He appeared on many of Morrissey’s solo records and Rourke formed the group Freebass with two other Manchester-born bassists – Peter Hook and Mani.